I thank you, Madame Moderator.
I thank you, Ambassador Ronaldo Costa Filho. I also thank my friends, the PRs of El Salvador and Guatemala for co-hosting this event with us, in observance of this year’s POC week.
Earlier today, the UN paid tribute to our fallen heroes in peacekeeping. Bangladesh lost 8 of her valiant peacekeepers in 2020 in the line of duty for international peace and protecting civilians. So, as we meet now, we do so, recognizing the critical need to ensure the protection of lives of all in mission settings, the civilians and the peacekeepers who are there to protect them.
Excellencies, Dear Colleagues,
I fully endorse the statement just made by my friend, Ambassador Ronaldo Costa Filho. Allow me to share a few additional remarks.
Protection of civilians is a shared responsibility. In conflict affected countries with the presence of peacekeeping missions, peacekeepers play the most critical role in fulfilling this responsibility. Over the decades, peacekeepers have been fulfilling their POC mandate despite many limitations; sometimes due to lack of corresponding capacity and resources, sometimes due to the complex political and security dynamics in the host country.
It is therefore imperative that the POC mandates are accompanied by clear strategies, capacities and resources. Equally important is to invest in the political solution of the crises in a comprehensive manner, taking into account the root causes of conflicts and vulnerabilities of the civilians in the host countries. Such long-term measures aimed at sustaining peace requires a whole-of-system approach, where peacekeepers play a significant role.
The ultimate goal of the UN peacekeeping operations is to create a peaceful environment where the civilians feel protected and empowered. This cannot be accomplished only by military operations. Many other overlapping issues are closely connected to sustaining peace, that include development, women empowerment, education, health etc. And the peacekeepers are frequently placed in a situation, where they are required to perform both military and civilian activities, particularly when it comes to community engagement.
Today, we will hear from the peacekeepers themselves, their firsthand experience, about their role and the contribution of the peacekeepers in the implementation of POC commitments through varied means of engagement with the host communities.
Before we hand over the discussion to the panelists, let me share few thoughts:
First: The primary responsibility of protecting the civilians lies with the host government; hence all our engagements should be aimed at empowering the host government and building trust between people and the authorities.
Second: The engagement of peacekeeping missions should be integrated and coordinated with other stakeholders present on the ground; such as, the UN country team, the development partners and the civil society.
Third: Protection of women and children, especially from sexual violence is critically important. Implementation of WPS agenda is important in this regard. Equally important is to engage with women-led and youth-led organizations.
Fourth: The role of peacekeepers, particularly in the transition context is crucial. Capacity building of national institutions, especially the security sector, in coordination with the host authority could be helpful in mitigating the risks of civilian harms in this context.
Fifth: Respect of international humanitarian law needs to be promoted in the host countries, irrespective of sides. At the same time accountability for gross violations of international humanitarian and human rights law should be ensured.
Finally, we must remember that protection of civilians is a constant phenomenon. All stakeholders must work together in establishing peace through socio-economic development and ensuring basic rights of the citizens. Only that way, our collective endeavor can protect the civilians from armed conflict.
I thank you for your kind attention.
I look forward to a very good discussion.
Thank you once again.