Last year the UN deployed more than 110 000 peacekeepers in 15 missions around the world with the world body’s peacekeeping department maintaining it is one of the most effective tools available to the international community for responding to the twin challenges of global peace and security.
“Peacekeeping has a proven track record. Over 70 years, our peacekeepers have helped bring peace and stability to many places. From Haiti to Darfur to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to Lebanon, our peacekeepers are making a real difference, every day, on the ground as they go about undertaking a wide range of tasks from protecting civilians caught in fighting, promoting human rights, or supporting elections.
“2017 was a difficult year and not without challenges. Our men and women operate in some of the most complex and difficult places in the world, risking their lives so others can have a better future,” according to the UN Department of Peacekeeping.
“In South Sudan, peacekeepers protect more than 220,000 civilians in camps across the country and elsewhere as well as supporting regional political efforts to end the conflict, now in its fifth year and with hundreds of thousands killed, injured and displaced.
“When Blue Helmets were deployed to the Central African Republic in 2014 they helped avert genocide. The UN Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) is focusing on core peacekeeping tasks of protecting civilians as well as supporting the peace process in a country that has seen an increase in violence over the past year.
“In Mali, the UN peacekeeping operation, MINUSMA, remains determined to support efforts aimed at restoring lasting peace and security. The Mission works with the all parties to expedite implementation of the peace agreement to isolate terrorist groups and other entities bent on undermining the peace and reconciliation process.
“As a result of our presence and efforts in some of the most challenging places on earth, we lost colleagues who have been killed or died in service of peace.
“The collective efforts of uniformed and civilian personnel resulted in progress on the ground. We ended our operation in the Ivory Coast in June, where we left a legacy of stability and peace after a presidential crisis in 2010 when some 3,000 Ivorians were killed and 300,000 became refugees. MINUSTAH, the mission in Haiti closed in October. The country made remarkable progress since MINUSTAH’s deployment 13 years ago. Kidnappings decreased by 95% in 10 years and the Haitian National Police are now a 15,000 strong force and present in all communes. A smaller peacekeeping presence, the UN Mission for Justice Support in Haiti, is helping to strengthen security, rule of law and human rights. The Mission in Liberia will end in the next months after successfully delivering on its mandate.
“UN Peacekeeping is also improving and modernising to prevent and address complex conflicts and new threats. We are in the midst of a peace and security architecture reform, initiated by the Secretary-General, to ensure we are stronger in prevention, more agile in mediation and more nimble, effective and cost-effective in operations. Reviews of specific peacekeeping operations have been initiated to help chart their future. These reforms are part of a broader, holistic UN reform examining management and the developmental pillars of this organisation.
“At the same time, we are taking critical steps and measures to ensure we uphold the trust of the population and adopt a ‘victims first’ approach. This involves enforcing the Secretary-General’s strategy to prevent sexual exploitation and abuse, hold perpetrators accountable and assist victims.
“Efforts are starting to bear fruit. We still have a long way to go, as 2017 ends, we have recorded 54 allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse in field missions, roughly half the allegations recorded in 2016. This is a result of robust efforts to train personnel, raise awareness among communities on the risks associated to sexual exploitation and abuse, promote and enforce the zero-tolerance policy and partner with Member States in this endeavour.
“This support of Member States is imperative to the fight against sexual exploitation and abuse and to everything else Peacekeeping does. After all, it is a collective enterprise and UN peacekeeping is at its best when it represents the world.
“Peacekeeping is an effective and cost-efficient tool to bring peace and stability to conflict-torn countries. Entering 2018, we look forward to further improving performance and strengthening engagement with Member States and regional organisations to better serve the most vulnerable people.”