Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization)

Note: Owing to the liquidity crisis impacting our Organization, only a partial summary of statements made in today’s meeting of the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) is available at this time. The complete summary will be issued later as Press Release GA/SPD/709.

Opening Statements

ROSEMARY A. DICARLO, Under Secretary General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, reported that efforts led by the Secretary-General and his Special Envoy resulted in a September agreement on a credible, balanced, inclusive, Syrian-owned and Syrian-led Constitutional Committee. Moreover, the Special Envoy for Yemen continues to provide support in terms of the Stockholm Agreement’s implementation. Despite ongoing challenges, the United Nations Mission to Support the Hudaydah Agreement has made encouraging progress with the Yemeni parties, she said, adding that it has had a positive deterrent effect. The Secretary-General’s Special Envoy in Myanmar has been working closely with the national authorities to help resolve the Rohingya crisis, and, in February, the Secretary-General tasked his Special Representative with leading an inter-agency mission to Burkina Faso, she said. Its aim is to assess the repositioning and reorganization of the United Nations presence in that country, she added, noting that her Department will establish five offices in Burkina Faso.

Turning to regional partnerships, she said the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel works closely with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union to advance preventive diplomacy and support political processes. Moreover, the United Nations Integrated Peace-building Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS) and the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) work closely with other regional stakeholders to ease political tensions and advance the electoral process there. In East Africa, the Department is strengthening cooperation with the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in order to advance the prevention of conflict in the region, including in Sudan and South Sudan, she reported. Also, the United Nations Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia (UNRCCA) continues to reinforce regional capacities in preventive diplomacy, she reported, noting that the Centre revitalized its efforts to facilitate regional cooperation on transboundary water management, in close collaboration with the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea.

Noting that special political missions champion and support the effective implementation of the women, peace and security agenda, she recalled that, in June, she issued a new policy to ensure systematic integration of gender-sensitive analysis into the Department’s work. Special political missions are increasingly integrating gender perspectives into the implementation of their mandates, she said, citing the deployment of consultative women’s advisory boards to the Special Envoys in Syria, Yemen and Iraq. Such entities have demonstrated the importance of ensuring that women’s voices, concerns and needs are consistently heard and integrated into peace processes, she added. As such, UNIOGBIS provided technical support for advocacy efforts that led Guinea-Bissau to adopt, in August, a parity law on the participation of women in politics and decision-making. She went on to report that the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) partnered with the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) to hold a series of dialogues reflecting on opportunities and challenges for women’s participation in peace processes. She reiterated the importance of ensuring adequate, predictable and sustainable financing in that regard.

Reporting that the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund has exceeded the Secretary-General’s 15 per cent target for gender-responsive peacebuilding since 2015, she said 40 per cent of the Fund’s budget was allocated to gender equality and women’s empowerment. Returning to special political missions, she said they have been actively engaging young people in different aspects of their work, including by building youth capacities and supporting their participation in peace processes. In Central Asia, UNRCCA launched the Preventive Diplomacy Academy, an initiative aimed at increasing cooperation and trust between communities in border areas. The initiative hopes to foster a culture of mutual understanding while mitigating conflict risks, she said, adding that UNRCCA is organizing a series of workshops and outreach activities bringing together young people aged 18 to 29. A network of youth focal points was established across the regional and subregional offices of the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia to integrate youth perspectives into verification and liaison activities. On staff safety, she reported that the Department worked closely with the Department of Safety and Security on risk-management strategies and measures to mitigate insecurity. We cannot compromise the lives of our staff, she emphasized.

ATUL KHARE, Under Secretary General for Operational Support, reported that the Department of Operational Support is working to strengthen special political missions by simplifying policy frameworks, decentralizing decision-making authority to the point of delivery and enhancing transparency and accountability. Citing examples of the benefits arising from the Department’s creation, he said its new Division for Special Activities has been providing cross-cutting operational support solutions that are effective, efficient and responsible. Also, the creation of the Office of Supply Chain Management � newly integrating procurement and logistics management � has enabled a wide-ranging effort to improve sourcing, as one part of a holistic and inter-connected approach to supply chain management, he said.

Regarding consolidated health-care management and occupational safety and health in the Department, he said progress has been made towards delivery of swift and robust health-support plans in Yemen, Burkina Faso and Haiti, for example. On decentralizing authority, he said the Department’s Capacity Development and Operational Training Service is delivering an executive governance and resource stewardship programme to senior leadership teams. He went on to describe how those efforts translate into operations on the ground, saying the Department has been able to respond promptly to mission needs and to provide all necessary equipment and support, including by supporting the start-up of the new United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH).

