Remarks at a UN Security Council Debate on Peacekeeping Operations

Ambassador Jonathan Cohen
Acting Permanent Representative
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
September 9, 2019


Thank you, Mr. President, and thank you Under-Secretary-General Lacroix for your briefing. The United States adds its condemnation to the attacks in Burkina Faso, as well as our condolences to the families of the victims. We are deeply concerned by an increase in violent attacks targeting civilians in Burkina Faso.

Mr. President, the United States recognizes the courageous work the blue helmets accomplish in conflict zones around the world. Their service and sacrifice help countries navigate the path from conflict to peace.

One year after the unanimous adoption of resolution 2436, we welcome this opportunity to discuss how the Council can help peacekeepers effectively implement mandates, protect civilians, restore peace, and return home safely to their families. Equally important, we seek to partner with the Secretariat to improve reporting, accountability, and transparency efforts as outlined in 2436.

Mr. President, we support the UN’s efforts to implement reforms that advance a culture of accountability in UN peacekeeping. These reforms will enhance the safety and security of peacekeepers and civilians alike, increase the operational effectiveness of missions, and hold peacekeepers accountable for underperformance.

Under-Secretary-General Lacroix, we appreciate and support your regular meetings with the Department of Operational Support and the Department of Management Strategy and Compliance, to discuss peacekeeping performance in individual missions. We would be grateful if the Department of Peace Operations would provide the Council with regular and formal briefings on outstanding performance in the field, and examples of where peacekeepers could benefit from increased training.

There are many examples that could be highlighted in these briefings of significant progress toward developing peacekeeping guidelines, doctrine, standards, and training materials; instituting a UN performance assessment framework and integrating and analyzing performance data.

These briefings would align with resolution 2436’s call for a more transparent and inclusive approach to improving peacekeeping performance. This would also allow Council members to better align our training efforts and receive feedback on the impact of the trainings that we provide.

Mr. President, the United States calls on the Secretariat to provide mission performance assessment summaries in its written reports to the Council on individual Missions. These assessments should document examples of high performance as well as underperformance and the accountability measures taken to rectify them. Now is the time, one year after the unanimous adoption of 2436, to insure its rigorous implementation.

Mr. President, we strongly support the Secretary General’s efforts to implement his zero-tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse. We urge all troop-and police-contributing countries to enforce the zero-tolerance policy and swiftly address any criminal allegations. The United States supports the UN in the repatriation of individuals who commit sexual exploitation, abuse and of units who partake in abusive behavior, including in cases where troop and police contributing countries do not fulfill their obligations under the zero-tolerance policy.

Although there has been some progress in this area, we’ve not seen enough progress. The instances of peacekeepers engaging in sexual exploitation and abuse, and the lack of information on accountability measures undertaken by their home countries, erodes trust and degrades the credibility of UN peacekeeping. Hearing about these cases in regular and formal briefings would allow us to address them before they become larger problems or recur.

We also recognize that smart and adequate resourcing is essential to making peacekeeping effective. As you know Mr. President, the United States is the largest financial contributor to UN peacekeeping and that will not change. Our long-term partnerships with troop and police contributing countries help develop their institutional capabilities, and better prepare, deploy, and support peacekeepers.

Mr. President, peacekeeping is a shared responsibility that comes with shared costs. It is the responsibility of all Member States to step up their efforts to make sure peacekeepers are well-trained and well-equipped, and we encourage our partners to match our level of commitment.

When we discuss peacekeeping performance, it is not about politics or pointing fingers – it is about improving peacekeeping on the part of stakeholders, including member states and the Secretariat. We must all do our part to make peacekeeping as effective as it can be – the United States, along with all of our partners around the table today, are committed to fulfilling this goal.

Thank you, Mr. President.