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Under-Secretary-General Hails Missions’ Diversity, Flexibility

Acting without a vote, the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) approved today a draft resolution on the United Nations’ special political missions as it held its general debate on that topic, with several speakers calling for them to be accorded their own budget.

By the terms of the draft resolution “Comprehensive review of special political missions” (document A/C.4/77/L.8), the General Assembly would, among other things, request the Secretary-General to hold regular dialogue with Member States on policy matters pertaining to special political missions.  It would emphasize the Assembly’s role in discussing such policy matters and encourage the Security Council to continue to regularly request, deliberate and draw upon the advice of the Peacebuilding Commission.

In addition, the Assembly would encourage such missions to continue fostering partnerships with regional and subregional organizations.  It would also the Secretary-General to report to the Assembly, at its seventy-eighth session, on policy matters pertaining to such missions, including efforts to improve expertise and effectiveness, transparency, accountability, geographical representation, gender perspective and the equal participation of women.

Introducing that text, Finland’s representative, speaking also on behalf of fellow co-sponsor Mexico, said that it includes technical updates including a reference to General Assembly resolutions 76/6 on follow-up to Our Common Agenda, and 76/305 on peacebuilding financing, which bears direct significance to special political missions.

Briefing the Committee earlier in the meeting, Rosemary DiCarlo, Under‑Secretary‑General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, introducing the Secretary-General’s annual report titled “Overall policy matters pertaining to special political missions” (document A/77/283), emphasized the value of special political missions and their work in preventive diplomacy and mediation as a key part of the Organization’s diplomatic toolbox.  “Their diversity and flexibility have allowed us to design different types of responses to many of the peace and security challenges we face today,” she said.

Citing examples, she said the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia is working closely to that country’s 2016 peace agreement, while advocacy by the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) has led to agreement on a bigger place for Libyan women in electoral processes.  She also drew attention to collaboration between the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) and the Economic Commission of West African States (ECOWAS) as an illustration of strategic regional partnerships.

The Committee also heard from Atul Khare, Under‑Secretary‑General for Operational Support, who drew attention to the breadth and complexity of tasks undertaken by special political missions in challenging environments.  The Department of Operational Support is committed to supporting their efforts, he said, in line with the Secretary-General’s Data Strategy and the Strategy on New Technologies, which aims to harness innovation and data-driven technology.

Highlighting the Senior Women Talent Pipeline, which has helped bring in more women into leadership positions, he said the Department has also expanded the renewable energy global system contracts portfolio to provide new options for lighting, power‑generation and water treatment.  It is also finalizing a contract for hybrid vehicles, he said, noting a steady improvement in the environmental performance of special political missions over the last five years.

In the ensuing general debate, Morocco’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, whose countries host the majority of special political missions, acknowledged their vital role in advancing conflict prevention, mediation, good offices and peacebuilding.  At the same time, he stressed the importance of respecting the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of all States.

Indonesia’s delegate, speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), underlined the importance of national ownership as he called for better coordination between special political missions and host countries.  He also stressed the need for geographical diversity in maintaining the legitimacy of special political missions as conflict prevention tools.

Representatives from host countries also spoke today, with Libya’s delegate looking forward to UNSMIL playing a more effective role to support Libyan-led and Libyan-owned solutions.  Colombia’s representative acknowledged the support of the Verification Mission in her country as she reiterated her Government’s commitment to implementing its peace agreement with the former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia — People’s Army (FARC-EP).

Iraq’s representative commended the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) for reconstructing liberated areas and rehabilitating infrastructure to facilitate the safe return of displaced peoples.  UNAMI has also supported Iraq by providing technical and consultative support to develop government institutions, he said, calling on the Mission to give more jobs to Iraqi nationals.

Egypt’s delegate echoed the Secretary-General’s call to increase and diversify funding sources special political missions, which currently draw from the Organization’s regular budget.  While it is essential to support them, that must not divert development support from countries which do not host missions, he cautioned, suggesting the creation of a special, extra-budgetary account.

Also speaking today were representatives of Peru, Philippines, South Africa, El Salvador, Switzerland, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, Japan, Eritrea and Brazil.

The representative of the Russian Federation spoke in explanation of position after action.

