UNITED NATIONS, Jul. 10, CMC – The United Nations says issues including the strengthening of peacekeeping in Haiti were discussed by heads of the armed forces of around 100 countries when they met at the UN headquarters in New York . “Our partnership has never been more important. Across the globe, armed conflict scars countless civilians and destabilizes entire regions,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres told participants at the Chiefs of Defense Conference, via a video message, on Friday. Expressing gratitude to the men and women serving in peacekeeping, Guterres noted that UN “blue helmets” brave danger so others can enjoy safety. He also welcomed the Conference’s focus on gender, with a view to increasing the number of female peacekeepers, and integrating a gender perspective into UN peace and security actions. “When we have greater gender balance in our forces, we boost our protection outreach – and we reduce the chances of sexual exploitation and abuse,” he highlighted, urging all troop-contributing countries to deploy more women as well as to help integrate a gender-sensitive perspective in strengthening peace. In the same vein, Jane Holl Lute, the Special Coordinator on improving UN response to sexual exploitation and abuse, also underscored the need to stand together against the individual misconduct of some troops, which she said “seriously injures the vulnerable and undermines the mission and name of the United Nations.” “Only through the continued personal leadership of the chiefs of defense forces, and others, will we effectively prevent and respond to sexual exploitation and abuse,” she said, adding: “We are in this endeavor together, and together, we can root out this scourge.” In his opening remarks, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, the UN said Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, highlighted that recent developments – whether geostrategic shifts, emergence of new threats or large budget cuts – call for greater urgency to strengthen the performance of peace operations. “Now, more than ever before, peacekeepers need to be up to the challenge of the mandates they are given,” he said, calling for continued support for peacekeeping operations. Stressing the need to eliminate sexual exploitation and abuse, he called for putting in place measures to ensure that only troops with impeccable backgrounds are deployed, and that rigorous and consistent measures are employed to make certain that those responsible are held accountable for their acts. “The success of our missions depends upon the confidence and trust placed on us by the populations we serve. When this trust is broken, our credibility is indelibly damaged,” he underscored. Atul Khare, Under-Secretary-General of the Department of Field Support – which provides administrative, finance, logistical and technical support to peacekeeping and political missions around the world – spoke of efforts underway to improve service delivery and to produce better value for money. In particular, he noted a new environmental strategy to guide UN efforts to deliver support in a responsible manner as well as steps to improve medical support to peacekeepers to prevent the avoidable loss of lives. “But we need to do more together,” he added. “We simply cannot accept that 30 of the 287 military medical facilities in peacekeeping missions either have not deployed or are deployed with sub-standard equipment.” In particular, Khare underscored the need for more female participation in peacekeeping, urging the chiefs of defense to redouble their efforts to contribute female personnel to serve in missions. He also called on them to ensure that uniformed contingents deploy rapidly and with the equipment and training required to carry out the tasks that they have been mandated. In late June, after a “successful” visit to Haiti, Security Council noted the window of opportunity for reforms in the French-speaking Caribbean country. Recounting the Council’s recent visit to Haiti, Ambassador Sacha Sergio Llorentty Soliz of Bolivia, which holds the presidency for the month of June, pointed to opportunities to cement positive change in the country. “Haiti is at political crossroads . The window of opportunity is open to promote the reforms the country needs to respond to challenges,” he said. These include strengthening the rule of law, reforming the security sector, providing basic services, and creating jobs. The UN said Llorentty led the Security Council mission to Haiti from June 22-24 to get a first-hand look at how the UN could best contribute to stability and development in the country. “The mission of the Security Council to Haiti was successful because of the large amount of information we obtained in face-to-face meetings, and the better understanding of concerns and expectations that Haitians have about the drawdown of MINUSTAH and the transition to the new mission,” Llorentty said, using the acronym for the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti. In April, the Council extended MINUSTAH’S mandate for a final six months, deciding to transition it into a smaller follow-up mission, known as the UN Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH), which would assist the Haitian Government to strengthen rule-of-law institutions, its security sector and human rights monitoring. “The information gathered will be useful when defining the nature of implementation of the new mission,” Llorentty said.
- Countries: Haiti