I would like to thank the Dutch presidency of the Security Council for organizing this important debate. I also thank the UN Secretary-General, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission and the Director of the NGO GREFFA for useful briefings.
Latvia aligns itself with the statement delivered on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.
Peacekeeping is one of the key instruments available to the United Nations in discharging its responsibility to maintain international peace and security. Yet, achieving lasting peace in many places has been a tremendous challenge. Peacekeeping environments have become more complex and risky than ever, and, regrettably, attacks on peacekeeping missions and peacekeepers have risen in recent years. Latvia pays tribute to all the men and women who have served and continue to serve in UN peacekeeping operations for their courage and dedication, and we honour those who have lost their lives in serving the cause of peace. Much more needs to be done to bring the perpetrators for such attacks to justice.
In the past few years since the major Peace and Security reviews, much has been done to improve our approach to UN peacekeeping. Latvia fully supports efforts to make UN peacekeeping more responsive to the challenges of the 21st century.
Yet, our work and commitment to make UN peacekeeping operations more adaptable and relevant to the current complex challenges must continue. It is especially important to bridge the gaps in UN capabilities when it comes to rapid deployment of peacekeeping missions. In this regard, Latvia particularly welcomes the work on improving cooperation with the relevant regional actors, such as the African Union and the European Union.
The ultimate goal of the UN peacekeeping reform must be peacekeeping missions with realistic mandates that meet the practical necessities of the host nation or area of deployment. Better planning, equipment and training is essential to effective mandate delivery, protection of civilians and security of UN personnel.
Improving security of UN peacekeepers, as detailed in former UN Force Commander General Santos Cruz report, is our shared responsibility. We all need to invest in changes to improve leadership, operational behaviour, use of force, defensive posture, selection of peacekeepers and pre-deployment training, as well as equipment.
Often the root of the problem lies in the lack of situational awareness and localized intelligence analysis especially when missions are exposed to asymmetric threats. We fully support the UN efforts to better integrate modern technologies and intelligence capabilities into UN peacekeeping. Latvia has contributed intelligence specialists to MINUSMA in Mali since early 2016. Moreover, in recognition of the mission’s critical need for intelligence and information analysis capacities, Latvia increased its contribution to MINUSMA last year.
We also recognize the inherent value of the involvement of women in peacekeeping. Latvia fully supports the ongoing work to align the UN peacekeeping reform with the provisions of Women, Peace and Security concept. We also commend the efforts of the UN Secretary-General to eradicate sexual exploitation and abuse in the UN system.
The pursuit of political settlements should be the overall aim. However, to achieve lasting peace, the UN peacekeeping must be part of a larger approach of UN conflict prevention efforts. We must strive to use all UN instruments to ensure that all people can live in a more peaceful, prosperous and secure world.