The Fourth Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Monday, 7 November, to begin its consideration of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

Briefings

ROSEMARY DICARLO, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, introducing the Secretary-General’s report titled “Overall policy matters pertaining to special political missions” (document A/77/283) said that the world is at an inflection point and Member States must work together to navigate this uncertain moment.  Underscoring that multilateralism is not an option but a necessity, she said that the United Nations Charter’s diplomatic toolbox of the Charter — which includes preventive diplomacy and mediation — should be fully utilized.  Special political missions are a vital part of this toolbox, she said, adding that their work in preventive diplomacy, peacemaking and peacebuilding is vital for helping Member States prevent conflict and build sustainable peace.  “Their diversity and flexibility have allowed us to design different types of responses to many of the peace and security challenges we face today.”  Highlighting several examples, she noted that, in Yemen, through intense diplomatic efforts, the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General helped broker a nationwide truce that was in effect for six months, leading to a significant reduction in violence and civilian casualties.  Meanwhile, the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia is working closely with the parties to the 2016 Agreement to build confidence and consolidate an inclusive and lasting peace.

Turning to the women, peace and security agenda, she noted that special political missions are playing an essential role in translating that commitment into concrete outcomes.  High-level strategy meetings have been convened in Sudan, Syria and Yemen to help promote women’s participation in peace processes.  Highlighting the United Nations Support Mission in Libya’s (UNSMIL) advocacy for the inclusion of women in political processes and decision-making bodies in Libya, she noted that the House of Representatives and the High State Council agreed to endorse a 25 per cent quota for women to be applied to all future electoral processes.  Also underscoring the need for a regional approach to peace and security, she said that stronger United Nations partnerships with regional and subregional organizations is critical for conflict-prevention and peacemaking.  The three regional offices and two regional envoys have regional mandates and serve as forward platforms for preventive diplomacy in their regions.  They have helped institutionalize strategic partnership with regional and subregional organizations, she said.

Nowhere is this partnership more visible than in Africa, she added, noting the important milestone this year of the twentieth anniversary of the establishment of the African Union.  Further, the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), established in 2002, has developed a deeply connected partnership with the Economic Commission of West African States (ECOWAS) that has proved essential for peace and stability in the West Africa and the Sahel.  One example of the value of this partnership is their joint engagement in Burkina Faso, Guinea and Guinea-Bissau, where they advocated for the swift return to constitutional order in countries that experienced military coups and engaged with political actors and others to defuse tensions following contested electoral outcomes. Highlighting the Secretary-General’s report Our Common Agenda and its robust vision for conflict prevention, peacemaking and peacebuilding, she said that the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, which is leading the preparation of this document, will engage closely with Member States to seek their views in this process.

ATUL KHARE, Under-Secretary-General for Operational Support, said that the Secretary-General’s report provides a good overview of the breadth and complexity of tasks that the special political missions undertake.  In doing so, it is an opportunity to reflect on the important contributions these missions make every day, especially in today’s challenging environment of today.  Underscoring the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on special political missions, he said that 355 medical evacuations have taken place.  Moreover, when vaccines became available, the Department for Operational Support created and managed a systemwide vaccination programme that distributed more than 450,000 doses to 72 country teams, including all special political missions.  The Department also established novel tracking and reporting mechanism, redesigned patient intake, and responded to changing guidelines between countries, he said.

The Department continues to support special political missions in implementing the authority delegated to them by the Secretary-General, which is a cornerstone of management reform, he continued, adding that it has done so without requesting additional resources.  The Department has also championed the streamlining and simplification of various human resources processes.  Additionally, initiatives, such as the Senior Women Talent Pipeline, which primarily targets external candidates, have helped bring more women into leadership positions.  The Department has expanded the Organization’s renewable energy global system contracts portfolio to provide new options, including turnkey solutions for lighting, power‑generation and water treatment, and it is finalizing a system contract for hybrid vehicles. Annual environmental scorecards provide Member States an overview of each mission’s progress in the area of environmental management.  The Department is proud to note a steady improvement in environmental performance of the special political missions over the last five years, he said.

Statements

MAJD MOUTCHOU (Morocco), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, noted that the majority of countries hosting special political missions are members of that group.  She recognized the missions’ vital role in advancing conflict prevention, mediation, good offices and peacebuilding.  She noted that special political missions are a key tool for international action and assistance to host countries in overcoming conflict and supporting national efforts to build sustainable peace, emphasizing, however, the importance of respecting the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of all States.

