Representatives from several African Commonwealth nations stressed the urgent need for greater cooperation between the United Nations and regional mechanisms during a meeting of the UN Special Political and Decolonisation Committee (Fourth Committee) on October 27, 2017
Representatives from several African Commonwealth nations stressed the urgent need for greater cooperation between the United Nations and regional mechanisms during a meeting of the UN Special Political and Decolonisation Committee (Fourth Committee) on October 27, 2017.
The Fourth Committee considers issues covering five decolonisation-related agenda items, the effects of atomic radiation, peacekeeping operations and special political missions, questions regarding information, the Report of the Special Committee on Israeli Practices, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), and international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space.
As the committee continued its review of peacekeeping and reform proposals, delegates from several Commonwealth member countries in Africa described the volatility and challenges surrounding the continent’s peace operations.
The delegates were all Ambassadors of the Permanent Mission of their respective countries to the United Nations.
Kenya’s representative, Macharia Kamau, expressed concern over the UN Mission in South Sudan, saying that improvements to the utility of regional forces and greater cooperation between the mission, the Regional Protection Force and the Transitional Government of National Unity needed to occur.
The Transitional Government of National Unity gives its consent for the deployment of the Regional Protection Force, additional peacekeepers from troop contributing countries brought in to support missions, in cases where the UN has deemed a region particularly volatile, in order to improve the security situation.
Partnerships between the African Union, Intergovernmental Authority on Development and the host government were also imperative, he said.
Kenya also voiced concern about Somalia’s security situation, as the terrorist threat posed by Al-Shabaab remains significant to the country and wider sub-region.
It promised to continue to contribute both troops and resources to the African Union Mission in Somalia, requesting that the Council rethink its drawdown strategy.
Rwanda’s representative, Raoul Bazatoa, backed the Secretary‑General’s initiatives to restructure the organisation’s peace and security pillar, in particular the collocation of departments, regional divisions and support offices.
Improved coordination among departments and support offices within the same region would facilitate a more thorough plan to allow each division to leverage its own comparative advantage, he said.
Bazatoa also highlighted Rwanda’s experience in what to do when conflict threatened civilians – civilian needs and protection, along with real-time updates on the state of the conflict, must be prioritised, as should other elements embedded in the Kigali Principles (guidelines intended to improve the protection of civilians), which he urged all States to subscribe to.
Necton Mhura, of Malawi, called for the Security Council to review Charter principles underpinning peacekeeping operations, including those regarding the use of force, and to adopt more proactive, direct responses at strategic and operational levels.
New trends within terrorist tactics and long-running violence in places such as Darfur and the Democratic Republic of the Congo mean that a mission’s mere presence is no longer sufficient protection, he said.
Other Commonwealth countries contributed to the session and backed their African colleagues’ requests.
Pakistan’s representative, Nabeel Munir, warned against morphing peacekeeping into peace enforcement, noting that the new UN peace and security architecture had been proposed without a peacekeeping department.
NG Chuin Song, representative of Singapore, called for greater focus on root causes of conflict, accountability, prevention, and promoting long-term development. She welcomed reform efforts that would offer clearer, stronger mandates and would adhere to the peacekeeping principles of party consent, impartiality and non-use of force.
Malaysia’s Mohamad Suria Saad reminded the Council that each mission was unique in its objectives and urged the training of peacekeepers to the highest professional standards in combating sexual violation and exploitation.
Agnes Coutou, from the International Committee of the Red Cross, said that whilst UN mandates had increased in scope, they should be matched by adequate funding and resources.
Moreover, peacekeeping missions must ensure compliance of all parties in a conflict with international humanitarian law and legal obligations pertaining to detention.
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