Statement by the Deputy Permanent Representative of South Africa to the United Nations, Ambassador Xolisa Mabhongo, during the United Nations Security Council Open Debate on Investing in Peace: Improving Safety and Performance of UN Peacekeepers, 07 May 2019

Madam President,

South Africa wishes to thank the Republic of Indonesia for organising the open debate on this important matter. 

We also thank the Secretary-General, the Force Commander of MONUSCO Lt. General Elias Rodrigues Martins Filho; and Dr. Bjorn Holmberg, the Director of the Challenges Forum for their comprehensive briefings. South Africa aligns itself with the statement to be delivered by the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement.

Madam President,

My delegation recognises and reaffirms the importance of peacekeeping as one of the most effective tools available to the UN in the promotion and maintenance of international peace and security, as well as in the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts.

As the body entrusted with the deployment of UN peacekeeping operations and in the context of new emerging threats faced by our troops and UN personnel, the Security Council must ensure that operations are:

(i) Fully resourced;
(ii) Entrusted with the appropriate mandate to respond to the context-specific environment in which they are deployed; and
(iii) Adequately equipped with troops that are able to protect themselves in the process of carrying out their mandates.

Madam President,

In our view, the safety and security of the peacekeepers should also be strengthened by adopting the use of modern technology in peacekeeping operations. The UN should adopt the use of smart technology and heightened key capabilities to enable peacekeepers to counter any attack by armed groups and other forms of asymmetrical threats increasingly prevalent in peacekeeping.

Madam President,

South Africa reaffirms the primacy of the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations (C-34) in making UN peacekeeping policy. We regret that the Substantive Session of the C-34 that concluded in March 2019, was unable to adopt its annual report. We urge all Member States to work in unison towards reaching consensus on issues that are pertinent in the discharge of the Council’s mandate. The C-34’s chapters on the enhancement of African peacekeeping capacities and best practices training are relevant in our discussion today.

Madam President,

South Africa acknowledges the increased and vital role regional organisations play in peace-making and peacekeeping efforts. Regional organisations such as the African Union are the first responders to deploy early where necessary, in order to stabilise crisis situations, thus enabling the UN to deploy when conditions are more favourable.

Therefore, partnerships with regional organisations, as envisaged in Chapter VIII of the UN Charter, will address some of the constraints faced by the UN in the implementation of successful peace operations. It is our firm view that the efforts of regional organisations are indispensable and there is merit in the UN developing and strengthening their capacities.

South Africa wishes to reiterate the need to enhance the predictability, sustainability and flexibility of financing of AU-led peace support operations authorised by the Security Council. This principle has been endorsed by this Council and we must continue to support it.

Madam President,

We also need to ensure the availability of the necessary training and capacity required to increase the number of women in peacekeeping operations. Thus, South Africa will continue supporting efforts aimed at advancing women’s meaningful representation and participation in peacekeeping missions, such as  the opportunities presented by the Elsie Initiative for Women in Peace Operations, of which we are a member.

Programmes aimed at female military officers have been undertaken in partnership with UN Women and the Government of Norway, with the assistance of the UN Department of Political Affairs as well as the AU.

South Africa is fully committed to the zero-tolerance policy against sexual exploitation in peacekeeping operations. We have developed a comprehensive institutionalised pre-deployment sexual exploitation and abuse induction program in order to raise the level of consciousness and efficiency, as well as the command accountability, of our deployed troops.

Furthermore, South Africa is providing additional in-mission training interventions on a continuous basis to reinvigorate troops’ situational awareness and mission readiness in terms of Command and Control matters, Leisure time utilization, Protection of Civilians, Human rights standards and SEA.

We are also a member of and fully endorse the UN Secretary-General’s Circle of Leadership on the Prevention of and Response to Sexual Exploitation and Abuse in United Nations Operations.

In operationalizing Action for Peacekeeping (A4P), enhancing partnerships and strengthening performance, South Africa is sharing its expertise and training competencies with the Force Intervention Brigade Partners, in MONUSCO.

The Tactical Intelligence Unit (TIU) course presented for 6-weeks in South Africa for our own troops as well as those from Tanzania and Malawi, as preparation for pre-deployment to the DRC, is a case in point. This course seeks to ensure a common operational picture and to solidify operational effectiveness.

Madam President,

To conclude and in reply to the questions in the concept note for this debate, South Africa would like to make the following recommendations:

(i) On pre-deployment verification, we propose that the UN consider establishing Technical Training Teams that will provide workshops to the peacekeeping training institutions of TCCs and PCCs, so as to assist them in translating UN Doctrine to improve field training as well as to identify and correct capacity gaps during the preparation of forces prior to deployment;

(ii) Furthermore, TCCs and PCCs need to analyse the scope of intervention operations as they relate to the security landscape in the theatre of conflict. This will help guide the development of scenarios for military units and form a baseline for mission specific training according to real time situations that military units are deployed to;

(iii) The UN Secretariat further need to expand the reach and the number of UN peacekeeping training centres on the African continent as well as in other regions. This would supplement the activities of both the Member States and the UN in capacitating and training peacekeepers; and

(iv) Consideration should be given to the standardisation of peacekeeping doctrine between UN and regional peacekeeping training institutions with a view to developing a common doctrine on peacekeeping.

We believe that these recommendations can contribute to improving the training and capacity needs of our peacekeepers.

I thank you

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

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