Statement by Sweden at the UN Security Council Open Debate on Peacekeeping Operations


National Statement delivered by Ambassador Carl Skau at the United Nations Security Council Open Debate on Peacekeeping Operations: Their potential contribution to the overarching goal of sustaining peace, Tuesday 29 August 2017, New York.

Thank you for giving me the floor. I would like to align myself with the statements to be delivered later this morning on behalf of the European Union and the Nordic countries.

Mr President,

Maintaining international peace and security is at the core of this organization's mission. Peace operations have been the most visible – and by many measurements successful – means by which we have sought to deliver on this aim. The important work of reviewing the UN's role in peace and security that has taken place over the last two years, has underlined the need to improve our efforts to prevent conflict from emerging, in managing and ending conflicts when they do, and in preventing a slide back into conflict when peace is achieved. It is clear that peace operations are integral to this work of sustaining peace.

I would like to thank the Egyptian Presidency of the Council for scheduling today's Open Debate, which creates the space for a frank and ambitious discussion in support of the Secretary-General's efforts to create a United Nations system ready to meet the challenges of sustaining peace in the 21st century.

Let me also thank the briefers for their important contributions, which have helped frame today's discussion.

Mr President,

Let me make three points on how we believe that this Council and the UN system can best organize itself, to not only respond to conflict, but to prevent it.

Firstly, neither conflict nor peace emerges from a vacuum. The drivers of conflict and the enablers of peace are essentially political. For this reason, we must recognise the 'primacy of politics' in our strategies for the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts. Long term political strategies that aim to prevent conflict and sustain peace by addressing root causes are essential. Effective political strategies should tie together all of the international community's efforts in an integrated and mutually reinforcing way.

Our work, including peace operations, needs to be people centered and results-oriented. Improving the daily lives of people is paramount, including through core tasks such as protection of civilians' physical safety and their human rights. Peacebuilding should be truly inclusive, involving governments and societies, and taking into account local and national perspectives, which are crucial to enable informed decisions. Lasting peace requires the involvement of the entire population, meaning that the full, equal, and effective participation of women should be hardwired into all of our efforts towards sustaining peace.

Building political strategies requires high-quality, context-sensitive and inclusive analysis across the whole of the conflict cycle. This should be prepared jointly by the whole of the UN system.

Let me also mention here the role of the Peacebuilding Commission, to contribute meaningfully to the Council's efforts to adopt a sustaining peace approach in peacekeeping operations. Unlocking the full potential of the Peacebuilding Commission, not least during mandate discussion and transitions of peace operations, will require more informal and frequent interactions between the Council and the PBC on a wider range of issues. The Commission is uniquely placed to convene international actors for the kind of coordinated and strategic response for sustaining peace that we know full-well is needed.

Secondly, as part of an integrated response, aimed at building long-term peace, the UN's peace and security instruments must work in tandem with development, human rights and humanitarian efforts from the outset of a mission. Human rights violations can be drivers of conflict and restoring respect for human rights will often contribute to addressing root causes and to sustaining peace. From the outset, the UN system must simultaneously aim to build the national capacity needed to address these challenges.

As members of this Council, we have a responsibility to ensure that mandates are realistic, context-tailored and flexible. Within mandates, tasks need to be prioritized, sequenced and adjusted over time. Effective implementation of mandates also requires well-trained and well-equipped peacekeepers. A clear vision of a sustainable end-state should guide integrated mission planning and leadership from the outset. How the UN system is working together to this end should be an everyday question in a conflict setting – not only a question of exit strategy.

Mr President,

Thirdly, when it comes to sustaining peace, we must never leave the job half done. Putting in place the essential building blocks I have mentioned today, will allow the UN to better sustain peace before and during transitions and the drawdown of peace operations. Early and integrated work across the UN system can ensure the sustainability of gains and that transitions are transformative and forward-looking processes. In Mali, the Council has sought to achieve this through requesting a mission-wide strategy with a view to - among other things – hand over relevant tasks to the UN Country Team, as part of a long-term exit strategy. In times of transition, national government and partners need to be fully engaged to ensure their ownership of the process. In Liberia, for example, we can draw useful lessons from the recent Peacebuilding Plan, a process which engaged both the wider UN system and the Liberian government, with support from the PBC.

When this Council asks UN Country Teams to 'step up', we have a joint responsibility to ensure that they have sufficient capacity and resources to do the job. We must find ways to avoid the so called 'financial cliff' seen in many transitions, most recently in Cote d'Ivoire, Darfur, Liberia and Haiti. For instance, strengthening rule of law institutions is often a focus of missions in transition. MINUSTAH is one example of this. Ample resources are needed to continue to underpin this focus, in which consideration to the full chain of rule of law institutions is important. For instance, the Global Focal Point on Police, Justice and Corrections is a unique tool that can act as a bridge across pillars.

Mr President,

The landmark resolutions on "Sustaining Peace" adopted in 2016 provide us with a foundation for our work.

We look forward to the Secretary-General's report on the steps taken so far to implement the sustaining peace approach across the UN system, as well as next steps. This includes concrete options for more predictable financing for conflict prevention and sustaining peace, including from assessed contributions. We will continue this discussion with our partners in the African Union during our visit next week, as well as during the high-level event planned during the General Assembly. These discussions will help us as we prepare to take stock together at our high-level meeting next spring.

Mr President,

The range and nature of threats to international peace and security are evolving and multiplying. They now include terrorism and violent extremism, the effects of climate change, and the actions of transnational organized crime - to name but a few. Such challenges beg the question of whether existing reform ideas go far enough to bring the UN conflict management machinery into the 21st century. Our focus should not only be on adapting to today's challenges, but also on anticipating in what ways conflicts will continue to evolve. Prevention must be the new watchword. This means understanding and getting ahead of events, rather than merely reacting to them.

Thank you.


Lisa Laskaridis
Head of Press and Communication, Permanent Mission of Sweden to the UN
Phone +1 212 583 2543
Mobile +1 917 239 0941
email to Lisa Laskaridis