First of all, I would like to thank you, Mr. President, for your initiative to organize this meeting. I should also like to thank the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations and the Force Commanders of the peacekeeping missions represented here for providing a clear perspective of their efforts on the ground.
As the Security Council is aware, France wants very much to participate in improving the functioning of peacekeeping operations. Since they were first established, such operations have been a valuable tool in helping the United Nations to respond to the major task assigned us by the Charter — maintaining international peace and security. We are also keen to improve their effectiveness and, as a result, their strategic importance. To that end, during our presidency of the Security Council in January 2009, we launched an initiative with the British Mission whose goal was to improve the Council’s political and military follow-up to peacekeeping operations, ensure more effective management of administrative, logistical and financial aspects of missions, and further develop doctrines on complex peacekeeping issues such as protecting civilians and peacebuilding.
We have made progress on that whole host of issues thanks to the consideration everyone has given to the questions concerned, far beyond the confines of the Security Council, thanks to the Secretariat’s New Horizon non-paper and the August 2009 and February 2010 presidential statements (S/PRST/2009/24 and S/PRST/2010/2), as well as the work done by the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations. We would also like to welcome the green light given to the global support strategy, which France will monitor closely to ensure that it results in the necessary improvements in mission support.
We shall in particular pursue our efforts to strengthen the operational chain of command, improve cooperation with troop and police personnel contributors and provide more rigorous financial follow-up of peacekeeping operations. Operational budgets have indeed grown exponentially in recent years. We need to consider how to manage those budgets responsibly. The results achieved with regard to financing peacekeeping operations at the most recent session of the Fifth Committee demonstrate that such concerns are increasingly being taken into account. We have no doubt that the Secretariat will step up its efforts in that regard.
The perspective developed on the ground by mission heads is essential. I should therefore like them to share with us their thoughts on how their working methods and their relationship with Headquarters have evolved in the past two years. What do they think could be done to improve the functioning of peacekeeping operations? In particular, I should like to know their views on the following issues.
— An exercise was launched to consider the protection of civilians following the issuance of the joint study requested by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, in June 2010.To that end, operational documents were developed to allow peacekeeping operations to translate into deed the mandates we give to them to protect civilians. The United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur and the United Nations Mission in the Sudan have now developed protection strategies, which the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) is currently implementing. What main conclusions have been drawn? What are the primary difficulties facing operations in discharging their civilian protection mandate?
— With regard to MINUSTAH, the January earthquake forced it to take on tasks that are not usually part of a peacekeeping operation’s tasks. In particular, that has included improving its engineering capacities to clear rubble, restore basic infrastructure and so on. What conclusions have the Force Commanders drawn from the involvement of those engineering capacities?
— Working alongside Congolese armed forces, MONUSCO is undertaking several military operations in the eastern part of the country. The Security Council has asked the Mission to develop a specific and limited system for providing conditional support. How do the Commanders believe that this support, which henceforth will be more limited and focused only on certain battalions, will contribute both to improving civilian protection and to facilitating or hindering their disarmament, demobilization and reintegration mandate?
— Lastly, with regard to the United Nations Mission in Liberia, how is the Force Commander preparing for its inevitable drawdown and what are the lessons learned from the transition from peacekeeping to peacebuilding? Where does the mission of the peacekeeping forces end?
Before I conclude, I would like to commend General Obiakor, as others have, thank him for his work at the head of the Office of Military Affairs, and wish him every success as he continues his career.