Peace operations benefit from improved cooperation between the UN and troop-providing countries, says peacekeeping chief

UN Photo/Mark Garten Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, at the Security Council Debate on Strengthening Triangular Cooperation. (10 July 2019)

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Cooperation between the UN Secretariat; Security Council; and countries contributing troops and police to peacekeeping operations; is “a crucial factor” to enhancing those operations, the UN peacekeeping chief told the Security Council on Wednesday.

Jean-Pierre Lacroix, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, was speaking at the Council’s ‘Debate on Strengthening Triangular Cooperation’, which, he said, is “particularly relevant today”, in the light of UN chief António Guterres’s Action for Peacekeeping Initiative (A4P).

That strategy is designed to make missions stronger and safer, “refocusing peacekeeping with more realistic expectations, and mobilizing greater support for political solutions.”

Close cooperation, said Mr. Lacroix, can yield “strong results” in areas such as training, mindset, or equipment, and the perspectives and experience of the countries contributing troops and police can help to make missions more focused, better adapted and achievable.

Noting that enhanced collaboration is part of the A4P Declaration of Shared Commitments, Mr. Lacroix encouraged delegates to consider expanding the level of cooperation to ensure the success of peacekeeping missions. “In many contexts,” he added, “peacekeeping missions are likely to benefit from more consistent and closer engagement between the Security Council and the host government.”

The UN peacekeeping chief said that he, and the UN, value more meaningful dialogue between the Security Council and countries supplying troops and police, and commit to continuing efforts to deliver regular briefings, and provide information in a timely manner.

The importance of closer ties between UN peacekeeping and the African Union was also raised by Mr. Lacroix, who gave the example of the February 2019 open debates organized by Equatorial Guinea, on the African Union “Silencing the Guns  in Africa” initiative, and its role in strengthening the continent’s ability to detect and defuse crises before they can escalate.

We have to find different and new ways to operate

Mr. Lacroix’s sentiments were echoed by Lieutenant-General Dennis Gyllenspore, Force Commander of the UN Mission in Mali, MINUSMA, whose troops have suffered many losses due to “frequent, direct and complex attacks on our bases.”

Lt. Gen Gyllenspore said that he and his forces need to find different and new ways to operate, become more agile and unpredictable, and react faster. “In my opinion”, he said, “it calls for strengthening cooperation and consultation mechanisms between the field and UN Headquarters”.

The MINUSMA chief said that the UN must support countries supplying troops “from the beginning”, particularly in high-risk missions such as in Mali. Countries which pay “a higher price” in casualties must be prioritized for training, equipment and financial support. He added that “mechanisms for evaluation and accountability” must be “increased and revised”.

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