Remarks at the UN Security Council Summit on Peacekeeping

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
United Nations
New York City
September 23, 2010

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, President Gul, and I commend the Council and the Turkish leadership and the Secretary General for this important statement that will be issued at the end of this Council meeting, and for the emphasis placed on the centrality of peacemaking, peacekeeping, peace-building.


I think we have heard today and we’ll hear from the rest of our colleagues how important it is to improve these functions as both a humanitarian and strategic imperative. I am pleased that the statement itself emphasizes reducing and resolving conflicts, and also providing better protection to civilians from violence, including protecting women and children from sexual violence. And I’m very glad that it is clear-eyed about the UN’s current limitations and recognizes that all of us as Member States have a responsibility to work together to improve this core function.


I have seen the good that the United Nations has accomplished all over the world and I have been privileged to meet many of the dedicated men and women who work under the blue flag in troubled lands very far from their homes. Places like Liberia, where UN forces have provided the space and security that war-torn country needed to begin putting itself back together. Pakistan, where UN aid workers are assisting people whose homes and livelihoods have been washed away by the floods. And of course, Haiti, where UN peacekeepers, led by Brazil, were immediately back on the streets after the earthquake despite having suffered grievous losses themselves. Their presence has provided much-needed order, stability, and hope in so many places. And we should never forget the sacrifices and service of these soldiers, police officers, advisers and aid workers, who do the hard work and face the danger far from this hall that we are in today.


Last year, President Obama met with the leaders of top troop and police-contributing countries to thank them and discuss how to make UN peacekeeping more effective. And I’d like to take this opportunity to reaffirm our appreciation for the contributions of all of the nations that have made the financial commitments. And we will do our best to work together to improve every aspect of UN peacekeeping operations.


As the statement says, these undertakings have become increasingly complex. It is no longer enough to just provide peacekeepers; that must be accompanied by effective mediation, peacemaking and peace-building.


We are concerned about the growing gap between multifaceted mission requirements and the resources available to meet them. Too often, despite their ambitious mandates, UN missions lack key capacities. They don’t have enough helicopters, they don’t have enough medic units, they don’t have enough police mentors or crisis response tools. And they’re often hampered by inadequate efforts to improve governance and the rule of law. Sending out these missions without the resources and support they need undermines their effectiveness and jeopardizes the safety of UN personnel. I also very much wish to associate myself with the comments of the president of Uganda that we need to do more in cooperation with regional forces and with countries themselves.


Ultimately, the countries we are trying to help stabilize and the civilians we are trying to protect pay the price of our inadequate financing, organizing, and executing of these missions. So improvement begins with clear, credible and achievable mandates for all UN missions, and of course, that starts right here.


The United States also strongly supports operational reforms that would enable UN field missions to deploy more rapidly, with adequate numbers of well-equipped and well-trained troops and police, and with the quality of leadership and civilian expertise they require. And we support management reforms for improved efficiency, accountability and transparency.


The United States is expanding our efforts to help other countries train and supply formed police units that have the skills and experience to fulfill these difficult missions. These police units provide a critical bridge between short-term security operations and long-term work on governance and the rule of law. And there should be a special focus on boosting the number of women police officers and peacekeepers, like the Indian women I met who were serving so well in Liberia. The United States is also funding new UN efforts to integrate the protection of civilians into every facet of its missions, from strategic planning to on-the-ground operations.


It is heartbreaking when we receive reports, either from the UN itself or through the press, that civilians near where UN troops are stationed continue to suffer horrific attacks and violence. One place where we need better coordination and where it is absolutely urgent is the Democratic Republic of Congo, where sexual and gender-based violence against civilians has reached unimaginable proportions. Last year, after visiting the DRC and meeting with women who were brutally assaulted and raped, I chaired the Council’s adoption of Resolution 1888 to combat sexual violence in conflict zones. I regret to say we have not made progress.


Today, I am announcing that the United States will provide new funding to help implement that important measure of 1888, including the establishment of the Special Representative’s office and the ramping up of its efforts to support justice and accountability. We will also contribute to training and protection for those who work for accountability on the ground in the DRC and to help the DRC develop and implement its own justice mechanisms.


The United States is, as we have been from the very beginning, committed to improving UN operations, not just because we think it’s the right thing to do and not just because the humanitarian imperative is so strong in our own value system, but because we actually think it’s smart and strategic as well. These missions can help contain and resolve conflicts that otherwise would engulf nations and regions. They can help prevent fragile states from becoming failed states and sources of wider instability. And they can help struggling countries start on the road to becoming productive partners.


I look around this room and I see representatives from countries that have known war in the very recent past, who have been torn apart and still are by conflict. And they have reemerged and they have sustained themselves against great odds. And they are now nations contributing to solving their own and other problems.


So, Mr. President, I hope this discussion that you have brought to the forefront by chairing this here in the Security Council is not just another meeting, but that we will follow through and do everything we can to make one of the most important missions of the United Nations for peacemaking, peacekeeping, and peace-building more effective. The United States will do our part. But we all must do everything we can so that when those brave men and women wearing those blue, wonderful-looking – what are they called?




SECRETARY CLINTON: Helmets, those blue helmets. I was thinking of the soft one that I like.




SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, berets, that’s right. I was looking at Bernard. I knew it was a French term, of course. (Laughter.)


But when we see them, we are proud of them because we are supporting them, and not just sending them to do a mission that, from the very beginning, is impossible. Thank you, Mr. President.

PRN: 2010/1336