UN peacekeepers face greater threats from complex conflicts

United Nations (Associated Press)-Today, more than 66,000 UN peacekeepers are facing greater threats as conflicts become more complex and are driven by more and more factors, ranging from ethnic tensions and organized crime When it comes to illegal exploitation of resources and terrorism, the head of UN peacekeeping said on Friday.

Jean-Pierre Lacroix said in an interview with the Associated Press that even compared to two or three years ago, “the political and security environment for most of our peacekeeping operations has deteriorated.”

In addition, “just as important”, he said, conflicts are “multi-level”, usually local and national, but also regional and global. He cited the impoverished Sahel region of Africa as an example, where terrorist activities are increasing.

He said that there are many reasons for this change in the way the UN peacekeepers operate. The first is the intensified political differences among the 193 UN member states.

Lacroix said that the drivers of conflict are increasing, as well as what he calls “conflict-facilitating factors”, including the impact of digital technology, fake news and misinformation on conflict, and “armed groups using increasingly sophisticated means to destroy Our actions”.

The United Nations currently has 12 extensive peacekeeping operations — 6 in Africa, 4 in the Middle East, 1 in Europe, and 1 in Asia — with more than 66,000 military personnel, more than 7,000 international police and 14,000 from 121 countries Civilians joined the United Nations.

Lacroix said that peacekeepers continue to play a “huge role” in preventing conflicts in countries where they monitor ceasefires (such as Cyprus and southern Lebanon). “They also play a huge role in protecting civilians, although we hope to do more. many.”

But the deputy secretary-general in charge of peace operations said that the drivers of conflict “are having a huge impact on the conflicts we are involved in.”

“They pose an increasingly important threat to the countries where we deploy missions, and frankly, they pose an increasingly important threat to the regions where we do business,” he said.

“As a multilateral system, do we have enough capacity to deal with these threats?” Lacroix asked rhetorically. “I’m not sure. I think there may be more work to be done in these areas.”

He called the upcoming UN Peacekeeping Ministerial Conference in Seoul, South Korea from December 7th to 8th, an important opportunity to improve the performance and influence of peacekeepers and the “effectiveness of our tools” and to mobilize international support for these efforts.

Lacroix said that it is expected that a “large number” of ministers and senior officials from all UN member states will be held in Seoul, and emphasized that high-level participation is “critical” to express support for the UN peacekeeping operation, which is managed by a separate UN peacekeeping operation. The budget provides a total of 6.38 billion U.S. dollars for the year ending June 30, 2022, as well as voluntary contributions.

He said that the Department of Peacekeeping Operations has distributed a list to UN member states on what it needs to improve the protection of peacekeepers from ambushes, improvised explosive devices and attacks, and to protect their camps. He said that the list also includes improved medical support and equipment to make peacekeepers more flexible, maneuverable and responsive, especially more helicopters.

Lacroix said there are also two very important areas: improving the mission’s ability to collect and process information to better prevent threats without having to respond to threats, and increase the number of women in peacekeeping operations, “because We know that more women participating in peacekeeping means more effective peacekeeping operations.”

He said that it is very important for the government to support the department’s “digital transformation strategy for peacekeeping” because we firmly believe that if we make the best use of these new technologies, it can change the rules of the game for peacekeeping operations. “

He said that to do this, the United Nations must improve what he calls “the peacekeepers and the digital literacy of peacekeepers,” which means more training.

Lacroix said that if peacekeeping departments and peacekeepers can better use digital technology, they can better protect the men and women at the scene.

He said: “We may be able to communicate better and fight back against misinformation,” and the United Nations can better collect and process information “in a way that can take effective action.”

But Lacroix said that if peacekeeping operations are to be successful-“that is, to create conditions where peacekeeping missions can leave”-the government’s support for political efforts to achieve this goal is “critical.”

He said it must also be recognized that more and more peacekeeping operations are part of broader efforts and partnerships that can build different capabilities, including security, or help provide humanitarian assistance in places such as Congo, South Sudan or Mali. .

“We have to make sure that the role we play can make the most of it, other partners must also adopt the same approach, and we need to complement each other,” Lacroix said.

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