|Statement by Ambassador Palitha Kohona|
|Wednesday, 24 February 2010 08:24|
Statement by Ambassador Palitha Kohona
Let me congratulate you on your able stewardship of the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations and also extend my compliments to the members of the Bureau and the Chairman of the Working Group for their valuable contributions. We further wish to take this opportunity to thank Under-Secretary-General, Alain Le Roy, for his good work, and Ms Susana Malcora, Under-Secretary-General of the Dept. of Field Support.
My delegation associates itself with the statement made by the Representative of Morocco on behalf of the NAM. We join with other delegations in expressing our deepest condolences to the people of Haiti and to those who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving under the UN banner, particularly the members of MINUSTAH. The silent and often unheralded contribution of UN peacekeepers is greatly appreciated by Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is gratified that its own peacekeepers in Haiti did not suffer any loss and are able to continue playing a valuable role in the search and rescue operations in Haiti following the disaster. Consistent with their training, they continue to provide assistance to the displaced in a proactive manner.
International peacekeeping operations today are an important mechanism in the international community’s approaches for ending conflicts, dealing with crises and maintaining the peace. Peacekeepers, properly deployed, can ensure the consolidation of peace, create space for protagonists to enter a peace process and ensure conditions for economic activities to resume. Today, peacekeeping often covers a far more extensive range of responsibilities and a more complex mandate than it used to. Today these Missions have become central to the protection of civilians, disarming and demobilizing combatants and protecting property. Most recently, the mandate has been extended to expelling foreign elements from the host territory.
We need to address carefully issues such as security sector reforms and increasing shortages of personnel and resources. Sometimes, these shortfalls are so acute that they call into question the ability of particular Missions to carry out their mandated functions. To increase the likelihood of success of Missions, we must evaluate situations on the ground realistically and set priorities given the limited resources available. Therefore, our common goal should be to determine ways and means to improve UN peacekeeping, one decade after the issuance of the Brahimi Report. Despite the ever present criticisms, UN peacekeeping has been a successful innovation.
Serious risks remain to the safety and security of peacekeeping personnel. The safety and security of service personnel deployed in Peacekeeping Missions are a matter of utmost concern to us as a troop contributing country. We encourage all countries to become party to the UN Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel. We reiterate the NAM position that the best assurances against risks is a well resourced, equipped and mandated Mission that is not deployed in a void or in situations in a specific context where the political process is non existent or compromised.
We also would like to draw attention to the issue of outstanding payments and reimbursements that the UN currently owes to the troop contributing countries. In this regard, we urge that all member States should take early action to pay their assessed contributions to overcome the present situation.
The credibility and integrity in UN Peacekeeping Missions depend on the proper conduct of Mission personnel. Any misdemeanor on the part of peacekeeping personnel is a grave breach of trust, and misconduct undermines the authority and respect the vast majority of peacekeepers strive to build and maintain. We commend the work carried out by the DPKO to promote accountability and to improve the conduct of the troops through increased awareness and training.
Sri Lanka has made a modest contribution of troops to UN peacekeeping. With our own success in defeating one of the most ruthless terrorist organizations, rescuing almost 300,000 civilians held hostage by the terrorists and facilitating a large scale humanitarian assistance operation for those who escaped from the terrorists, our armed forces and Police are now prepared to enhance their contribution of personnel for UN peacekeeping.
We note with pride that when allegations were made against some of our peacekeeping personnel in the field, we immediately investigated them and took firm and appropriate disciplinary action. The discipline and reputation of our peacekeepers serving with the UN is paramount to us. Protection of civilians’ lies at the heart of peacekeeping operations and the ability to protect civilians is a test of its relevance in crisis management. Clearly, the UN cannot be an absolute guarantor of the safety and security of civilians within its areas of operation. The UN peacekeepers must also provide essential security and support to Missions and the fragile institutions emerging from conflict. Expectations in this regard need to be managed. In this regard, Sri Lanka believes that more levels of information sharing, coordination and appropriate consultations with troop-contributing countries should be better organized, so that they have an opportunity to express their views before a mission is established.
In conclusion, we reiterate our commitment to the endeavors of the UN peacekeeping operations bearing in mind that improved peacekeeping operations benefit the cause of world peace. With our fully fledged training facility for peacekeepers, Sri Lanka remains committed to continue its support for UN peacekeeping operations.
Thank you Madam Chair.