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Security Council – Open Debate on “United Nations Peacekeeping Operations”

Statement delivered by Italy at the Security Council Open Debate on “United Nations peacekeeping operations: United Nations transitions.” —

Italy thanks Ireland as President of the Security Council for organizing this Open Debate on Transitions in the context of Peacekeeping Operations.

UN transitions are a crucial step of peace processes as their management can significantly influence the outcome of the mission itself. While successful transitions create prospects for a sustainable peace, a troubled closure of a peacekeeping mission may lead to a relapse into conflict.

Transitions, which typically entail the drawdown and reconfiguration of peace operations, take place at a critical juncture: as peacekeeping missions are in the process of closing, the level of attention to these missions tends to decline, inducing a possible reduction of commitment from contributing countries At times, transitions may be perceived as a simple handover of duties and responsibilities, although the Security Council has been increasingly vocal in describing them as a reconfiguration of the UN presence in the host country and has endeavored to act accordingly.

In order to favor a successful transition, the framework of the exit strategy should already be outlined in the mission mandate based on a realistic analysis of the goals that the mission is supposed to achieve. This should be done in close cooperation with the Government of the host Country and with the meaningful involvement of national and local actors, being cognizant that an effective analysis of underlying national grievances could actually help build more realistic transition mandates as well. The importance of local ownership of the transition processes should not be underestimated as sustainable peace can be achieved only if discussions and peace negotiations – as well as their implementation – are truly inclusive and if all segments of society can have their voices heard and contribute to shaping the future of the society they live in.

The integrated quest for political solutions and socio-economic stability and development should be the primary goal of the United Nations and its Member States. Investing in economic recovery, development and peacebuilding activities is the recipe for successful transitions. In this spirit, the recent practice of the Security Council to gradually evolve into a more holistic understanding of the needs of the host Country, in order to provide a better support for a sustainable transition process, should be encouraged.

Peace and security issues should be addressed with an integrated, multidimensional and inclusive approach that encompasses all relevant sectors and local, national and regional actors with a view to preventing and mitigating conflict.

Furthermore, the timeline of a transition process needs to be tailored to the actual situation on the ground. Rushing the closure of a mission might increase as the risk of a relapse into conflict and should therefore be avoided. To this end, a thorough and independent assessment of the risks that might arise from a mission’s reconfiguration is crucial. In planning the winding down of a mission it is also essential to retain an appropriate degree of flexibility. While some clarity about the timeline is necessary, as the mission must make substantial logistics planning for the transfer of resources and personnel, setting a fixed end date could prove at times counterproductive as it could encourage overly optimistic reports from the mission and prompt spoilers to tactically wait until that time before resuming their disruptive activities on the ground. To minimize these risks, a few baseline, and objective conditions should be established before setting a fixed end date, without which the latter could be suspended or delayed. This flexible approach would provide the Security Council with a time-bound approach to transitions, while leaving open, with a clearer modality, opportunities for slowing down, recalibrating or even stopping transition processes that might prove too risky in changing circumstances. In this way, the transition processes would only start when security on the ground permits.

Finally, managing a successful transition from peacekeeping to peacebuilding also entails planning an orderly and integrated action of UN Agencies, Funds and Programs on the ground in accordance with the tripartite nexus peace-humanitarian-development and in line with the principles and criteria of the reformed UN Development System.