Remarks at the C-34 Special Committee on Peacekeeping Plenary

Elaine French
Deputy Political Coordinator
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
February 11, 2019


I would like to start by offering my condolences and those of the United States to Ethiopia on their loss in Abyei over the weekend. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of the fallen peacekeepers and we recall past tragic losses as well at this time.

Members of the committee, and distinguished colleagues, I am happy to be here today with you to continue advancing peacekeeping reform. As Vice President Pence said before the Security Council in 2017, keeping the peace is the UN’s most important mission. We continue to ask peacekeepers to protect the most vulnerable civilians, to stand between armed antagonists, and to re-establish the rule-of-law in the midst of conflict. We turn to UN peacekeepers to create the space for peace to take root. And we recognize that their sacrifices are as real as their work is essential.

During the past two years, the United States has looked at missions and peacekeeping reforms through the lens of our five peacekeeping principles. Peacekeeping missions must support political solutions; have the cooperation of the host country; possess realistic and achievable mandates; have an exit strategy; and adjust to progress and failure. We believe that missions are becoming more effective and efficient, but more remains to be done to keep peacekeepers safe, to better protect civilians, and to lay the political groundwork for peacekeeping missions to eventually transition and close.

To this end, the United States has worked tirelessly over the past two years to promote a culture of performance within UN peacekeeping. The unanimous adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 2436 has made it clear that performance and accountability in UN peacekeeping is a priority of the Security Council. It calls for a timely, transparent reporting process to the Council when there are performance failures, accountability for those failures, and concrete incentives to foster better performance.

Resolution 2436 also recognizes that data-driven assessment is essential to improving performance by making sure the right troops and police are in the right roles, and helping pair willing police- and troop-contributing countries with donors who build capacity. 2436 built on the work of this Committee and last year’s C-34 report, and will make a difference in the ability of peacekeepers to carry out mandates effectively.

As I mentioned earlier, one of our key principles is that peacekeeping missions must have exit strategies. This entails supporting an integrated security architecture that seeks to ensure the safety of individuals in the host country. Police have a critical role to play in making this vision a reality, as evidenced in places like Haiti and Liberia. We also recognize the important contribution of police to the protection of civilians and overall mission success. To this end, we support better integration of police into all aspects of mission planning, and ensuring the UN Police Division is empowered to properly assess, plan, deploy, manage, and support peacekeeping missions.

We also know based on data that visible support from trained and dedicated female leaders, uniformed personnel, and staff makes peacekeeping more effective. The United States strongly supports increasing the participation of women in meaningful roles and in leadership in UN peacekeeping operations.

We are committed to burden-sharing with fellow UN Member States and will continue to invest in missions across the globe that save lives and create space for sustainable political solutions to take hold. We will also remain committed to advancing reform that will deliver an increasingly strong return on that investment.

We particularly recognize the importance of African troop and police-contributing countries and the value they bring in providing peace and security on the continent. Since 2005, we have committed nearly 1.5 billion dollars in peacekeeping capacity building assistance to countries deploying to UN and regional peacekeeping operations – mostly in Africa. In 2018, the United States supported the training of military and police personnel to be deployed in African peacekeeping missions in the Central African Republic, Mali, Congo, Darfur, Abyei, and South Sudan.

Colleagues, if we think about the people peacekeepers are meant to serve, none of us should hesitate to do our part to make peacekeeping as effective as possible. We welcome the opportunity of the C-34 to work together to improve the quality of peacekeeping, which will better promote the safety and security of peacekeepers as well as the people they are mandated to protect.