Remarks at a UN Ministerial on Peacekeeping

David Hale
Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs
U.S. Department of State
New York City
March 29, 2019

Good morning. Distinguished guests, it’s a great honor to represent Secretary of State Pompeo today. He sends his greetings, and regrets that he was unable to be present personally. He has recorded a message that we will circulate to all of the delegations in attendance.

As Vice President Pence said to the Security Council in 2017, keeping the peace is the UN’s most important mission, and this ministerial is a reminder of our collective commitment to stronger, safer, and more effective peacekeeping.

The Secretary-General’s Action for Peacekeeping initiative is a significant step toward addressing the political and operational challenges facing UN peacekeeping, and lays valuable groundwork for the road ahead. Now, we should begin implementation so we maintain momentum that this initiative has created.

America has long championed peacekeeping reform. We led negotiations in the Security Council to pass a landmark resolution on peacekeeper performance and accountability, Resolution 2436 in September 2018, and we now call on the UN and troop- and police-contributing countries to implement this resolution by finalizing performance policies, using a data-driven approach to deployment decisions, and ensuring that peacekeepers are held to account when misconduct does occur. And we should publicly and widely recognize good performance, but also seek remediation and even repatriation when warranted.

The Cruz Report on Improving the Security of Peacekeepers is clear: safer missions require better-performing peacekeepers, only by focusing on accountability can we expect more effective mission performance and better safety and security for civilians and peacekeepers alike.

America stands ready to support these efforts, not just in words, but in action. As the largest capacity-building contributor, we’ve invested nearly $1.5 billion through our military and police peacekeeping capacity building initiatives alone, and this support reinforces the ability of troop- and police- contributing countries to lead, train, deploy, and sustain peacekeeping forces in the UN and African Union operations effectively.

We’re also the largest financial contributor to the UN peacekeeping budget, and provide staff officers, technology support, and subject-matter expertise. We focus on supporting UN and regional efforts to advance the deployment of critical enabling capabilities, such as aviation, medical, and engineering units.

At last year’s ministerial in Vancouver, America announced a joint pledge with Rwanda to provide additional, rapidly deployable peacekeeping units. In support of that commitment, the U.S. has obligated more than $38 million in training and equipment assistance to support Rwanda. Overall, we’ve committed a total of nearly $270 million since 2015 to strengthen rapid response peacekeeping capabilities in select African countries.

Furthermore, we actively support the UN’s goals to increase the percentage of female peacekeepers, enhancing effectiveness of missions and advancing our shared goals related to Women, Peace, and Security.

This year, our pledge will focus on the development of peacekeeping intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities, another area critical to improving the effectiveness of UN operations.

The UN sends peacekeepers into incredibly complex environments to protect those who’ve been victims of war and who have often experienced unimaginable atrocities. As we think about the people these men and women serve, we should not hesitate to do our part to make peacekeeping as safe, effective, efficient, and accountable as possible.

As President Trump told this Assembly in 2017, “if we work together and champion truly bold reform, the UN will emerge as a stronger, more effective, more just, and greater force for peace and harmony in the world.”

Thank you very much.