Fiji reaffirms commitment to global peacekeeping efforts

Members of the Republic of the Fiji Military Forces march to the Albert Park in Suva as Fiji marks the 40th anniversary of the country's participation in UN peacekeeping in June earlier this year. Picture ATU RASEA

FIJI has always and will continue to consistently contribute to the noblest ideal of the mission of the United Nations – that is to maintain peace.

Fiji’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Dr Satyendra Prasad underscored this while reaffirming Fiji’s commitment to global peacekeeping efforts to the UN Security Council during an open debate on peacekeeping operations.

The debate took place against the backdrop of the recent push to strengthen UN peace operations, marked by the 2015 report of the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations (HIPPO) and by the UN Secretary-General  Antonio Guterres’ reform initiatives regarding the UN’s peace and security architecture.

Dr Prasad stressed that Fiji has never shied away from its peacekeeping obligations with the UN and that the internationalisation of conflicts only underscores further the central role the UN plays in the resolution of conflicts.

Earlier in June of this year, Fiji had marked its 40th anniversary of the country’s participation in UN peacekeeping.

“In a more integrated world, the UN and its Security Council remains the most uniquely placed organisation to resolve conflicts and build and sustain peace,” he said.

“This debate is therefore so fundamental in restating the basic truth. We need to remind ourselves of the great responsibilities that the Charter of the UN places on this Council every day,” Dr Prasad said.

 

Fiji marked the 40th anniversary of the country’s participation in UN peacekeeping in June earlier this year. Picture ATU RASEA/FILE

 

With conflicts becoming more complex and global, Dr Prasad said the UN had the centralised capability to design peacekeeping interventions, secure political support and mandates, and secure financial commitment to sustain peacekeeping efforts long enough for politics and development to take over.

“When the UN does peacekeeping well, we save lives, we promote development and we demonstrate progress across the relevant SDG’s. When we do peacekeeping poorly – too many lives are lost, human development regresses, communities are worse off and politics and development fail their communities.”

“When peacekeepers fall short of the high standards expected of them, they fail people and communities that they have been mandated to protect. They weaken the chances of success of the overall mission.”

Dr. Prasad also underscored that Fiji takes its peacekeeping responsibilities extremely seriously and is making consistent efforts to improve performance and standards.

“As a small but significant troop contributing country, we have an obligation to do a lot more to lift performance and discharge duties and obligations to the highest standards expected and demanded by this Council. These standards are ours as well,” Dr. Prasad said.

He also took the opportunity to commend the United Kingdom, Russia, China, US, Australia and New Zealand for assisting Fiji to strengthen its peacekeeping capabilities, preparedness and skills and leadership and human rights.

Fiji recently formalised an agreement with China that will see $10 million in military aid from China flowing towards Fiji’s peacekeeping and disaster relief efforts.

 

UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix briefs the Security Council. Picture: UN Photo/Manuel Elias

 

Highlighting complex and evolving challenges during his briefing at the debate, the head of UN peacekeeping Jean-Pierre Lacroix called for heightened vigilance and a more robust response to existential threats against both peacekeepers and those they strive to defend.

Mr Guterres also urged those countries with advanced military capability, to provide more troops and police to UN peace operations as well as vital equipment and logistics, including helicopters, counter-IED capacities, rapid reaction forces, and medical support.

He called for troop and police contributing countries to undergo better training, prior to being deployed.

“Improving peacekeeping is, by its very essence, a collective endeavour,” Mr Lacroix said.

“Ensuring that our missions are fit for purpose and perform well, requires action by all of us and all of us working together,” he added, noting the role of the UN Secretariat, Member States, countries which contribute personnel, host nations and regional organizations.

In March, UN Secretary-General António Guterres launched the Action for Peacekeeping (A4P), to strengthen global political commitment to peacekeeping operations. He also called on Member States to join him in developing a set of mutually-agreed principles and commitments to create peacekeeping operations fit for the future, with the goal of reaching a formal agreement by the end of the year.

Specific efforts include the Declaration of Shared Commitments, which has been endorsed by 55 nations (as of 11 September) as well as thematic consultations on peacebuilding; performance; protection of civilians; partnerships; and political dimensions, such as peace operation mandate and resources, role of the Security Council.

Meanwhile, Fiji is working with all permanent Members in the Security Council to strengthen the country’s peacekeeping capabilities, preparedness and skills.

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