Remarks at a High-Level Event on Improving Peacekeeping Performance: One Year since UNSCR 2436

Ambassador Kelly Craft
Permanent Representative
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
December 6, 2019


Good morning everyone, and thank you for coming.  It’s just been over one year since Resolution 2436 was unanimously adopted.  This landmark resolution focused on enhancing peacekeeping performance.  We have identified this event as an opportunity to reflect on the progress of, and more importantly, gaps in its implementation. We are delighted to have the Secretary-General today with us providing opening remarks before we turn to four thematic sessions focused on best practices in peacekeeping.  We are equally happy to have India, Portugal, Senegal, Uruguay, and Vietnam as co-hosts for this event.  Today we will also hear from Lieutenant General Gyllensporre, the force commander of MINUSMA; U.S. assistant secretary of state and my friend Clarke Cooper, and Under-Secretary-General Lacroix.

I will now deliver remark as the United States representative to the United Nations.

The images of blue UN helmets and white UN planes are associated by people around the world with men and women saving lives, delivering humanitarian assistance, and supporting peace processes.

There is a reason for this: Peacekeeping is among the most impactful undertakings of the United Nations.

Peacekeepers operate in some of the world’s most challenging environments, in many cases rising above the challenges they face.

In the Central African Republic, a Zambian battalion is protecting civilians during fighting between armed groups.

In Kosovo, a gender advisor is incorporating women and girls’ perspectives into community-building exercises.

And in South Sudan, peacekeepers from more than 60 nations, including today’s co-sponsors India and Vietnam, are working together to bring stability to the country.

The United States strongly supports UN peacekeeping, as well as the military, police, and civilian workers to maintain peace in some of the world’s most perilous places.  That’s why we contribute $1.7 billion to the UN peacekeeping budget.

It’s why we’re the largest bilateral supporter of troop- and police-contributing countries in the world each year.

But while we strongly support effective peacekeeping, we must also be forthright in acknowledging that peacekeepers too often fail to meet the standards of their mandates.  We have seen the direct consequences of poor performance: troops left vulnerable to attacks from armed groups in the DRC; children—hear me out—children abused by the blue helmets charged with protecting them in the CAR; civilians abandoned by peacekeepers during active conflict in South Sudan.

Poor performance harms the reputation of the UN, the SRSG, and troop- and police-contributing countries.  But of far greater concern is that it puts human lives at risk: those of the 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.

That’s what today is all about: accountability. And Resolution 2436 calls for the accountability we need: clear, objective performance standards for all UN peacekeeping personnel; measures to address underperformance; incentives and recognition for outstanding performance; improved reporting on performance; and deployment decisions based on performance data.

Today, we must assess our progress on implementing United Nations Security Council Resolution 2436, and we must also look forward, asking what each UN and the Member States should do—what gaps remain, and what concrete, time-bound commitments we must make to fill them.

We support the Secretariat’s recent initiatives to improve reporting and transparency on peacekeeping performance, including greater detail on performance in the Secretary-General’s reports to the Security Council on individual missions.

As the roll-out of the UN’s Comprehensive Performance Assessment System continues, we expect that these reports will include an impact-based analysis of peacekeeping successes and peacekeeping shortfalls.

This will ensure that Council members have the information they need to tailor mandates to country- or region-specific needs, and that all stakeholders can participate in candid discussions about various missions’ futures.

We are pleased by the Secretariat’s initiatives to keep Security Council members apprised on performance—a responsibility mandated by UNSCR 2436.  We look forward to discussions on performance trends, including accountability measures and examples of outstanding performance.

Further, the Secretariat has made commendable progress evaluating uniformed personnel performance.

However, we must also evaluate the performance of civilian staff, including those based in New York and field mission leadership. Accountability is for all personnel, not just troops and police.

Finally, we see a serious lack of progress in accountability for poor performance, which begins with setting expectations. Civilian and uniformed personnel need to know the standards they will be held to, and the consequences for not meeting those standards.  Accountability measures should not be administered ad hoc, but rather based on clearly defined policies visible to everyone.

UNSCR 2436 is explicit that these measures must include remediation, withholding reimbursement, dismissal of civilian personnel, and repatriation of uniformed personnel.

We urgently call on the Secretariat to develop an accountability mechanism identifying which such measures should be triggered.

This mechanism, which should include troop, police, and civilian components, is necessary for both setting and enforcement of clear standards for UN personnel. This is just one of the tools available to us to improve missions, several of which we will discuss today.

As General dos Santos Cruz noted in his report, accountability also contributes to the safety and the security of peacekeepers. We cannot overlook this fact, as today’s peacekeeping missions operate in increasingly hostile environments.

The U.S. is ready to support accountability efforts, especially through capacity building assistance in troop- and police-contributing countries.  Our existing partnerships with these countries allow for better peacekeeping preparation, deployment, and support.

During the third session today, our Assistant Secretary for Political-Military Affairs will share how we are investing in more effective and accountable peacekeeping around the world through our partnerships.

There are many examples of outstanding performance, and you will hear some today.

However, we rarely hear these peacekeeping success stories from the UN.  So, we urge the Secretariat to highlight such examples in regular public reporting.  After all, Member States and taxpayers should know when peacekeepers go above and beyond to fulfill their mandated task.

Last year, the Secretary-General challenged us all to come together to reform peacekeeping.  The Action for Peacekeeping initiative rallied Member States and the Secretariat to address the persistent challenges facing modern-day peacekeeping.  We now have the chance to build on this momentum.

UNSCR 2436 represents a clear mandate from the Security Council, and it fully supports the performance and accountability pillar of A4P.  It calls on us to ensure UN standards and requirements are met; hold all civilian and uniformed peacekeepers accountable; and address performance shortfalls.

I have already said that today is about accountability.

But we are not concerned with accountability merely for its own sake.  We care about it because accountable peacekeeping means greater safety and security for vulnerable people around the world, and for peacekeepers themselves.

Fully implementing resolution 2436 will show that the blue helmet is the gold standard for peacekeeping around the world.

The United States, along with our co-hosts and partners, are committed to striving for—and meeting—this standard.

Thank you.