Tomorrow (21 September), the Security Council is expected to vote on a draft resolution on peacekeeping performance. Council members met once in person at expert level to discuss the draft, which was prepared by the US, and subsequent negotiations took place bilaterally. After two broken silence periods, on 18 September (by China and Russia) and on 19 September (by Russia), the draft was put in blue today.
It seems that the initial draft, shared by the US in the week before the 12 September debate on peacekeeping reform with a select group of Council members (both permanent and elected), focused primarily on the performance of uniformed personnel. Several members stated at that stage that the focus needed to be broadened to encompass civilian personnel and performance at other levels (including mandate design, mission planning, leadership, the roles of the Security Council and the UN Secretariat) in order to avoid singling-out troop- and police-contributing countries. The draft that was circulated to all 15 members incorporated significant changes in that regard.
At the 12 September debate, US Ambassador Nikki Haley outlined the three objectives of the draft resolution: mandating a timely and transparent process for reporting performance failures to the Council and to the member states concerned, creating accountability measures for failures of performance and concrete incentives for stronger performance, and recognising the role of data in improving troop performance.
During the debate, Russia emphasised that the Council should not bypass the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations (C-34) and said that a presidential statement could send a unified political message on peacekeeping reform. After reviewing the US draft resolution under silence, Russia circulated a draft presidential statement focused on improving peacekeeping performance. The draft deleted twenty paragraphs (and significantly modified several others) from the US draft resolution.
The US made changes to its draft resolution to accommodate the concerns raised by China and Russia, including some of those proposed in Russia’s draft presidential statement, and a new draft resolution was put under silence on 19 September. Russia broke silence again and proposed narrowing the scope of circumstances regarding the use of force to protect civilians. In the end, the draft underlines that where mandated, peacekeepers are authorised to use all necessary means, which includes the use of force when required, in order to protect civilians under threat of physical violence.
The draft in blue reaffirms the Council’s support for the development of a comprehensive and integrated performance policy framework that identifies clear standards of performance for evaluating all UN civilian and uniformed personnel working in and supporting peacekeeping operations. It requests the Secretary-General to ensure that decisions to recognise and incentivise outstanding performance and decisions regarding deployment, remediation, training, withholding of financial reimbursement, and repatriation of uniformed or dismissal of civilian personnel, be predicated on objective performance data. The draft further requests the Secretary-General to include in his mission-specific reports to the Council a summary of actions taken to improve mission performance and address performance challenges, including lapses in leadership, national caveats that negatively affect mandate implementation effectiveness, and demands of the operational environments, among other elements.
The draft requests the Secretary-General to act with urgency to initiate special investigations into alleged instances of significant performance failures and underlines the importance of improving the methodology of such investigations and the transparency of their findings. This is part of an ongoing trend by the Council to focus more attention on special investigations and specify what it expects from them, particularly after the investigation by Brigadier-General (ret) Fernand Marcel Amoussou into attacks against civilians that occurred in close proximity to contingents of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in the Central African Republic in 2017.
The draft welcomes the Secretary-General’s initiative of undertaking regular strategic reviews of peacekeeping missions. It further requests that he ensure that relevant findings of future reviews be shared with the Council, and with relevant member states, as appropriate, alongside the Secretary-General’s integrated analysis, strategic assessment and frank advice.
There is language on sexual exploitation and abuse and women’s participation in peacekeeping operations in the draft. Regarding sexual exploitation and abuse, the draft reaffirms the Council’s support for the UN zero-tolerance policy and urges all troop- and police-contributing countries to redouble their efforts to take the steps necessary to vet and train their personnel, conduct investigations of allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse by their personnel, and take appropriate steps to hold them accountable for such acts. It also requests the Secretary-General to present by March 2019 a revised strategy to double the numbers of women in military and police contingents of United Nations peacekeeping operations by 2020.
During the negotiation process, language was included to recognise and incentivise positive performance by peacekeepers. For example, the draft requests the Secretary-General to report to the Council on instances of outstanding performance in order to highlight best practices and promote their widespread adoption. The draft also encourages the Secretary-General to apply risk and enabling premiums to eligible troop and police contributing countries, and to advance public recognition of outstanding performance.
During the negotiations, some Council members resisted the inclusion of some language in the draft aimed at putting pressure on the Secretariat and troop- and police-contributing countries to increase accountability for underperformance. This included how to refer to special investigations carried out by the Secretariat on performance failures and the role of performance data in making decisions regarding the deployment of personnel.
Other longstanding issues related to peacekeeping also featured in the negotiations, raised by China and Russia in particular. These countries advocated the centrality of the C-34 in addressing peacekeeping issues and qualified language in the draft regarding the use of force by peacekeeping operations. Russia also challenged references to independent reports such as the one by the High Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations and the External Review on UN policing. In the end, the draft only recalls the report on “Improving Security of UN Peacekeepers”.
The vote takes place ahead of the 25 September meeting scheduled to be held in the margins of the high-level debate of the General Assembly in which member states are expected to express support for a Declaration of Shared Commitments prepared by the Secretariat in consultation with member states as part of the Action for Peacekeeping (A4P) initiative. The Secretary-General launched the A4P process in March with the aim of renewing political commitment to peacekeeping operations. By 19 September, 128 member states had endorsed the declaration. As raised in the 12 September debate, Russia did so with reservations to some of its provisions (S/2018/815).