The 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 7th Session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the parties (CMP7) to the Kyoto Protocol was held in the sunny city of Durban, South Africa.

 

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Statements and Speeches

Statement by Dr. Wouter Zaayman, Counsellor, at the  Permanent Mission of the Republic of South Africa to the United Nations, on the 2016 Substantive Session of the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations

16 February 2016

Chairperson,

Allow me to commence my statement by expressing my deepest condolences to the people of Egypt regarding the death of a great son of Africa, the former UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali who has passed away.

I wish to congratulate you for the able manner in which you are steering the work of the Committee and assure you of South Africa’s full support to ensure a successful conclusion of the work of this Committee.

My delegation aligns itself with the Statement delivered by Morocco on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, and we wish to make the following additional remarks in our national capacity.

At the outset we wish to pay tribute to those brave women and men, serving in United Nations peacekeeping operations, who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the pursuit of international peace and security.

Chairperson,

In the seventy years since the establishment of the United Nations, the need for this organisation to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war “ has never been greater.  This is manifested by the proliferation of conflicts and deployment of more than 125 000 personnel in the 38 UN political and peacekeeping missions. The nature of conflict is evolving and new threats to global peace and security continue to emerge which threaten the peace and stability of states and regions.

In this regard, the reports by the High Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations as well as the release of the Secretary General’s report entitled: “The future of United Nations peace operation: implementation of the recommendations of the High Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations” are both timely and highly relevant, as they provide Member States with concrete and clear recommendations on possible responses to these changing peace and security challenges.

Chairperson,

Time does not permit me to address all of these recommendations but with the available time allow me to focus on the following key issues for my delegation:

1. Protection of Civilians

It has become necessary that UN Peacekeeping missions have at their core mandate the protection of civilians, who are the most vulnerable during conflict. We maintain that the protection of civilians remains first and foremost the responsibility of the host government and the UN must support the host government in carrying out this responsibility.  My delegation however agrees with the Secretary General, that where a specific protection mandate is given to the peacekeeping operation, this task should be carried out effectively, if the UN is to retain its credibility. Carrying out such tasks would however require that peacekeeping operations have the requisite capabilities to assume a robust posture to implement their mandate.

The inclusion of the use of modern technologies in the protection mandate has to be considered as a further contribution to enhance the capabilities of UN peacekeepers.

2. Emphasis on political solutions to conflict

My delegation fully supports the call by both the Panel and the Secretary-General that “the search for political solutions must be at the heart of the UN peace operations.” We also welcome the acknowledgement for the increasing role regional organisations play in peacemaking and peacekeeping efforts.  In this regard the UN should work closely with regional and sub-regional organisations in their mediation and peace-making efforts. Regional and Sub-regional organisations have a comparative advantage and such, their role becomes crucial.  

It is therefore vital that we also begin to lay greater emphasis on preventative action and addressing root causes of conflicts thus preventing countries emerging from conflict from relapsing. It also requires UN peacekeeping operations to support sustainable political processes and engaging in early peacebuilding activities. This requires greater synergy between peacekeeping and peacebuilding mechanisms.

Peace operations are not an end in themselves but a means to an end. In this regard, we remain concerned that long standing missions such as UNTSO and MINURSO; continue despite an absence of any political will by some parties to the conflict to address the political situation on the ground.

South Africa in principle supports the UN peace operations, which in some cases are mandated to undertake a very specific enforcement task in support of political settlement. Our recent experience in the DRC with the Force Intervention Brigade demonstrates the success of enforcement action deployed in pursuit of a political solution.

South Africa is of the view that robust mandates for UN peacekeeping operation that target spoilers that threaten not only the peace process, but also the civilian population, are at times necessary to support peace processes. In this regard, the role of the Force Intervention Brigade in the DRC is a case in point.

3. Global Regional Partnership and Financing of PKO

While recognising that the primary responsibility for international peace and security lies with the United Nations Security Council, it is often regional organizations such as the African Union that are the first responders and where necessary deploy early in order to stabilize crisis situations, thus enabling the UN to deploy when conditions are more favourable. 

South Africa therefore welcomes the call by the Secretary- General for greater global-regional partnerships and burden sharing.  Similarly, we are particularly pleased with the call by both the Independent High-Level Panel and the SG for sustained, predictable and flexible funding mechanisms for African Union peace operations. In this regard, my delegation wishes to reiterate that the use of UN assessed contributions provides the most reliable, sustainable and predictable avenue of support for UN mandated AU peace operations.

Moreover, we strongly support the African Union’s stance pertaining to a shared set of principles as the basis for AU-UN Partnership as elaborated on in the Common African Position on the UN Review of Peace Operations as endorsed by the Peace and Security Council on 29 April 2015.  

4. Leadership

The Secretary-General correctly pointed out the need for increased participation by women in UN peacekeeping missions. In this regard, South Africa is one of the top contributors of females through its police deployment in UNMISS and UNAMID and Peacekeepers in MONUSCO and UNAMID.

We believe that gender mainstreaming in peace missions ensures that women’s concerns and experiences are at the forefront of the policy aspects of peacekeeping operations. We commend the work that has been done so far by the Secretary-General in ensuring that numbers of women in leadership positions are increased.
In this context, South Africa welcomes the strategic role that UN Women will play in facilitating the integration of gender perspective in the implementation of peacekeeping mandates. 

5.  Sexual Exploitation/Abuse

South Africa is fully committed to “zero tolerance” against those who commit sexual violence and abuse of women and children. These perpetrators should be held accountable in order to end impunity, especially in cases of sexual violence against women and children. More importantly a more holistic approach to addressing sexual and gender based violence needs to be adopted.

In Conclusion,

South Africa welcomes the “agenda for action” presented in the report of the Secretary General.  In view of the current peace and security challenges facing the international community, the report offers a number of useful recommendations both at a strategic and operational level that warrant our consideration and debate. South Africa stands ready to discuss the proposals presented in the report during this session of the C34 as we calibrate the UN peacekeeping machinery to effectively and efficiently address the peace and security challenges confronting us in the 21st Century and fulfilling our Charter mandate to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.

I thank you.