Germany welcomes the initiative by the Irish Presidency to hold an open debate of the UN Security Council on Transitions in the context of peacekeeping reform and the broader discussion on the UN’s peacebuilding architecture.
As the multitude of protracted crises and recurring conflicts worldwide show, achieving and consolidating peace is a long and complex endeavor that requires continued and multi-dimensional support. With its multiple tools and instruments – from its peacekeeping operations, its political missions and special envoys, to its peacebuilding initiatives and projects – the UN is well placed to provide crucial and continued support throughout this process and fulfil its aspiration of building and sustaining peace.
In contexts of ongoing violence, peacekeeping missions can and should play a central role in creating an environment in which confidence-building initiatives and projects can be implemented and intra-societal dialogue and reconciliation can begin. This requires a sufficiently robust mandate with an adequate number of sufficiently equipped peacekeepers. Only then are they able – where mandated – to ensure the protection and enable the work of civil society organizations that focus on addressing the root causes of conflict and on building peace. Women-led organizations, youth and minorities need particular protection and attention, in order to be able to contribute to building a more peaceful and inclusive society.
For peacekeeping missions to successfully pave the way for a sustained peace, a strong, a sufficiently staffed political element is also needed, in order to actively support local peace actors, elevate the voices of local communities and civil society and maintain a close link with other UN-supported activities, i.e. projects funded via the Peacebuilding Fund. In its Presidential Statement S/PRST/2017/27 the UN Security Council acknowledges this need to adequately resource the peacebuilding component of peacekeeping missions to enable sustainable peacebuilding activities.
Additionally, as recent transitions in Sudan, Haiti, Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire have shown, it is essential that peacekeeping missions are well equipped not only with an appropriate mandate and staffing, but also with significant funding for programmatic activities for the most pressing needs in the situation, including on safeguarding human rights, security sector reform and good governance, including supporting capacity-building of host state rule of law institution such as police as well as justice and corrections.
The ongoing transition from UNAMID to UNITAMS in Sudan is case in point, a challenging process that Germany played a key role in shaping through the penholdership in this Council that we shared with the UK. This involved both laying the conceptual framework for this transition with key stakeholders and our ongoing support for UNITAMS.
In this context, I would also like to highlight the State Liaison Function concept, implemented starting from 2018 until the end of UNAMID in 2020. It has proven to be a vital tool to increase cooperation of the Peacekeeping Operation with the United Nations Country Team and to pave the way towards transition from Peacekeeping to Peacebuilding and therefore, could serve as blueprint for future transitions.
Current missions such as MINUSMA, UNMISS MONUSCO or MINUSCA clearly remind us that the protection of civilians and the prevention of human rights violations by the parties to the conflict remain a key element of peacekeeping operations, without which a successful transition to other instruments and efforts towards a sustained peace are bound to fail. The civilian population’s safety and security needs to be our lodestar throughout, and in particular in transitions where the mandate and “muscles” of a peacekeeping mission needs a follow-up through other means.
It should also be stressed that host governments need to fully respect their obligations under the respective Status of Forces Agreements to allow the peacekeepers to fully implement their mandates.
While peacekeeping missions form the basis and precondition for restoring peace in specific, particularly challenging country contexts, other elements of the broader peacebuilding architecture have a different yet equally important role in ensuring a successful path towards a lasting peace:
The Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) has, since its inception, gained in relevance, helped develop detailed, country-specific strategies towards peace and issued numerous recommendations to the Security Council and other UN fora. As the informal coordinator between the Security Council and the PBC during its last membership on the Council, Germany has contributed to strengthening the link between these two central pillars of the peacebuilding architecture. The invitation of the chair of the PBC to brief the Council constitutes an important tool to further increase their cooperation and focus it on the specific context of transitions.
The Peacebuilding Fund (PBF) plays an important role in channeling funding to help support and consolidate peace in specific country contexts. Its multitude of peace support projects throughout the world complement efforts towards successful transitions and are frequently implemented in countries with ongoing peacekeeping missions. Germany is the main contributor to the PBF and actively supports efforts to increase and diversify its funding sources in view of the increasing demand for peacebuilding projects.
In this context, Germany is looking forward to the continued discussions on peacekeeping reform in view of further adapting peacekeeping missions to transition contexts, as well as the broader peacebuilding architecture in order for the UN and the Security Council to deliver on their promise of a coherent, multi-dimensional and comprehensive peace support.