The partnership grows in Seoul
Jean-Pierre Lacroix is under-secretary-general of peace operations at the United Nations.
Cho Hyun, an ambassador, is permanent representative of the Republic of Korea to the UN.
United Nations peacekeepers make a tangible difference in the lives of millions of people every day. At a time when we are witnessing a trend of deteriorating security and political situations, more than 87,000 peacekeepers from over 120 countries are helping save lives, preventing conflict and creating conditions for lasting peace. And they are doing so while increasingly coming under attack.
These peacekeepers are part of a collective investment in global peace and security, which starts with the commitment of all partners that make up UN peacekeeping. This includes member states, the Security Council, General Assembly, host countries and regional and international organizations — all of whom have the unique ability to shape our response in some of the world’s most complex settings.
If UN peacekeeping is the international community’s most effective tool to help countries transition to peace, what do our operations need to successfully face emerging and growing threats? What is required from this partnership to ensure that we meet the expectations of those we serve and can deliver on what we have set out to accomplish?
The answers to these significant questions lie at the heart of the 2021 Seoul UN Peacekeeping Ministerial meeting on 7 and 8 December that will bring together more than 100 countries. The meeting will now be organized virtually by the Korea due to concerns surrounding the pandemic. From New York to London to Vancouver, this is the latest in a series of high-level events dating back to 2014 that has world leaders pledging substantial resources to strengthen and reinvigorate UN peacekeeping.
For example, as a result of this guiding process, the UN was able to create a stand-by force of 3,000 troops and police to deploy within 60 days, equipping us with the capability to send military resources to places such as the Central African Republic this year to respond to growing violence and shifts in the security situation. Generous contributions are helping ensure critical advances in the Women, Peace and Security Agenda, including the ability to deploy more women personnel.
The objective of this year’s meeting is to garner political support and generate concrete pledges to strengthen UN peacekeeping, particularly through Action for Peacekeeping+ (A4P+). We have made progress strengthening the effectiveness of our work since 2018 as part of the Secretary-General’s Action for Peacekeeping (A4P) agenda. A4P+, which we started earlier this year, will catalyze progress in further enhancing the effectiveness of UN peacekeeping over the next two years.
UN peacekeeping requires new, more mobile capabilities that enhance protection of both peacekeepers and civilians, experienced troops and police to help accomplish our mandates, better medical capacities and a digital transformation to increase situational awareness and confront new threats, such as misinformation and disinformation. These areas are well highlighted in the Chair’s Summary and Seoul Initiative, which the Republic of Korea will announce as the key deliverables of the meeting.
At the same time, however, we must collectively do more, in partnership with member states, to end sexual exploitation and abuse by UN personnel.
We must all play our part, including through training, accountability and support to victims. Member states are also being encouraged to increase the number of women peacekeepers serving and enhance their role, while simultaneously supporting women’s participation in peace processes.
As the host of the 2021 Seoul Ministerial and a strong supporter of UN peacekeeping, Korea will announce its generous donation of more than a dozen helicopters to deploy to our missions. Other capabilities that the UN is expecting member states to provide include rapidly deployable units, as well as training and capacity-building enhancements, with the goal of improving the overall responsiveness of military and police units.
Achieving sustainable peace requires that we continue to place political solutions at the heart of our collective efforts and partnership strategies. All of our peacekeeping missions exist to support political solutions, and elevated support for such political efforts is greatly needed from member states. The Ministerial meeting is a timely opportunity for leaders — to reaffirm their support and maximize our chances of success — the results of which will be felt for generations to come. Indeed, we owe nothing less to our peacekeepers who risk their lives each and every day, as well as the millions who count on us to succeed.