During the recent tragic attack on United Nations staff in Benghazi, he continued, the Department’s new Division of Special Activities was at the forefront in helping the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) with administrative and human resources aspects of the response much faster than was previously the case during such unfortunate events. Also citing additional examples of the Department’s efforts in other countries, he said it continues its cooperation with regional organizations, including the African Union, European Union and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in the area of peace and security. The Technical Agreement is an example of a multi-partner engagement through which the Joint Force of the G-5 Sahel receives support from the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) as well as the European Union, he noted.

Interactive Dialogue

The representative of Sudan asked how the new departmental structure will support special political missions, and for an evaluation of cooperation between United Nations entities, particularly in the fields of preventive diplomacy, conflict resolution and conflict prevention. Pointing out that Silencing the Guns by 2020 will be the theme of the African Union’s 2020 Summit, he asked whether United Nations departments will provide any support towards that effort.

Ms. DICARLO said collaboration is occurring among several United Nations departments and country teams on the ground. Noting that conflicts and crises spread regionally, she said regional strategies are now the focus, and an approach that proved helpful in the Great Lakes region, the Horn of Africa and the Sahel. She said her Department’s tasks include providing peacebuilding support, noting that it has established structures for communications and coordination, in Burkina Faso, for example. The Department also provides support in non-mission settings and has a stand-by team of mediators, staff and consultants that can be deployed throughout the world. Moreover, the common country analysis upon which local activities are based now has a dedicated team, she observed. On Silencing the Guns by 2020, she said the Department has built a framework of cooperation with the African Union and will work closely to achieve that historic initiative.

Mr. KHARE also cited the example of Burkina Faso, recalling the joint planning in cooperation with the Department of Peacebuilding and Political Affairs, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and others to meet logistical requirements on the ground. Moreover, United Nations departments also share services and contracts, he said, adding that once a contract has undergone rigorous review by the Secretariat, agencies can use it without losing time to create a new contract to service any needs arising. He went on to state that the Department would never have been able to provide all the equipment required in Hudaydah before the reform effort, pointing out that it was transported on two Boeing 747 aircraft that landed in Sana’a. That could be accomplished because of the reform, he said, recalling that the structure was put in place within 10 days of the Security Council granting the mandate. Citing the Maslow hierarchy of needs, he said mediators and others should not be concerned about basic needs and should focus on their work. That can now be accomplished better owing to reform efforts, he observed.

The representative of Iraq, noting that disarmament, demobilization and reintegration fall under peacekeeping, asked about any ongoing security-sector reform efforts in relation to the reintegration component.

Ms. DICARLO clarified that the United Nations Office of Rule of Law and Security Institutions undertakes such initiatives, adding that the reintegration pillar is often the most complicated. As such, that Office is trying to find new and innovative ways to deal with reintegration, she said.

General Debate

YASSER HALFAOUI (Morocco), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, reaffirmed that grouping’s commitment to support all efforts enhancing the effectiveness of special political missions, emphasizing the importance of ensuring respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of all States. It is vital that the Security Council and the General Assembly draft clear and achievable mandates for field-based missions, based on objective assessment and with greater coherence between mandates and resources, he emphasized. Citing the exponential increase in the financial requirements and complexity of missions over the past decade, he noted that they do not follow the regular United Nations budget cycle despite the fact that it funds them, he pointed out. He went on to call upon the Secretary-General to consider geographic and female representation when making appointments to senior leadership positions, particularly special representatives and envoys, as well as expert groups working on sanctions. It is especially important that missions only implement ideas and approaches collectively adopted by Member States, he stressed.

PANGERAN IBRANI SITUMORANG (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, emphasized that close coordination with the host country is essential to ensuring sustainable peace. United Nations partnerships with regional organizations are also critical, as is the participation of women in all stages of peace processes, she said, also stressing the necessity of broad geographic representation in all special political missions. Special political missions should have the necessary equipment and be financed under the same criteria, methodology and mechanisms used to fund United Nations peace operations, including the creation of a separate account for annual funding, he noted. ASEAN encourages the Secretariat to continue to hold regular interactive dialogues on overall policy matters pertaining to special political missions as it reaches out to Member States, he said. Speaking in his national capacity, he went on to emphasize the critical need to support national ownership and build capacity as peace operations transform into political missions. He also reiterated the importance of expanded participation by women and young people throughout the peace continuum and of greater South-South and triangular cooperation.