As the mandates of special political missions grow more complex, the Security Council and the General Assembly must ensure the adoption of achievable mandates, based on objective assessments, with sufficient political basis and matched by appropriate resources.  She reiterated the need for greater coherence between mandates and resources, especially as the financial requirements for special political missions increase.  Finally, she welcomed the Secretary-General’s commitment to improving transparency, geographical balance and women’s representation throughout the Organization, including in field-based missions.

ARRMANATHA CHRISTIAWAN NASIR (Indonesia) speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said that special political missions assume many flexible forms with the goal of enabling sustainable peace efforts, as well as preventing conflicts and addressing their root causes.  Reform efforts should aim at enhancing accountability, coherence and effectiveness in delivering mandates.  He underlined the importance of national ownership in sustaining peace and reiterated ASEAN’s call for better coordination between special political missions and host countries.  Missions must support host countries in advancing its national identified priorities and nationally owned peacebuilding initiatives, he said, adding that cooperation with regional and subregional organizations should be encouraged.

More should be done to ensure greater representation of women and wider geographical representation in all missions, he continued.  Furthermore, geographical diversity is needed to maintain the legitimacy of special political missions as conflict prevention tools.  Missions must also be given adequate capacities and resources to fulfill their mandates.  Going forward, ASEAN will engage constructively with all stakeholders to further define the criteria, methods and mechanisms for more predictable, adequate and sustained financing.  All stakeholders must ensure the safety and security of mission staff and assets, he continued.  For ASEAN, sustainable peace and sustainable development are two sides of the same coin, with one side reinforcing the other, and they must therefore go hand in hand, with special political missions doing their part within their respective mandates, he said.

The representative of Finland, also speaking on behalf of Mexico, said special political missions are a very versatile and flexible tool that can be used in different phases of conflict.  To fulfil their important tasks, they must be provided with the required capacities and resources, including predictable and sustainable financing for peacebuilding.  He also noted that the Secretary-General’s report emphasizes the critical work of special political missions in promoting human rights and enhancing the inclusion of women, youth and other marginalized groups in political and peace processes.  He stressed the significance of an inclusive approach to conflict prevention, peacebuilding and sustaining peace, adding that women’s full, equal and meaningful participation in peace processes, and the mainstreaming of gender in conflict prevention, must be ensured.

He then introduced the draft resolution titled “Comprehensive review of special political missions” (document A/C.4/77/L.8), explaining that, after two years of technical roll-overs, and during substantive negotiations, delegations agreed to strengthen the text on several points.  It includes stronger references to the full, equal and meaningful participation of women in peace processes, encouraging missions to foster partnerships with regional and sub-regional organizations, and acknowledging and identifying climate-related risks.  Those points were reflected in the Secretary-General’s report, he noted.  The draft resolution also reflects General Assembly resolution 76/6 on follow-up to the Secretary-General’s report Our Common Agenda and the relevance of the new Agenda for Peace on special political missions.  In addition, the text features a reference to Assembly resolution 76/305 on peacebuilding financing, he said.

JAMES GUIDO THORNBERRY SCHIANTARELLI (Peru) underscored the need for cooperation among States, regional and subregional organizations and civil society through the work undertaken by special political missions and their contribution to peacebuilding, with a broad focus that takes the needs of all stakeholders into account.  Mandates must guarantee respect for the sovereignty, territoriality and political independence of all States, with a gender perspective that takes women’s participation and the role of young people into account.  Moreover, special political missions must support local authorities and populations, and aim to reduce strategic risks while also identifying new threats to peace and security, he said.

ANTONIO MANUEL REVILLA LAGDAMEO (Philippines) said that it is clear that special political missions continue to serve as forward platforms for conflict prevention, consistent with United Nations’ obligation to save future generations from the scourge of war.  He suggested that the Organization consider greater collaboration in terms of exchange of best practices through the Plan of Action to Implement the Joint Declaration on Comprehensive Partnership between ASEAN and the United Nations 2021-2025.  He also proposed stronger partnerships with regional and subregional organizations and the appointment of more women as Special Representatives and Special Envoys of the Secretary-General.  He went on to say that the Philippines supports the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions on ways to improve funding and backstopping arrangements for special political missions, including the establishment of a special account that would enhance their capacity to deliver on their mandates.

