I wish to thank Prime Minister Rutte for organizing this important debate on peacekeeping. I would also like to thank the Secretary-General for his briefing.
I am honored to be here today, just days after assuming my new office.
Collective action is crucial for United Nations Peacekeeping – as it is in any other policy area. Be it climate change, migration or economic development; be it human rights, global health or sustaining peace and security: we need more collective action. We need robust multilateral institutions. And, at the heart of our rules-based order, we need a strong United Nations. Where better than here to underline that we need a Security Council that is united in both its purpose and responsibility.
The peacekeeper’s blue helmet stands for help and protection. It symbolizes peace and security. For the international community, it is a call to joint action and shared responsibility.
The more than 100,000 peacekeepers helping countries to navigate the difficult path from conflict to peace deserve our respect, deep gratitude and support.
The return of violent conflict has caused immense human suffering at great social and economic cost. To name just one glaring example: Syria, where all too often this Council has been unable to take decisions, or where its decisions have not been implemented.
The answer to drawn-out crisis situations can only be a more coherent approach to sustaining peace. The Secretary-General has laid this out in his reform proposals – and he has Germany’s full support.
Germany is a strong financial and political supporter of United Nations peacekeeping. We are helping to strengthen peacekeepers’ safety and security, to make policing a core area of peace operations, and to increase women’s role in peacekeeping.
In order to support the United Nations in crisis prevention and follow the Secretary-General’s call for a quantum leap in peacebuilding funding, Germany has tripled its contributions to these areas.
Our largest United Nations deployment is in Mali. Our Parliament agreed to provide up to 1,000 peacekeepers and high-end capabilities, such as reconnaissance, helicopters and drones. This combined effort will hopefully help secure lasting peace and stability in the country itself and in the Sahel region. German support in Mali, South Sudan, and Lebanon, to name just a few countries, is always embedded in a comprehensive political strategy – both nationally and within the EU.
As laid out in our recently adopted coalition agreement, Germany will continue to build on this engagement in the coming years, as a candidate for – and hopefully a member of – the Security Council in 2019/2020.
In conclusion, allow me to make three points:
First, we need stronger and more effective partnerships between the United Nations and organizations such as the African Union, the European Union and the OSCE.
Second, peacekeeping is not an end in itself. It is a tool to support political solutions. We need a coherent political strategy, clear-sighted objectives and realistic expectations from the start.
Third, peacekeeping will only be as effective as we are willing to make it. Missions must have the means they need to fulfill their mandates.
One more thing must be said: At times, peacekeepers have let down the very people they had sworn to protect, including through sexual abuse and exploitation. This is unacceptable. There must be accountability.
In order to further improve peacekeeping, we have taken careful note of the Secretary-General's proposals.
Our words must now lead to action. We owe this to the people we are entrusted with protecting.