JUAN RAMA�N DE LA FUENTE RAMLREZ (Mexico), speaking also on behalf of Finland, noted that special political missions have become more relevant in light of the evolving nature of conflicts, which calls for creativity, flexibility and efficiency. Citing resolution A/73/101 (2018) on special political missions, he noted that the text reflects the importance of participation by women and young people in the prevention and resolution of conflict. Emphasizing that the international community must continue to grant mandates that ensure coherence and accompany countries in designing and implementing public policies, he said the mandates must support such States through all stages of conflict as well as before, during and after a mission transitions. In that context, more data is needed on how such ongoing deliberations relate to the substance of the resolution, he said, pointing out that the 2019 text contains only technical updates.

ADEL ELCONSUL (Libya) said the work of special political missions must not violate the sovereignty of Member States and the independent political choice of host countries must be respected. Inclusive discussions about mandates must be held directly with the host country as opposed to dealing with parallel actors, he emphasized. Special political missions must begin their work inside the country rather than formulating plans on social media. Moreover, language, culture, objectivity and experience must be considered when employing staff, he said, adding that missions should be staffed by local administrative and technical staff from the communities they serve. While welcoming the extension of UNSMIL’s mandate, he stressed that the Mission has failed to deal with the political and security situation in Libya, often treating aggressor and victim on the same footing and thereby inviting further targeting and attacks by the aggressor. In closing, he called for increased financial support to enable UNSMIL to implement its mandate.

MARTA�N GARCA�A MORITA�N (Argentina) said his delegation is encouraged by the continued practice of issuing annual reports on special political missions in order to increase transparency and accountability. Expressing support for the establishment of a separate account to fund special political missions, he deplored the eight-year stalemate in those discussions in the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) and encouraged all delegations to return to the negotiations. Turning to the new special political mission in Haiti, he said it is necessary to strengthen the progress made, encouraging BINUH to make solid commitments to supporting that country’s Government. An effective United Nations presence must consider the multidimensional aspects of the situation in Haiti, including its vulnerability to climate-related disasters, he stressed.

ANDRES RUGELES (Colombia) said that his country’s Government is committed to implementing the final agreement reached with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia�People’s Army (FARC). Recalling that the mandate of the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia was extended on 12 September, he said that is an unmistakable sign of the international community’s commitment to the peace process, adding that the Government has a clear mandate to build democracy. The implementation of the peace agreement is a cross-cutting component of the national development plan and is not the work of a few days, he emphasized, pointing out that the work required goes beyond the agreement’s implementation, as demonstrated in the progress recorded in the Mission’s recent report.

YAZEED ALZAHRANI (Saudi Arabia) cited his delegation’s support for the Hudaydah Agreement in order to promote stability and alleviate suffering in Yemen. He also commended the work of UNOWAS and the G-5 Sahel, also citing his country’s support for stability in Sudan and for the political transition there. Regional organizations must play a central role in curbing crises and ending wars, he said, stressing the need to promote collaboration and cooperation between special political missions and regional actors. He went on to underline that special political missions must not confuse their mandates with interference in internal national affairs.

XOLISA MFUNDISO MABHONGO (South Africa), welcoming the deepening partnerships between special political missions and regional organizations, said missions must also continue to work closely with national stakeholders in setting priorities, building domestic capacity and implementing a common agenda. They should also act as a platform for promoting the participation of women in resolving conflict and in peace processes. Welcoming the initiative to prioritize the recruitment of women in order to create a pool of candidates for special political missions, he called for that process to be more geographically representative and transparent. He also welcomed efforts to increase young people’s participation in preventing conflict as well as increased coherence and complementarity between the special political missions and United Nations country teams. Underscoring the need for adequate funding of special political missions, he called for the creation of a special account that would protect them from general budget cuts while ensuring predictability and transparency.

AUDREY GANTANA (Namibia) noted that, although special political missions have always championed efforts for the maintenance of international peace and security through mediation in regional conflicts and inter-communal tensions, there is insufficient political commitment to them. Calling upon Member States to fulfil their financial contributions in sustaining their efforts, he said non-payment or late payment hamper implementation of United Nations resolutions, serving to further destroy the socioeconomic foundations of affected regions. Regional organizations play a critical role in supporting special political missions, she said, adding that the community is more likely to find a political solution that brings lasting peace when countries take ownership of unrest affecting a member of their region.

