Statement by Ambassador Rabab Fatima, Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the UN at the Opening of the 2021 Session of the Special Committee on Peacekeeping (C-34) on 15 February 2021, GA Hall

Mr. Chairman,

I congratulate you on your election as the Chair of the Special Committee. I assure you of my delegation’s full support to you and the Bureau in discharging your responsibility in this challenging time.

My delegation aligns itself with the statement delivered on behalf of NAM.

Mr. Chairman,

This year’s C-34 session is meeting in the midst of an unprecedented crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our lives everywhere. The peacekeepers and peacekeeping operations are no exception. We take note of the Secretary General’s report. It is clearly reflected in the report that, despite challenges, the peacekeepers continued to fulfill their responsibilities and contribute to maintaining a stable political and security environment in the host countries. They have also been providing important support to national pandemic response efforts of their host governments and communities by distributing essential drugs and protective equipment, and raising community awareness. In the process many of them have got exposed to the virus. We owe them our most sincere appreciation.

Mr. Chairman,

In this regard I would also like to acknowledge with gratitude the role of the relevant UN departments in supporting the peacekeeping missions. We thank them for taking swift measures to ensure the safety of the peacekeepers; while also helping the missions continue their mandate implementation in the field.

As the leading TPCC, with a large number of our troops deployed, ensuring the safety and security of our contingents is of paramount importance to us.  Over the course of years, over 150 of our peacekeepers have lost their lives in the line of peacekeeping duties.  Yet, that has not deterred us from responding to peacekeeping calls; even now, in the midst of the pandemic challenges.

Going forward, we would like to see better preparedness for tackling health and other emergencies by the peacekeeping missions. Medical capacity building and resource allocation for health-related contingencies need to get stronger focus in our policy discourses on peacekeeping.  We need to embed that in peace operation mandates with adequate resources.  We hope the current session of this committee would reflect on the lessons learnt from the ongoing pandemic and recommend actions which would ensure both the efficiency of the peace operations and the safety of the peacekeepers.

Mr. Chairman,

As the Secretary General has noted in his report, “Peacekeeping missions are performing multiple interdependent tasks in non-permissive and high-risk environments, with diminishing resources.” The challenges are indeed multi-dimensional and multifaceted, namely from: unconventional and asymmetric threats, the proliferation of armed groups, exclusion, impunity, the effects of new technologies, and climate change.

The Covid-19 pandemic has also tested the ability of the UN peace operations as they responded to the pandemic crisis while also delivering on mandates. Despite the Secretary General’s call for global ceasefire conflicts continued to ravage the lives of civilians, making the job of the peacekeepers even more challenging.

In such a shifting global environment, there is no alternative to stronger peacekeeping. It offers unique advantages including the universality of its mandate, political acceptability, and breadth of experience. We must, therefore, preserve its centrality within the international community’s wider efforts to advance global peace by strengthening the UN peacekeeping operations.

In this regard we take note of continuous efforts by the relevant departments to bring about improvements in the mission settings, including through the reform of the UN’s peace and security architecture. We also welcome the review of the A4P agenda, which is critical given the evolving nature of peace operations and the surrounding environment in the field.

Mr. Chairman,

The C-34 provides us the essential platform for a healthy debate among member states on all aspects of peacekeeping, taking into account the evolving nature of threats to peace and efforts for political solution to protracted conflicts. We must utilize this forum to its fullest potential to ensure that peacekeeping remains an effective means to end conflict and foster peace.

In this regard, my delegation would like to share some thoughts for the Committee’s consideration:

First, we continue to stress the need for further strengthening the triangular cooperation among the T/PCCs, Security Council and the Secretariat in the process of mandate setting. It is critically important that the mandates of the peacekeeping operations remain clear, realistic, and achievable, commensurate to the capabilities, ground realities, and available resources.

Second, we support the continued efforts to implement the Action for Peacekeeping agenda (A4P), particularly through in-depth and focused conversations with all stakeholders. We also welcome, in this regard, the review of the A4P agenda. We feel that the UN should further systematize the process of incorporating concerns coming from the field in its major policy documents. This will help missions to contribute effectively to prevent and tackle conflicts before they erupt into serious situations.

Third, we continue to express our concern at the high rate of fatalities and disabilities among peacekeepers in the field and stress the importance of adequate measures for ensuring the safety and security of the peacekeepers. We stand ready to support any constructive recommendation in this regard from the Committee. In this regard, we would also like to emphasize on the issue of accountability. We must break through any culture of impunity for crimes committed against peacekeepers.

Fourth, we must put the peace process on a clear political track supported by united peacekeeping and peacebuilding efforts.  We need to encourage a whole of society approach and promote the WPS and YPS agenda. It is crucial that an objective assessment of the political process guides the design and review of peacekeeping mandates. In this regard coordination and cooperation between the peacekeeping missions and the other actors engaged in the peacebuilding and sustaining peace efforts need to be fortified.

Fifth, On the question of performance of the peacekeepers, we would like to express our openness to objective assessment and appraisal; however, such assessment cannot be seen in isolation from the fundamental questions of political and operational realities.  We take note of the rolling out of ‘Comprehensive Performance Assessment System (CPAS)’ in some peacekeeping missions. We also reiterate our call to develop a zero-caveat culture in the United Nations peacekeeping operations.

Sixth, we must continue to invest in increasing the role and participation of women in peacekeeping operations. While we take note of the UN’s targeted initiatives and some achievements in this regard, we are not convinced of the current state of affairs of their low representation in the senior leadership positions, as well at the existing geographical imbalance. In this regard we welcome the adoption of Security Council Resolution 2538 and the call for increased resource allocation for creating an enabling environment for women in peacekeeping. We also call for diversification of women’s role through targeted training and capacity building. Increased participation of women in peacekeeping has been made a key strategic objective of our National Action Plan on Women Peace and Security in Bangladesh.  We stand ready to provide more women peacekeepers at all levels, including in command positions, and in diversified roles.

Finally, as co-chair, together with Italy, of the Group of Friends for leading on environmental management in the field (LEAF), we attach high importance to implementation of the UN’s environmental strategy. In this regard we stress on the importance of promoting environmentally conscious culture, attitudes and mindsets through pre-deployment and in-mission trainings. We believe that environmental management should be a spontaneous act, not necessarily high-tech and costly enterprises. In this regard, we encourage the use of locally developed solution and indigenous technologies in the protection of the environment.

I wish to conclude on the note, Mr. Chairman, by saying that Bangladesh’s commitment to peacekeeping is unwavering.  It’s a constitutional commitment.  And you can be fully assured of my delegation’s full support to you, and to the work of this Committee.

I thank you, Mr. Chairman.