Remarks by Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei at the Opening Ceremony of the International Symposium on UN Peacekeeping Operations
Beijing, 19 November 2009
Deputy Chief of General Staff Ma Xiaotian,
Under Secretary Alain Le Roy,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to attend the opening ceremony of the International Symposium on UN Peacekeeping Operations. On behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China, I wish to extend a warm welcome to all delegates. This Symposium provides a good opportunity for in-depth discussions on meeting various challenges facing UN peacekeeping operations under the new circumstances and fulfilling the mandates given by the UN Security Council. I have confidence this Symposium will be crowned with success.
The international situation is undergoing complex and profound changes. With multilateralism and win-win cooperation gaining increasing public support, international expectations for the role of the UN and its peacekeeping operations are on the rise. Peacekeeping operations are one of the most important and effective instruments at UN's disposal in maintaining world peace and security. After 60 years of evolution, the blue helmet has become a beacon of hope for people in many parts of the world and contributed significantly to conflict prevention, ceasefire monitoring, civilian rescue and relief and post-conflict reconstruction, winning accolade from the international community. In the meantime, the fast-changing situation has raised higher requirements for peacekeeping operations in addition to the new challenges facing them. All countries need to reflect on these issues and jointly work out ways to grasp opportunities, rise to challenges and make UN peacekeeping operations more effective, so that they can live up to the expectations of the international community. I hope this will become one of the outcomes of this Symposium.
The UN peacekeeping operations have entered into a new phase in terms of their scale, mandates, resource demand and management difficulties. On the one hand, the demand for peacekeeping operations is growing, mandates are expanding and costs are rising. On the other hand, limited resources, inadequate capacity and outdated management practices have added to the difficulties of peacekeeping operations. As a result, they are falling increasingly short of international expectations. There is an urgent need to improve UN peacekeeping operations by reviewing past experience, retaining effective practices and experimenting with new ones while addressing current deficiencies.
We have noticed that since early this year, the Security Council, the UN Secretariat, major peacekeeping troop contributors and various other parties have all shown great interest in peacekeeping reform. The UN Secretariat's report, A New Partnership Agenda: Charting a New Horizon for UN Peacekeeping, has proposed many good ideas and recommendations on peacekeeping reform, laying a good basis for follow-on discussions. China suggests that the next stage of discussions be focused on the following three issues:
First, theory. We need to approach peacekeeping from a comprehensive perspective and strategic height. While discussing emerging theories such as the mandate to protect civilians and robust peacekeeping, we need to attach equal importance to the development and innovation of traditional theories such as conflict prevention, dispute mediation, crisis management and post-conflict peace-building. There is a need to provide peacekeeping missions with systematic and comprehensive theoretical guidance attuned to the reality and development of the times.
Second, capacity. It is crucial to build up the capacity of peacekeeping operations, including "hardware" capabilities such as the competence of peacekeepers, deployment speed, equipment standard, flexible response and logistic support, as well as "software" competence such as planning and design, command and management, and coordinated actions.
Third, partnership. Peacekeeping operations are systematic programs involving political, economic, military, financial and administrative aspects. To succeed, they depend on the support and cooperation of troop and financial contributors as well as regional organizations. A strong partnership of coordination and cooperation should be put in place for the purpose of pooling resources and bringing forth the strengths of all parties concerned.
China also believes that balanced progress should be made in the following five priority areas:
Firstly, highlight strategic design. Decisions on the necessity and timing of deployment should be made prudently by taking all factors into consideration, including actual capacity. Mandates should not be issued in the absence of informed discussions.
Secondly, enhance overarching planning. We need to increase input in preventive diplomacy and early warning of crisis, approach peacekeeping operations, peace-building and exit strategy in a holistic way, and integrate conflict prevention and resolution.
Thirdly, improve management support. Concrete efforts should be made to improve the management standard of peacekeeping operations, rationalize and optimize resource allocation, establish a smooth and effective command structure, and enhance logistic support to peacekeeping operations.
Fourthly, focus on capacity building. Both training and standby arrangements should be strengthened to substantially enhance the capacity to deploy and respond to changing circumstances.
Fifthly, expand external cooperation. We need to strengthen coordination and cooperation with regional organizations, fully mobilize them in conflict prevention and crisis management, and share resources. Priority should be given to improving the peacekeeping capacity of the African Union.
China, a permanent member of the UN Security Council, is a major troop and financial contributor to UN peacekeeping operations. China is a staunch supporter of UN peacekeeping operations and is scaling up participation in them. In the space of 20 years, China has sent upwards of 14,000 military, police and civilian officers to 24 UN peacekeeping missions and undertaken a large share of peacekeeping costs. As I speak, more than 2,100 Chinese police officers, soldiers and civilians are on active duty in ten peacekeeping mission areas, including Darfur, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Coté d'Ivoire, Lebanon and Haiti. China is willing to actively consider further expanding its participation in UN peacekeeping operations consistent with its actual capacity.
China hopes to work with all sides to analyze the new situation and features of UN peacekeeping operations, have in-depth exchange of views on peacekeeping reform, make peacekeeping operations more standardized and effective, and make even greater contribution to world peace and stability.
Thank you, and I wish the Symposium a great success.