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Written Statement of the Federal Republic of Germany for the Open Debate of the UN Security Council on “Protecting the Protectors: Technology and Peacekeeping”, August 18, 2021

18.08.2021 - Speech

Germany welcomes the Indian initiative to hold an Open Debate of the UN Security Council on “Technology and Peacekeeping”.

The use of modern technologies is becoming increasingly important if we want to seize our resources more efficiently in order to achieve mission objectives, to implement mandates (for example with regard to the Protection of Civilians) and to protect peacekeepers  more effectively.

The safety and security of our peacekeepers remains of utmost importance and is not negotiable. Technologies can make a tangible difference and they contribute to saving lives of peacekeepers who operate in increasingly dangerous environments and who are exposed to complex threat scenarios. One concrete example is camp protection: while a basic protection level is required to control the perimeters of the camp and the areas around the camp, additional technologies, such as a detection and warning system against indirect fires, will further contribute to enhancing the protection of camps.

Germany provides the sense and warning system MANTIS for the air space around Camp Castor and the UN Super Camp in Gao, Mali, thereby improving the safety and security of all peacekeepers deployed therein.

The utilization of technologies must assist the fulfilment of mandated tasks and it will contribute to the provision of essential situational awareness. Modern Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) like the German HERON 1 capability to MINUSMA are means of first choice to monitor large, often remote areas. These systems and other technologies can also contribute to supporting accountability and to minimizing harm to civilians in armed conflict.

The current UN pilot project “Radio Mining” in MINUSMA (co-financed by Germany and the Netherlands) serves as an additional example for the improvement of the mission’s situational awareness by analyzing radio broadcasts. Data-based monitoring of hate speech and calls to violence in social media at the local, regional and national levels, Artificial Intelligence-based early warning systems and other technological tools all contribute to better anticipating of risks and violence and, hence, increase the security of both UN peacekeepers and local civilians in the operational areas.

In order to be able to leverage the opportunities and the potential of technologies, training of peacekeepers in particular on digital technologies remains critical. We need a common understanding of the effective use of the different forms of technologies, their respective advantages for the mission, but also limitations and potential risks they might carry.

At the same time, it is clear that only enhancing digital capabilities and deploying high-end technologies to missions will not create an advantage all by itself. Structures have to be aligned, processes to be optimized and interoperability to be enhanced in order to set necessary pre-conditions for the full integration and maximum impact of modern technologies on mandate fulfillment.

In this context, Germany welcomes the launch of the “Strategy for the Digital Transformation of UN Peacekeeping” as a cornerstone for the enhanced integration of technology in peacekeeping and is looking forward to the discussions on technology as a cross-cutting theme for the Peacekeeping Ministerial in Seoul this December.

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