Statements and Speeches
Statement by Mr. Mahtlase Mminele, Charge d'Affaires of the Permanent Mission of the Republic of South Africa to the United Nations, to the United Nations Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations
21 February 2017, New York
I wish to congratulate you for the able manner in which you are steering the work of the Committee. Please be assured of South Africa's full support to ensure the 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.
In our national capacity, we wish to focus in particular on five broad but interrelated areas, the safety and security of peacekeepers; (ii) the political solution to conflicts; security sector reform, (iv) the role of women in peacekeeping and (v) sexual exploitation and abuse in peacekeeping missions.
On Safety and Security
United Nations peacekeepers are deployed in support of political or peace processes authorised by the UN Security Council. These troops are working with the aim to attain sustainable peace. Peacekeepers continue to perish while they carry out their duties. South Africa, as a Troop Contributing Country, knows the pain of losing our troops operating as peacekeepers. Attacks against peacekeepers must be strongly condemned and should be investigated promptly with perpetrators held accountable for their deplorable actions.
The reality of the nature of conflict is that it is continuously evolving and that new asymmetrical threats to global peace and security are emerging which threaten the peace and stability of states and regions. Acts of terrorism are also directed against peacekeeping missions.
As emphasized in the 2015 High Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations (HIPPO), United Nations Missions should not be mandated to conduct military counter terrorism operations because they are not suited for such actions.
However, the United Nations is presently deployed in a multitude of environments where it faces asymmetric and violent threats such as in Somalia, Libya, Mali, Iraq and Afghanistan.
As a Troop Contributing Country, South Africa believes that we have a responsibility to ensure that our troops have the capacity to operate in a secure environment.
As the body entrusted with the deployment of UN peacekeeping operations and in the context of asymmetric threats where our troops and UN personnel are vulnerable, the Security Council must ensure that these operations are fully resourced, entrusted with the appropriate mandate to respond to the context specific environments in which they are deployed and adequately equipped to protect themselves and defend their mandate.
Furthermore, in this modern age we should make use of all relevant and available resources, including the use of technology in order to enhance the effectiveness of UN peace operations in responding to asymmetrical threats. The deployment of MONUSCO's Force Intervention Brigade is a credible example of success that could be achieved to address potential threats to the peace mission.
Emphasis on political solutions to conflict
On his first day in office, the Secretary-General called on all of us to "resolve to put peace first" and he has emphasised conflict prevention as a priority. South Africa agrees with this perspective and holds the view that while we must undoubtedly aim to strengthen the tools at our disposal in addressing conflicts as they arise, we must also emphasize the preventive approach in addressing conflict and its root causes.
The recent High Level reviews have emphasised the importance of prioritizing conflict prevention, avoiding spending vast amounts on costly peacekeeping and humanitarian responses and to protect developmental gains. There is thus a need to bring prevention and mediation to the centre of achieving international peace and security. Political solutions should be the ultimate objective of all UN peace operations.
South Africa believes that global peace and stability will remain elusive if we do not address the nexus between security and development. Sustainable peace can only be achieved by building a just world and a rules-based international order which is inclusive and addresses the root causes of conflicts such as poverty, injustice and discrimination.
South Africa acknowledges the increased and vital role regional organisations play in peacemaking and peacekeeping efforts. Regional organizations such as the African Union 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. 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.
The HIPPO report calls 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 contribution provides the most reliable, sustainable and predictable avenue of support for UN Security Council mandated AU peace operations.
On Security Sector Reform
State institutions are the first to collapse during conflict situations and those organs of state such as the judiciary, the police and military are weakened to serve the few.
As Co-Chairs, together with Slovakia, of the Group of Friends on Security Sector Reform, South Africa believes that Security Sector Reform (SSR) is a fundamental component of multidimensional peacekeeping and peacebuilding. SSR is essential for addressing the root causes of conflict and in building the foundations of long-term peace and development.
The fact is that SSR assists countries in maintaining peace and ensures that people are safer through the enhanced effectiveness and accountability of security institutions operating under civilian control, within a framework of the rule of law and human rights.
On the Role of Women in peacekeeping
South Africa remains fully committed in support of, and to the full and effective implementation of Resolution 1325. South Africa also views women's role in conflict prevention, resolution and mediation as fundamental. This is demonstrated by the progressive increase in a number of South African women leaders and women peacekeepers dealing with issues of peace and security, both in national government and the AU/UN systems.
South Africa considers the Civil Society and women's organizations important partners in efforts aimed at responding and preventing sexual violence and gender-based violence and in providing victims and survivors with relevant and comprehensive support.
In line with the Security Council resolution 1325, South Africa continues to mainstream and promote full gender participation in peacekeeping operations. South Africa encourages member states to contribute more female personnel to UN missions.
Linked to resolution 1325, is the importance of addressing sexual violence in conflict, which is an integral aspect of the overall Women, Peace and Security agenda. It affects health and safety of women and thus impacts on economic and social stability.
On Sexual Exploitation/Abuse
Sexual exploitation in conflict remains one of the most harrowing and serious problems facing the civilian population who have to endure the wanton targeting of vulnerable groups in times when state authority is undermined.
South Africa remains committed to addressing the scourge of conflict-related sexual violence against women in all its manifestation, and will work tirelessly in supporting the broader global response to ending this blight, within the broader context of addressing the root causes of both conflict and sexual violence in general.
South Africa is fully committed to a zero tolerance policy against sexual exploitation in peacekeeping operations and has taken strong, immediate and decisive action against those found guilty of such abuses. This is in line with the Government's position on gender equality and women in peace and security matters.
In conclusion, Mr Chair,
South Africa stands ready to discuss the proposals presented in the report during this session of the C34. We hope to recalibrate the UN peacekeeping machinery to effectively and efficiently address the peace and security challenges confronting us in the 21st Century and fulfil our Charter mandate to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.
We also wish to pay tribute to the men and women who have served and continue to serve in UN Peacekeeping operations and commend their dedication and courage. We take this opportunity to pay special tribute to those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in the service of achieving international peace and security.
I thank you.