The international community last week took stock of action to improve UN peacekeeping in line with a Security Council resolution aimed at enhancing performance at all levels at New York headquarters and in the field.
The UN welcomes opportunities to review its effectiveness, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the meeting on Resolution 2436, adopted in September 2018.
The UN chief said his Action for Peacekeeping initiative renews collective commitment to excellence in an increasingly dangerous landscape for the blue helmets and their civilian colleagues.
“Across all missions, we introduced new systems and tools to evaluate performance. These include regular military and police unit evaluations and a hospital evaluation system,” he said.
“We are now engaging with member states in a more focused way. In some cases, we repatriated underperforming troops; in others we deployed mentors or training teams.”
There is progress in intelligence sharing, reducing gaps in vital equipment, improving safety and security of peacekeepers and in increasing numbers of women serving under the UN flag, among others.
Poor performance puts lives at risk: US
Permanent Security Council member, the United States, which contributes $1.7 billion to the peacekeeping budget, co-organised the meeting, alongside India, Portugal, Senegal, Uruguay and Vietnam.
Underlining her country’s support for peacekeeping, US Ambassador Kelly Craft stressed the need for accountability.
Poor performance harms the reputation of the UN and countries which contribute to peacekeeping, Craft said. She listed some consequences such as troops being left vulnerable to armed group attacks in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) or peacekeepers sexually abusing children in the Central African Republic (CAR).
“A far greater concern is it puts human lives at risk: those of people the UN is mandated to protect and the peacekeepers sent to protect them. For all their sakes, we must hold peacekeeping missions, leadership and uniformed and civilian staff accountable”, she said.
UN building culture of continual improvement
Guterres said the world body was “doing everything possible” to improve accountability and end sexual abuse and exploitation by peacekeepers. Strong prevention and response measures, as well as appointment of a Victims’ Rights Advocate, were among steps he named.
The UN chief called for increased momentum and partnerships in building what he sees as “a culture of continual improvement and accountability”.
He laid out 10 points for collective action ranging from greater support for UN missions operating in challenging environments, to enhancing intelligence, situation analysis and understanding the needs of authorities and local people in countries hosting UN missions.
There are plans for the UN to work with countries contributing uniformed personnel to peacekeeping missions in building a framework for performance evaluation and accountability.
With the UN currently experiencing a cash crisis, which also affects peacekeeping, the Secretary General urged countries to ensure the UN remains funded.
“We need budgets to follow mandates, not mandates to follow budgets,” Guterres said.