Explanation of Vote After the Adoption of a UN Security Council Resolution on the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP)

Ambassador Jonathan Cohen
Acting Permanent Representative
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
January 30, 2019


Thank you, Mr. President, and thanks to the UK delegations for their efforts to strengthen UNFICYP’s mandate to ensure it conveys the strong sentiment of the UN Security Council and the international community that peacekeeping operations must support political solutions and the urgency we see for the leaders of both the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities to come together. We appreciate your commitment, both as the penholder and as a troop-contributing country, to peace and stability in Cyprus.

We join the Council’s unanimous urging to the leaders of both Cypriot communities that they take immediate steps to rebuild trust, improve the public atmosphere, and resume talks toward a settlement.

The United States continues to support a comprehensive settlement to reunify the island as a bizonal, bi-communal federation, to benefit all Cypriots and the wider region, and we want to underscore the following:

First, while the United Nations has a critical role to play, the political process towards a settlement must be Cypriot-led. For a durable, lasting peace to take hold, the leaders must demonstrate the political courage and will to negotiate in good faith and with a sense of urgency. We urge the leaders to proactively engage UN consultant Jane Holl Lute to negotiate the terms of reference for resuming negotiations.

The leaders must also pursue their own lines of effort to prepare their respective communities for a comprehensive settlement. This mandate makes clear the Security Council’s strong urging to the leaders to fulfill their previously agreed 2015 confidence-building measures, particularly on mobile phone interoperability and completing the integration of electricity grids, as soon as possible.

We also welcome this Council’s call for the establishment of mechanisms and enhancing existing initiatives to alleviate tensions. These mechanisms should provide for direct contact between the sides, without prejudice to recognition, which also allows for top to bottom communication across the communities.

The second point is that, on principle, perpetual peacekeeping missions are unacceptable. We are pleased that the new mandate reflects this view and that the Secretary-General will examine how the many UN activities on Cyprus can be best configured in the current environment. UNFICYP and the UN’s overall presence in Cyprus cannot be a substitute for, or be a part of a landscape that lacks a path toward a political solution. We look forward to the Secretary-General’s report particularly on this point.

We’re hopeful that the leaders will quickly reach agreement on terms of reference and will be prepared to exert all efforts to reach a comprehensive settlement. The United States has made clear, in reviewing all peacekeeping missions, that we will not support the status quo for missions where political processes are stalled.

Finally, we want to remind that the Security Council has primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. One of the main ways it exercises this responsibility is through setting peacekeeping mandates and policies. We cannot and should not accept the view that the Security Council should cede its leadership and responsibility to the General Assembly’s Special Committee on Peacekeeping.

We will continue to defend the Security Council’s primacy on peacekeeping matters and the tremendous progress this Council has made in recent years in reforming and strengthening peacekeeping by putting peacekeeper performance improvement at the heart of our efforts. Implementing the Secretariat’s performance policy framework is essential to our shared goal of making UN peacekeeping as effective and efficient as it can be.

Building on the accomplishments of Resolution 2436 on peacekeeper performance, we are pleased that the Security Council reaffirmed in this resolution its support for the development of a comprehensive and integrated performance policy framework that identifies clear standards of performance for evaluating all UN personnel working in and supporting peacekeeping operations.

I thank you.