LEONOR ZALABATA TORRES (Colombia) called for bold and comprehensive responses which protect civilians in armed conflict and address the impacts of humanitarian, social, migratory, political food and energy crises.  Special political missions are a tangible example of what is possible when accounting for realities on the ground, national ownership and the strengthening of democratic institutions, she said, spotlighting her country’s work with the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia.  The Government is committing to implementing the Final Agreement for Ending the Conflict and Building a Stable and Lasting Peace between the Government of Colombia and the former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia–People’s Army (FARC-EP), reducing inequalities, developing a Government with and for women, ensuring zero tolerance for corruption and facilitating regional dialogues for local authorities and communities.  These are central components of the mandates of special political missions, she said, also highlighting the lessons Colombia has learned as a member of the Peacebuilding Commission.

YAARB AHMED NASER AL-TEMEMY (Iraq) commended the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and the Organization for reconstructing liberated areas and rehabilitating infrastructure to facilitate the safe return of displaced persons.  Member States must implement relevant Security Council resolutions and provide technical support to dry up the financial resources of terrorist groups, limit the movement of freedom fighters and uproot radicalization.  Welcoming the efforts of investigators on crimes committed by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh), he stressed the importance of transparency and cooperation with Iraq’s judiciary system.  For its part, UNAMI has supported Iraq in the rehabilitation of good governance by providing technical and consultative support to develop Government institutions and deliver on Goal 16 of the Sustainable Development Goals.  Going forward, UNAMI and the United Nations as a whole should increase the number of national and local staff in Iraq, thus enhancing cooperation with national authorities, he said.

OSAMA MAHMOUD ABDELKHALEK MAHMOUD (Egypt), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, recalled Assembly resolution 76/305 which emphasized the importance of sufficient funding for special political missions.  Further, the Secretary-General also called for increasing and diversifying the funding sources of special political missions, he said, also stressing the importance of deepening partnerships between those missions and regional and subregional organizations.  While it is essential to support special political missions, that must not divert development support from countries that do not host those missions.  While the Security Council establishes most special political missions, they are funded by the regular budget period, he noted.  Calling on the Organization to correct this imbalance, he said that such missions must funded through a special extra‑budgetary account.

The representative of South Africa noted that special political missions put mediation at the forefront of their operations, thereby enabling the United Nations to play a more effective role across the conflict prevention continuum.  Acknowledging their role in advancing the women, peace and security agenda, she said it is essential to incorporate a gender perspective into peacebuilding work.  She called on the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs to support women’s meaningful participation in peacemaking contexts globally, stating that that is a key prerequisite for developing an inclusive democracy.  Highlighting the need to include youth in political processes, she expressed concern that a significant portion of the population has little or no voice or influence in decisions that affect them.  She went on to commend UNOWAS for its efforts in preventive diplomacy and for working tirelessly to advance the rule of law and human rights.

EGRISELDA ARACELY GONZÁLEZ LÓPEZ (El Salvador) said that the mandates of special political missions must take realities on the ground into account.  Their objectives must be viable and feasible, and they must be allocated sufficient resources.  Transitions, which often occur in complex situations, require careful planning and adequate resources.  She added that the composition of special political missions should be expanded in terms of geographical representation, thus contributing to the Organization’s legitimacy.  Women’s representation must also be expanded, she said, noting that, as of July, women made up 36.5 per cent of international staff and only 19.2 per cent of locally recruited staff in special political missions in the field.

MARWAN A. T. ABUSREWEL (Libya) said that special political missions are one of the main elements in the United Nations’ toolbox in terms of preventive diplomacy, mediation and good offices to prevent conflicts.  They play an important and pivotal role in creating compromise between all parties, together with building confidence towards constructive cooperation.  He recognized UNSMIL’s role as a facilitator in Libya and its attempts to resolve the country’s political crisis during its transition period.  He welcomed the appointment of the new Special Envoy of the Secretary-General looked forward to the Mission playing a more effective role to support Libyan-led and Libyan-owned solutions to achieve national stability.

