Under-Secretary-General Ameerah Haq
Under-Secretary-General Hervé Ladsous
Ambassador Sahebzada A. Khan
Ladies & Gentlemen
The themes we are discussing today have become more and more compelling every year, as the complexity of the scenarios and inherent challenges our missions are met with on the ground become more and more daunting. They face heightened new threats, greater constraints in resources and greater expectations from both the local society and the international community.
Doing “business as usual” is no longer enough: we need to modernize mission assets and equipment in line with the evolving nature of conflict situations.
Not more than a month ago, Under-Secretary Ladsous and Under-Secretary Haq addressed the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations (the C34) at the beginning of its session. They asked the delegates to uphold the role of the Committee as a policy forum and to provide clear direction to UN peacekeeping operations.
Regarding innovation, their words convey a strong and univocal message:
“Flexibility and innovation at HQ and within our missions is no longer an option, but an acute necessity”, said Mr. Ladsous.
“Providing for the safety and security of deployed personnel in volatile environments is an absolute necessity. […] Applying new technologies […] need to become a more standard feature of our modus operandi”, said Ms. Haq.
During the recent negotiations for the 2014 Report of the Special Committee an agreement was reached. A paragraph of the Report “encourages the Secretariat […] to support […] the agreed use of modern technology consistent with the basic principle of peacekeeping, to enhance, among others, situational awareness and force protection”.
Italy could not agree more with the Special Committee and is pleased that the main policy body of UN Peacekeeping tackled this issue successfully.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Italy is at the forefront of international efforts to bring innovation and new technologies into UN peacekeeping missions.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, an Italian company, Selex ES, has won the international tender for providing MONUSCO with sophisticated and tailored UAVs.
The Falco UAVs are currently being used to increase situational awareness on the ground, monitor armed groups and trafficking of arms and assess movements of displaced refugees, therefore improving our ability to protect peacekeeping troops. According to a few early assessments, the technology was shown to have had a tremendous impact on the capability of the mission to protect civilians and on overall security in that part of Congo.
I am proud to highlight that we are breaking new ground in this field, since it is the first time the UN has contracted with a civilian operator to provide UAV technology to aid in its mandate.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
This important seminar is only one of the many steps Italy and the European Union are taking in their growing engagement in the modernization of our peacekeeping operations. In fact, one of the main themes of Italy’s upcoming Presidency of the Council of the European Union will be the potential for UN-EU partnership in the crucial areas of training and new capabilities.
We strongly promote extensive and wide-ranging discussions: the debate on modern technology in the United Nations should not, in fact, be monopolized by the issue of the UAVs.
This is why the second panel of today’s seminar, drawing on the experience and expertise of industry representatives, will explore other significant examples of technology and innovations that can enhance the efforts of UN peacekeeping operations: night vision assets, geographic information systems, radar satellite imagery, solutions for logistic support to operations. (But let’s not spoil the surprise).
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We are aware that a number of factors prevent new technology from being widely used in peace operations, and recognize the legitimate concerns of some countries on issues such as the collection and dissemination of critical information or the assessment of the legal, operational and financial aspects of the use of these new resources.
Nonetheless, Italy will continue to build bridges, as we had the opportunity to do during the last C34 negotiations, and to seize every chance to promote cooperation on technology and peacekeeping issues. We are pleased to work side by side with leading troop-contributing countries such as Pakistan, that last year, as Chair of the Security Council Working Group on Peacekeeping Operations, did a tremendous job by proving how the effective use of technology can promote the safety of peacekeepers, increase the responsiveness of peacekeeping operations, and in general, help operators carry out their mandates more effectively.
Ambassador Sahebzada A. Khan,
It is not by chance that our nations are leading the efforts to create an agreed framework for the innovation and modernization of UN peacekeeping: Pakistan is currently the largest UN troop contributor overall with more than 8,000 personnel, while Italy, with more than 1,000 troops, is the largest contributor among Western Countries.
Our brave men and women are on the ground. We know the risks they are facing. We know their difficulties, their challenges. We know how frustrated they are with the gaps between a mission’s mandate and the tools at their disposal.
This is why, paraphrasing Mr. Ladsous and Ms. Haq, equipping peacekeeping operations with innovative and up-to-date technology is for us not only a necessity, but a non-deferrable duty.
A duty to our brave men and women who everyday on the ground risk their lives to create the conditions for lasting peace in countries torn by conflict.
A duty to the people we strive to help and protect all over the world.
A duty entrenched in the principle of peacekeeping and in our commitment to the values and principles of the UN Charter.
A duty we can no longer afford to disregard.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I wish you a fruitful and inspiring discussion, whose conclusions may contribute to build a consensus in the international community on the importance of innovation and technology in the planning and conduct of safer, more efficient and more effective peacekeeping operations.