WISAM ALQAISI (Iraq), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said special political missions have a significant role to play in preventative diplomacy and in humanitarian efforts serving internally displaced people and refugees. Recalling UNAMI’s vital role in providing the humanitarian services his country needed, he called upon the international community to support the rebuilding of Iraq’s liberated areas in order to ensure the return of the 1.7 million people displaced from them. He said he looks forward to further United Nations and international support for the fight against terrorism in Iraq, adding that it should include efforts to dry up financing sources, eradicate extremist ideologies and support for the reintegration of victims of terrorism.

ADELA RAZ (Afghanistan) highlighted the importance of aligning the activities of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) with the principle of Afghan ownership and leadership of the security, development and governance pillars. Differences among Security Council members over issues irrelevant to special political missions should not get in the way of a more efficient United Nations support role, she added, pointing out UNAMA’s supporting role in the presidential and parliamentary elections through technical and logistical assistance. Welcoming the creation of the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, she said that its structure supports a single integrated approach to preventing and resolving conflicts while assisting democratic political transitions as well as national actors and United Nations development and humanitarian entities. Special political missions must take additional measures to prevent conflict before they break out, she stressed, expressing her delegation’s pleasure to note that the conflict-prevention agenda has gained new attention as part of the Secretary-General’s vision for a more effective Organization. Political missions involved in conflict and post-conflict situations must continue to strengthen the role of women in peace and reconciliation, she said, noting that Afghanistan knows from its own experience that the proactive engagement of women in peace processes is key to ensuring a successful outcome.

HUMBERTO RIVERO ROSARIO (Cuba) said special political missions have been deployed in diverse contexts and different security and socioeconomic environments. This demonstrates that a model cannot be imposed on those missions, which must have the flexibility to quickly adapt to developments on the ground. While peacekeeping missions are not always necessary, special political missions constitute an important tool for the United Nations to respond to certain situations. Those political missions must have realistic mandates, concrete objectives and the material and financial resources adapted to the reality on the ground and in strict compliance with Charter principles. He reaffirmed the General Assembly’s role in monitoring such missions so that the considerations of each Member State can be heard. Moreover, the General Assembly should hold a broad debate to identify a differentiated funding mechanism, including the establishment of an independent account.

IBRAHIM M. UMAR (Nigeria), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, called for a broad and inclusive approach to build, make and sustain peace, that must include prevention, addressing the root causes of conflict and national ownership. Thus, there is a need for special political missions to provide support to host countries through adequate consultation. Cooperation and coordination between the General Assembly, Security Council, Peacebuilding Commission and Secretariat are paramount, as are strong partnerships with regional and subregional organizations. Highlighting significant progress in the United Nations’ relationship with the African Union, he said the latter has unique local knowledge, expertise and capabilities that can complement special political missions. He also commended the United Nations Office for West Africa (UNOWA) in advancing preventive diplomacy, good offices and political mediation, as well as its collaboration with ECOWAS in developing a regional action plan on transhumance and establishing an informal working group on pastoralism and conflict prevention.

ELSA HAILE (Eritrea) said it is clear that the presence of special political missions can have a significant multidimensional role in the prevention of conflict and in sustaining peace. The success of these missions lies in their ability to have effective processes that contribute to a sustainable peace. Their presence also makes them well-placed for wider contributions, including discussions and decisions on the future relevance and review of their mandates. In this regard, they should operate under clear, credible and achievable mandates. It is also crucial that their mandates have clear exit strategies, she said.

NAGARAJ NAIDU KAKANUR (India) said that the 40 special political missions operational today vary considerably in terms of their mandates and structures. Many of them operate in complex security situations, with both national and regional dimensions, as well as cross-border threats, including transnational organized crime and terrorism. The sovereignty and territorial integrity of all States where the missions operate must be respected and the principles of impartiality, consent of parties, national ownership and national responsibility should be paramount. Opaque mechanisms can never deliver truly durable results, he said, noting that there is a need for a genuinely transparent, participatory process, be it during inception of the mission, mandate formulation or renewal. There must also be a greater communication and information flow between the Security Council, General Assembly and the Secretariat regarding the missions and it should involve Member States in a substantive manner.

Source: United Nations