We must bring what is happening in Belarus to the world’s attention and hear from those on the ground. Briefers on #BYHumanRights: UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus, Anaïs Marin; Belarusian opposition presidential candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya; Vice-Chairman of the Viasna Human Rights Center, Valiantsin Stefanovic; Legal Expert for the Belarusian Association of Journalists, Volha Siakhovich. The meeting is chaired by Urmas Reinsalu, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Estonia. The meeting was initiated by Estonia and co-sponsored by UN Security Council members the United States and United Kingdom, as well as Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, and Ukraine.

Statement by Ambassador S. Jürgenson at UN Security Council VTC open debate on UN peacekeeping

I would like to thank Under-Secretary-General Lacroix for his very comprehensive briefing and for highlighting the current challenges facing United Nations peacekeeping. Today’s meeting is a rare opportunity to reflect on peacekeeping as a whole. To narrow it down, I will be focusing on peacekeeping reform, performance and accountability, and Women Peace and Security.

Mr. President,

Estonia welcomes the Secretary-General’s guidance in reforming the United Nations Organization. For improving peacekeeping, his Action for Peacekeeping Initiative has proven to be an important framework for our collective efforts. It has successfully guided the adoption of several peacekeeping related resolutions in the Security Council, such as 2538 on the role of women in peacekeeping and 2518 on the safety of peacekeepers. It has led to the establishment of several key mechanisms by the Secretariat such as the Planning and Performance Assessment System. And it was further operationalized by the successful adoption of this year’s report of the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations in its new format. Estonia is proud to have been among the first to endorse the A4P Declaration and we will continue encouraging all parties to implement its commitments.

Turning to performance, one cannot overlook the impact of Covid-19 on peacekeeping: The responsibilities of UN peacekeeping missions have multiplied, as have the risks they are facing. The ongoing pandemic is testing the performance of peacekeeping missions, their ability to deliver on their mandates, to promote conflict resolution and to protect civilian populations in particular women and children. To that end, Estonia will continue to emphasize the crucial importance of implementing policies and mechanisms aimed at verifying and enhancing the performance of peace operations, with particular focus on the protection of civilians and the promotion of human rights. We expect the strengthening of the comprehensive performance assessment system and pre-deployment visits to continue. The peacekeeping performance and accountability framework should be finalized very soon. In Mali, for example, we have stressed the need for increasingly mobile, flexible and robust troop postures and stronger early warning systems. These, however, rely on ensuring that the troops we deploy have adequate training and equipment but also the capabilities necessary to fulfil their mandate. Strong mission performance is vital to the success of peacekeeping.

Speaking of improving performance, Estonia aims to achieve gender parity in our troop contributions by the end of this year. Evidence shows that better gender balance leads to better peacekeeping and more effective engagement with local communities. With this, we will continue to underline the importance of implementing the Women, Peace and Security agenda and its priorities, in particular promoting the full, equal and meaningful participation of women in peace processes. We will also continue to stress the importance of increasing the effectiveness of peacekeeping by better engagement with communities, in particular with the help of community liaisons and human rights officers.

Mr. President,

I would like to conclude by expressing gratitude and strong support to all UN peacekeepers, women and men, whose dedication and sacrifice bring hope to millions of people and help countries navigate the difficult path from conflict to peace. Thank you.