Guterres outlines peacekeeping gaps to Seoul Ministerial


Notwithstanding progress in a number of areas, United Nations peacekeeping efforts face what the world body’s senior man calls “significant gaps”.

Secretary General Antonio Guterres was part of this week’s UN Peacekeeping Ministerial in Seoul, Korea, held virtually as a preventive measure around another COVID-19 scare, this time with the discovery of the new Omicron variant.

With half of the 12 current UN peacekeeping missions in Africa, delegates from 22 of the continent’s 54 countries last week indicated they would attend.

On what the various blue helmet forces, not only in Africa but worldwide, need, Guterres pointed to aviation and high-tech capabilities as topping the wish list.

“In Mali, we need helicopters and medical evacuation teams to cover a vast terrain inaccessible by road or river.

“Long-range unmanned aircraft systems are vital to several missions, including in the Central African Republic (CAR). They help protect civilians enabling peacekeepers to know what is happening around them, day and night,” he told delegates, adding their partnership was needed to “ensure we deploy well-trained troops with proper equipment”.

By way of illustration in one component of peacekeeping, Guterres said: “Too often, uniformed peacekeepers lack the skills to administer first aid, to plan and undertake a patrol, or to assess information and identify threats”.

Overall the world body has seen “a notable increase in support to strengthen UN peacekeeping – a pointer to a wider commitment to peace”.

“We are able to deploy new military and police capabilities quicker and include more women peacekeepers, police and civilians in our operations as we now face the highest number of violent conflicts since 1945.

“The COVID-19 pandemic, the climate crisis and geopolitical tensions mean conflicts are more complex and prolonged.

“Peacekeeping has never been more relevant and its success more urgent.

“The Action for Peacekeeping (A4P) initiative I launched three years ago is aimed first and foremost at making our missions stronger, safer and more effective. A4P plus, launched in March, aims to accelerate implementation.

“We are taking concrete actions across all areas of A4P plus, from enhancing the safety, security and wellbeing of our personnel to increasing participation and expanding the role of women in our missions.

“We made progress on collective coherence around a political strategy with regional partners in South Sudan.

“We are also taking forward a strategy for digital transformation of peacekeepers,” he said adding it “is central to more innovative, data-driven peacekeeping”.