posted on Mon 6 May 2019 3:33 PM
Peacekeeping: Open Debate and Presidential Statement on Training and Capacity Building

Tomorrow (7 May), the Security Council will hold an open debate on “Investing in Peace: Delivering Quality Training and Capacity Building to Improve Safety and Security and Performance of UN Peacekeepers”. Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi will chair the meeting. Secretary-General António Guterres; the force commander of the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), Lieutenant General Elias Rodrigues Martins Filho; and the director of the secretariat of the International Forum for the Challenges of Peace Operations, Björn Holmberg, are expected to brief. A presidential statement is expected to be adopted at the meeting.

The September 2018 Declaration of Shared Commitments on UN Peacekeeping Operations, endorsed by 151 member states and four regional organisations, recognised the importance of training for performance and for safety and security. The Declaration included a commitment by member states to provide well-trained and well-equipped uniformed personnel and to support the effective development and delivery of peacekeeping training, including pre-deployment preparation of personnel and capabilities, and the existing human rights screening policy. Member states expressed support for “a light coordination mechanism related to training and capacity building” and emphasised the need for increased funding to better support training. Furthermore, the Secretariat committed to provide member states with training materials and standards that match operational requirements.

Also in September, the Council adopted resolution 2436, which recognised that training is one of the critical factors on which the effective implementation of peacekeeping mandates is contingent upon. The resolution further welcomed the commitment of member states to support improved training and capacity building activities, including pre-deployment training and assessments, triangular partnerships (among the Secretariat, the Security Council and troop- and police-contributing countries), co-deployments, and smart pledging (joint commitments of personnel or equipment from two or more states). It also welcomed the Secretary-General’s commitment to implement the light coordination mechanism, within existing resources, and encouraged this mechanism to be made operational as soon as possible.

In his November 2018 report to the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations (C-34), the Secretary-General updated member states on the implementation of a new peacekeeping training plan focusing on three areas:

  • developing and disseminating training standards;
  • building the capacity of troop- and police-contributing countries for training delivery; and
  • verification that the training adheres to UN standards and that only trained personnel have been deployed.

A concept note circulated by Indonesia ahead of the open debate describes how the challenges faced by UN peacekeepers continue to outpace the allocated resources and drain the pool of capabilities contributed by member states. It encourages participants in the open debate to discuss the innovative measures that the Secretariat, troop- and police-contributing countries and other member states can take to identify capacity gaps, improve the quality of pre-deployment and in-mission training, and develop capacity.

The discussion takes place after the last session of the C-34 in February-March was unable to agree to its annual report as a result of substantive differences among member states, particularly regarding funding modalities of AU peace support operations. The open debate will be an opportunity for the UN membership to address issues that would have been reflected in the annual report and renew political commitments to the role that training and capacity building play in support of mandate implementation.

In the lead-up to the meeting, Council members negotiated a draft presidential statement on the issue of training and capacity development. Issues that were raised in the negotiations included how to advance this issue after the adoption of resolution 2436 in September 2018, to what extent to incorporate language from the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations (C-34) and how to refer to training and capacity development on topics such as human rights, international humanitarian law and sexual and gender-based violence.

In the end, the presidential statement to be adopted tomorrow was significantly shortened from the original draft to achieve consensus. It welcomes meetings such as the UN Peacekeeping Ministerial, the UN Chiefs of Defence Conference and the UN Chiefs of Police Summit as a means to strengthen support to peacekeeping operations, including in the area of training and capacity building and underscores the importance of fulfilling the pledges made by member states at the UN Peacekeeping Ministerial in 2019. It further welcomes the Secretary-General’s efforts to mobilise all partners and stakeholders through the “Action for Peacekeeping” initiative, and recognises the added value of the Declaration of Shared Commitments on Peacekeeping Operations with regard to training and capacity building. This is the first pronouncement of the Council regarding the Declaration, although the final formulation in the presidential statement only refers to language regarding training and capacity building.