ADRIAN DOMINIK HAURI (Switzerland) said that special political missions play an important early warning role, including by promoting human rights as an integral part of sustainable peace.  Lasting peace can only be achieved if the broadest spectrum of stakeholders is involved, including non-State actors, civil society and regional and subregional organizations.  The contributions made by special political missions to prevent or address protection gaps in transition contexts, and to ensure that peacebuilding priorities are supported through early and comprehensive planning, deserve to be recognized.  Emphasizing the indispensable need for predictable and adequate funding, and the critical role of the Peacebuilding Fund, he noted that the General Assembly’s High-Level Meeting on Peacebuilding Financing, held in April, put a spotlight on the funding gap in peacebuilding and the need to increase financial contributions.

MUHAMMAD ABDUL MUHITH (Bangladesh), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, urged Myanmar to extend its full support for the Special Envoy of Secretary-General on Myanmar, who for her part must reinvigorate her efforts with that country to ensure the safe, dignified and sustainable repatriation of Rohingya sheltered in Bangladesh.  He called for better coordination among special political missions, peacekeeping operations, United Nations country teams and regional, subregional and local organizations, and also highlighted the critical role of the Peacebuilding Commission.  Special political missions must also focus on gender-responsive support and inclusivity in its work, in line with Security Council resolutions 2493 (2019) and 2535 (2020).  To that end, the Secretary-General should account for balanced geographical representation in his appointments.  On funding, he expressed his support for the proposed allocation of $161.9 million and reiterated the call for the creation of a special account.

The representative of Saudi Arabia said that, together with regional organizations, special political missions have strengthened prevention and conflict management strategies.  He reiterated his country’s support for the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Yemen and its commitment to a political solution to the conflict in that country.  The Houthis have yet to respond to the Secretary-General’s call for a ceasefire and have instead continued their attacks, he said, emphasizing Saudi Arabia’s right to defend its territory, cities and residents.  Any political solution in Yemen must be grounded in the initiatives of the Gulf Cooperation Council and its implementation mechanisms, the results of national dialogue in Yemen and relevant Security Council resolutions.  He went on to suggest that expert groups evaluate special political missions, identify insufficiencies and develop strategies to tackle the various challenges, which prevent them from delivering on their mandates.

YURIE WASHINO (Japan) said special political missions, operating from Asia to South America to Africa, are characterized by their diversity and size.  They require tailored mandates based on the different contexts they face.  The Security Council should ensure that missions are equipped with focused, prioritized and achievable mandates.  Consolidated political support from the Council is a prerequisite for missions to effectively discharge their responsibilities.  While each mission is unique, there are some common elements that should be prioritized, including ensuring women’s participation in peace processes.  She particularly welcomed efforts by UNAMI and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) to ensure women’s participation in recent electoral processes.

ELSA HAILE (Eritrea) said the General Assembly has a critical role to play in developing policy on special political missions in an increasingly fragile and unjust world.  The international peace and security environment is complex, with major political Powers seeking to gain advantage over each other.  “Despite our deep divisions, our destinies are entwined, and we share a common hope.”  The new Agenda for Peace should aim at turning the United Nations into a truly representative institution in which all countries contribute to international peace and security.  Special political missions can do their part if they are deployed with clear mandates, host countries’ support and a clear exit strategy, she said.

CÍCERO TOBIAS DE OLIVEIRA FREITAS (Brazil), noting the increasing number of special political missions and a decrease in new peacekeeping operations, said it is easier to obtain approval for the former at the Security Council as they are smaller and more readily consented to by the host country.  Further, their mandates normally provide a greater level of national ownership and go beyond security issues to address the root causes of conflict.  While the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia, where the peace process has the commitment of most political forces, has the “fortunate task of consolidating what is so far a success story”, the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH) is seeking to build on the work of two previous peacekeeping operations under very difficult circumstances.  Noting that special political missions are mandated by the Council but funded by the regular budget, he said that that state of affairs creates an imbalance of decision-making by a few at the Council that leave many to bear the cost.

Action

The Committee, acting without a vote, then approved the draft resolution entitled “Comprehensive review of special political missions” (document A/C.4/77/L.8).

The representative of the Russian Federation, in explanation of vote after the vote, said her delegation joined consensus on the draft resolution.  However, despite the predominantly technical nature of the updates to this year’s text, co-sponsors added provisions pertaining to the new Agenda for Peace.  That concept is still under development, she said, adding that the Secretariat has yet to analyse and compile views submitted by Member States.  Only through broad comprehensive consultations and intergovernmental consideration can the Secretary-General’s proposals contribute substantially to advancing a new Agenda for Peace, she said.

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