Minister Tuomioja's speech at Event on UN Peacekeeping

Welcoming remarks by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland, Mr. Erkki Tuomioja at Side-Event by Finland and Uruguay:
"Strengthening the Partnership: A Fresh Dialogue on UN Peacekeeping"
in New Yorm on 25 September 2013

Dear Colleagues,

On behalf of Finland I would like to welcome you all to this event. I am very pleased to see you all participating in this attempt to find new ways to strengthen UN Peacekeeping.

After a period of consolidation, the UN Peacekeeping operations have increased and with the new mission in Mali and possible new missions in Syria and Central African Republic, we expect to reach a new high in terms of resources and troops.

The missions are operating in ever more difficult and challenging circumstances. It is well established that the peacekeeping operations have become more complex, more robust and more risky. The 'standard operation' from a few decades ago could and would simply not effectively tackle the challenges of today.

The recent intergovernmental discussions on peacekeeping have proven that there is no common understanding of the challenges that the UN peacekeeping is facing and lack of consensus on the way forward. This why we – Finland, together with Uruguay and IPI – have invited you – member states with strong interest in peacekeeping – to take stock of the situation. We aim at an open and frank dialogue on new challenges in order to restore our common faith and political consensus around the UN peacekeeping.

I would like to highlight some of the issues that need special attention and which we will hopefully be discussing tonight.

First, about the mandates. As the nature of conflicts has changed, the mandates of the UN Peacekeeping operations have evolved. Instead of monitoring cease fire and border agreements, many new peacekeeping operations are focused on restoring the state authority, or have a broad mandate with tasks ranging from protecting civilians, assisting in political processes to supporting rule of law sector. UN Peacekeeping mandates have in many cases become more robust with stronger rules of engagement, as we have seen in Mali and the DRC. This has challenged the very principles of UN Peacekeeping – consent, impartiality and non-use of force. It also has a direct impact on the safety and security of the peacekeepers serving in the operations. Sending blue helmets into exceedingly dangerous situations must in turn be accompanied by new ways to ensure their safety, to the extent possible.

Second, about resources and capabilities. The fact is there is a mismatch between the scale and complexity of peacekeeping and existing capabilities. We need host of new capabilities, some military some civilian: better trained solders, high tech equipment and civilians able to contribute to restoration of state authority. The bottom line here is whether we are ready and willing to share the burden. Around the table I see many states that are making a major contribution. The foreseeable increase of the peacekeeping will force us to contribute even more or find other states willing to do it.

We should bear in mind that the UN peacekeeping is relatively cost-effective. The UN peacekeeping budget accounts for only less than 1 % of the global military spending. However, this is not to say that we should not get more value for our money.
Third, about new types of missions. In the future, there will be increasing demand for more agile and cost-effective field –based special political missions (or peacekeeping “light”) focusing on mediation, conflict prevention and peace building. Finland has been active in this field and we see these operations as important complement to the PKOs, not replacing the PKOs. This is an area of conflict management that still requires much development at the UN. For peacekeeping operations this means, however, that their ability to interact with these other kind of UN operations, and with the country hosting them, must be improved.

Fourth, about co-operation with other organisations. In many crisis theatres UN is not alone, but working side by side with other organizations and regional and subregional organizations. Partnerships in multidimensional and complex crisis situations have become more important for the success of securing peace and security. Hybrid operations, especially when consisting of military and civil components, require new skills and focused cooperation.

Fifth, about the need of partnerships. Moreover I would like to emphasize the need for new partnership and common vision between the key actors, namely the Secretariat, troop and police contributing countries and Security Council. A common set of goals and objective would be needed between those that authorize, those who implement, those who host peacekeeping missions and those that contribute to UN peacekeeping.

These are some of the issues that urgently need to be addressed.

I would like to conclude that the UN Peacekeeping has been a success story for almost sixty years. Finland is very proud that we have been able to play a part in it from the beginning.

I wish we will have a frank and operationally minded discussion today, which hopefully leads to some new ideas how to strengthen the partnership for Peacekeeping.