3 June 2014
Panel discussion on the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers
Introductory Remarks of Mr. Michael Møller
United Nations Under-Secretary-General
Acting Director General of the United Nations Office at Geneva
Commemoration of the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers
on the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers
Tuesday, 3 June 2014 at 15:45
Distinguished Ambassadors and Panellists
Dear Members of the International Association of Soldiers
Ladies and Gentlemen:
It is a great pleasure to open the panel discussion to mark the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers. I am very happy to welcome here today the Ambassadors of three leading troop-contributing countries – Pakistan, Ghana and Jordan, a distinguished representative of SWISSINT, the Swiss centre for peacekeeping operations, and Mr. Attar-Bayrou from the International Association of Soldiers for Peace. Thank you for being with us, and for your commitment to peacekeeping.
The theme for 2014, as you have already heard, is United Nations Peacekeeping: A Force for the Future. Since the first peacekeeping mission in 1948, we have deployed 69 peacekeeping operations – 56 of them since 1988. Today, there are some 116,000 men and women actively serving in 16 peacekeeping missions on four continents.
The challenges have evolved significantly over the past 66 years. I have seen these developments, and the differences across our missions, having overseen peacekeeping matters in the Executive Office of the Secretary-General and having served in Cyprus and Haiti. And I see the ongoing development in the scope and complexity of the mandates. It is not just that peacekeeping is in high demand – the demands on peacekeepers themselves are also very high. And the expectations are even higher.
So what are the challenges today? What adjustments does peacekeeping need to make to meet them? How should peacekeeping tackle the financial constraints of today and deliver “value for money”? How do we make sure that we can meet the expectations that communities rightly have of us? In my view, one of the key challenges is ensuring that the mandates given to us by our Member States are matched by adequate resources to enable effective implementation. If they are not, then we will inevitably disappoint those we serve, we will not live up to their expectations, and eventually that undermines both the credibility and the legitimacy of peacekeeping. This is an important and inevitable responsibility for Member States.
Beyond the mandates and the financing, we also need to address the tools available to peacekeeping. How do we modernize and use new tools and approaches? Should United Nations peacekeepers act more robustly to protect civilians, as a recent report suggested?
These are just some of the many pertinent questions on the future of United Nations Peacekeeping that I hope we will touch upon in today’s discussion.
Thank you again for being with us to mark the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers – and welcome to the Palais des Nations.