Chiefs of defence meet in New York, discuss strengthening of UN peacekeeping

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UNITED NATIONS, July 8 (APP): The heads of the armed forces and senior military officials of around 100 countries, including Pakistan, met at the
UN Headquarters in New York Friday and discussed effort to improve the overall
performance of UN peacekeeping missions as well as issues such
as rapid deployment, training, increasing the number of female
peacekeepers, and conduct and discipline.
“Our partnership has never been more important. Across the globe,
armed conflict scars countless civilians and destabilizes entire regions,” Secretary-General
Antonio Guterres told participants at the Chiefs of Defence Conference, via a video
message.
Pakistan was represented at the conference by Lieutenant General
Sher Afgun, who headed the country’s delegation.
In his remarks, the secretary-general expressed gratitude to the men
and women serving in peacekeeping, saying that UN “blue helmets” braved danger so
others could enjoy safety.
He also welcomed the Conference’s focus on gender, with a view to increasing
the number of female peacekeepers, and integrating a gender perspective into the UN
peace and security actions.
“When we have greater gender balance in our forces, we boost our protection
outreach – and we reduce the chances of sexual exploitation
and abuse,” he highlighted, urging all troop-contributing countries to deploy more women
as well as to help integrate a gender-sensitive perspective in strengthening peace.
In the same vein, Jane Holl Lute, the Special Coordinator on
improving UN response to sexual exploitation and abuse, also underscored
the need to stand together against the individual misconduct of some
troops, which, she said, “seriously injures the vulnerable and
undermines the mission and name of the United Nations.”
“Only through the continued personal leadership of the chiefs of
defence forces, and others, will we effectively prevent and respond to sexual exploitation
and abuse,” she said, adding: “We are in this
endeavour together, and together, we can root out this scourge.”
In his opening remarks, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Under-Secretary-General
for Peacekeeping Operations, highlighted that recent developments –
whether geostrategic shifts, emergence of new threats or large budget
cuts – call for greater urgency to strengthen the performance of peace operations.
” Now, more than ever before, peacekeepers need to be up to the
challenge of the mandates they are given,” he said, calling for
continued support for peacekeeping operations.
Stressing the need to eliminate sexual exploitation and abuse, he
called for putting in place measures to ensure that only troops with impeccable
backgrounds are deployed, and that rigorous and consistent measures are employed to
make certain that those responsible are held accountable for their acts.
” The success of our missions depends upon the confidence and
trust placed on us by the populations we serve. When this trust is
broken, our credibility is indelibly damaged,” he underscored.
Atul Khare, Under-Secretary-General of the Department of Field
Support, which provides administrative, finance, logistical and
technical support to peacekeeping and political missions around the
world, spoke of efforts underway to improve service delivery and to
produce better value for money.
In particular, he noted a new environmental strategy to guide UN
efforts to deliver support in a responsible manner as well as steps to improve medical
support to peacekeepers to prevent the avoidable loss
of lives.
“But we need to do more together,” he added. “We simply cannot
accept that 30 of the 287 military medical facilities in peacekeeping missions either have
not deployed or are deployed with sub-standard equipment.”
In particular, Khare highlighted the need for more female
participation in peacekeeping, urging the chiefs of defence to
redouble their efforts to contribute female personnel to serve in
missions. He also called on them to ensure that uniformed
contingents deploy rapidly and with the equipment and training
required to carry out the tasks that they have been mandated.
Held under the theme Meeting the Challenges, the conference
also included the participation of military representatives from the
African Union, the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty
Organization (NATO), as well as the Force Commanders of the UN
peacekeeping missions in Mali (MINUSMA), Central African Republic
(MINUSCA), South Sudan (UNMISS) and the Democratic Republic of the
Congo.