Thank you very much, Mr. President. And thank you very much to our distinguished briefers, Under-Secretary-General Lacroix, and to the ambassadors of Canada and Bangladesh. Thank you so much for your contributions and your updates.
The United States is pleased to have played a central role in refocusing the UN and Member States on the importance of force generation at the leaders’ summit in 2015. In recognition of the critical importance of multinational peace operations and the challenges they face, the international community has rallied behind the series of ministerial conferences to raise awareness about capacity shortfalls in peacekeeping and expand the pool of available resources to address these shortfalls.
From the first summit here in New York, these meetings have focused on deliverables. We are pleased with what these conferences have achieved, as over 40 delegations made pledges at fundamentally improving peacekeeping. These pledges have since materialized into concrete assets that address mission-critical needs on the ground such as the Nepalese engineering unit deployed to UNDOF, the Senegalese tactical helicopters sent to MINUSCA, or the Croatian special forces unit deployed to MINUSMA.
Through our bilateral peace operations capacity building programs, the United States is further assisting partner countries to fully develop pledged capabilities. Particularly those that address chronic capability gaps. For our part, in 2015 the United Stated pledged to develop and deliver curriculum to address policing in extremist environments and add specialized training to increase police peacekeepers’ survivability in mission. To date, we have delivered that training to four Cameroonian Formed Police Units deploying to CAR and two Senegalese Formed Police Units deploying to Mali.
We look ahead to the Defense Ministerial in Vancouver as an opportunity to both analyze new pledges and solidify existing pledges. Pledges alone, however, will not address growing peacekeeping demands. The United States encourages the registration of all pledges to ensure that commitments can ultimately be converted by the UN into actual deployments, increased capacity, and better peacekeeping.
As mission mandates and operating environments grow increasingly complex, we need units that are fully trained and equipped to deliver the desired effects on the ground. This means peacekeeping units that are trained in both core military or police skills, as well as in mission-specific needs.
The work of the Strategic Force Generation and Capability Planning Cell has been instrumental in the registration and assessment of potential peacekeepers for deployment. Since the establishment of the Cell and the Peacekeeping Capability Readiness System, we have seen improvement in how DPKO manages force generation and deployments. It’s critical to the success of UN peacekeeping that the organization identify the most appropriate forces for peacekeeping missions and to expand the available base of Troop and Police Contributing Countries. We need to continue to improve the speed and methods it uses to do this.
To match the progress we’ve seen on force generation, the UN needs to better forecast future requirements, including ground units but also leadership, sustainment, information and mobility systems. Institutionalizing this kind of strategic planning improved early warning capacity and structural changes at UN Headquarters in New York would enable UN leaders to respond quickly and decisively to new crises.
In addition to the Cell and PCRS, we support further development of DPKO’s Operational Readiness Assurance and Performance Improvement Policy as a vital tool for collecting data on troop and leader performance. Peacekeepers are truly the international community’s front lines. Because mission success can be a matter of life or death for civilians who rely on peacekeepers for protection – as well as for the peacekeepers themselves – we urge the UN to make force protection and deployment decisions based on objective performance data.
The UN Mission in South Sudan is an example of how performance-based decisions can lead to marked improvements in how peacekeeping missions deliver on their mandate. To address the shortcomings that led to UNMISS troops failing on several occasions to intervene to protect civilians under attack in and around UN bases, the Secretary-General directed the mission to undertake a number of steps to improve performance. UNMISS has subsequently better defended its bases against attacks and effectively projected peacekeepers to respond to emerging humanitarian crises, such as protecting 50,000 newly displaced civilians in May.
Transparent, objective analysis of field performance, through the Performance Improvement Policy and other existing mechanisms, will support identification of capability gaps, and help bilateral supporters of peacekeeping better target contributions to meet the requirements of troop and police contributors. It will assist TCCs to understand where improvement is needed, and help donors match training and equipment contributions to existing needs. As a donor, the United States has provided over a quarter of a billion dollars’ worth of capacity building support bilaterally to TCCs and these systems can help us target future assistance.
To that end, we strongly support the UN in working to strengthen how it collects, manages and analyzes data on peacekeeping operational requirements and unit field performance. Increasing the availability of objective information to support performance-based decision making will make missions more effective on the ground and promote the overall legitimacy of UN peacekeeping. We are committed to helping peacekeepers improve training and capability, but if a mission’s forces are not able to fulfill their mandate, we need to know. And we must be flexible enough to change our approach. We owe that much to both our peacekeepers and the critical missions they are sent to accomplish.
I thank you, Mr. President.