Remarks by Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield at a UN Security Council Briefing on Peace Operations for Sustainable Peace

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
November 3, 2022


Thank you, Madam President. We appreciate Ghana’s efforts in convening us for this important discussion. And I’d like to thank the Secretary-General for his briefing as well. And thank all of you, our distinguished group of briefers for your insightful contributions. I would like to start by taking a moment to recognize those who risk their lives every day in the pursuit of peace, especially those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to protect others.

Colleagues, sustainable peace requires all of us to come together and ensure that modern UN peace operations are truly multidimensional and integrated. As Her Excellency Mary Robinson noted, in order to achieve sustainable peace, security, sustainable development, and human rights are key.

The Secretary-General has called on us to do just that through the “Action for Peacekeeping” initiative, which emphasizes the primacy of politics in conflict resolution and the role peace operations play in supporting political solutions. It reminds us that the task of peacekeepers is to create space for political solutions and support local stakeholders as they tackle the root causes of the conflict.

Here’s what that looks like in practice: For the UN Mission in South Sudan, the Security Council has outlined a strategic vision for the mission’s role in supporting inclusive and accountable governance. In Mali, MINUSMA is tasked with supporting Malian implementation of a peace agreement and a strategy to address the root causes of violent conflict in the center of the country.

In both cases, we have found that leaders of peace operations can operate more effectively and confidently when they have a clear sense of what the Security Council expects them to achieve. That is why we started to introduce longer-term “strategic visions” into peace operations’ mandates.

But let’s be clear: To be successful, we must have support and cooperation from host countries for the full implementation of UN peace operations’ missions mandates. We also recognize that peace operations cannot address the underlying causes and drivers of conflict alone. The drivers of conflict are generational challenges that require a full range of actors to come to the table. Local and national governments, civil society leaders, and humanitarian organizations, the private sector, and UN Member States. And another key group that is too often shut out of the political process are women.

We must work to ensure that women’s perspectives are integrated across peace operations functions, so the meaningful inclusion of women and girls in the political process and decision-making becomes the norm. The Women, Peace, and Security Agenda has a vital role to play in UN peacekeeping operations. At the same time, we must ensure that young people have a seat at the table, since we know that their participation in peace and security is essential to the longevity of peace. Just look at Africa alone. The median age is 19 years old. That tells us how important youth are to the future of any peace operations.

In many situations, we have also seen the importance of regional actors taking the lead, particularly in the case of the African Union. We applaud the AU’s efforts to promote peace and stability on the continent. And we encourage the AU to continue implementing compliance frameworks for peace support operations.

Colleagues, the UN has a unique comparative advantage in advancing sustainable peace. We have the power to coordinate across the international community to identify clear and achievable goals. And the Secretary-General’s “New Agenda for Peace” offers an important opportunity to consider how to make the UN more responsive to modern challenges, as we address the root causes of conflict.

For our part, the United States remains deeply committed to UN peacebuilding efforts. As called for in “Our Common Agenda”, we strongly support the expanded role of the Peacebuilding Commission across a range of issues, including human rights and climate change, and we welcome their contribution to today’s meeting. The PBC has an important convening role to play and can help mobilize attention and commitment to international peacebuilding efforts.

I also want to note that the United States is now implementing our own strategy to prevent conflict and promote stability. This effort builds on lessons learned from our own experiences in conflict-affected environments and integrates best practices for addressing the root causes of conflict and preventing future ones. In fact, the UN has applied many of these same lessons from the value of local buy-in to the importance of integrating all diplomatic, humanitarian, and security activities under a coherent plan.

The United States stands ready to continue working within and outside the Council to address all causes of armed conflict. Together, let us continue to support the heroic work of UN peacekeepers and to do everything, everything in our power to end protracted conflicts and build sustainable peace.

Thank you, Madam President.