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Permanent Mission of the Republic of the Philippines to the United Nations
at the Fourth Committee on Agenda Item 35: Comprehensive Review of the Whole Question of Peacekeeping Operations in all their Aspects
Friday, 2 November 2007
At the outset, please allow me to express the Philippine Delegation’s appreciation to the Undersecretary General for Peacekeeping Jean Marie Guehenno and the Assistant Secretary General and Officer in Charge for Field Support, Ms. Jane Holl Lute for the reports they presented to us the other day. We also thank the members of the Secretariat for updating us on the ongoing efforts to meet the challenges that go with the continuing surge in the demand for more complex and multi-dimensional peacekeeping operations.
The Philippines also aligns itself with the statement delivered yesterday by the distinguished representative of Morocco on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement.
The Philippines reaffirms its commitment to the peacekeeping roadmap as outlined in Peace Operations 2010. We take note of the progress that has been made in the efforts to strengthen the peacekeeping capacity of the United Nations, particularly the restructuring of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO).
It is indeed too early to tell how the effort will turn out but the Philippines hopes that the DPKO will be able complete the restructuring of the peacekeeping capacities of UN Headquarters as scheduled by June 2008.
The Philippines welcomes the initial steps that have been taken so far, particularly the creation of the Department of Field Support (DFS) as well as the activation of the Integrated Operational Teams, the Office for Rule of Law and Security Institutions and the Policy, Evaluation and Training Division and the reconstitution of the Military Division into the Office of Military Affairs.
My Delegation is particularly pleased with the establishment of a Public Affairs Unit in the front office of the Undersecretary General as this newly created capacity will help the DPKO tell the story of UN peacekeepers more effectively.
We look forward to seeing the DPKO work more closely with the Department of Public Information, most especially in coming up with communications packages that would not only cater to the information requirements of UN missions and host countries but also of troop contributors in recognition of the invaluable role they play in UN peacekeeping.
Sexual exploitation and abuse remains a major area of concern for the Philippines. We are perturbed by the fresh allegations of this wrongdoing involving peacekeepers that came about despite our concerted effort to address the issue. While it is true that such cases have been on the decline since we first took action a few years ago, the recently reported allegations of sexual misconduct only goes to show that we still have a long way to go in our efforts to effectively contain this problem.
The zero-tolerance policy adopted by the DPKO in dealing with cases of misbehavior not only by peacekeepers but by UN staff as well is a step in the right direction. The Philippines remains guided by this as we continue to implement our own zero-tolerance policy on misbehavior by our peacekeeping personnel which we came up with as early as two years ago when we updated and revised the Policy Framework and Guidelines Governing Philippine Participation in Peacekeeping Operations to reflect the realities of present-day peacekeeping.
Further steps that could be taken to help us address this issue are the implementation of the revised Memorandum of Understanding as well as the finalization of the Capstone Doctrine that shall serve as the reference guide in planning, managing and conducting modern-day peacekeeping. We believe that our efforts would also be reinforced if Member-States would find agreement on the proposed strategy that is being discussed by the ad hoc working group on victim assistance.
The Philippines shares the position of other delegations who have expressed concern over the safety and security of UN peacekeepers. Based on the latest statistics presented to us by the Undersecretary General, eight peacekeepers lost their lives this year as a result of malicious acts.
It should also be noted that of the 67 peacekeepers who died in the line of duty since the start of the year, 61 were the result of accidents, disease or other causes. This number includes a Philippine Army officer serving with the UN Mission in Sudan who succumbed to malaria on October 24, just two weeks before the end of his tour of duty.
While we appreciate the steps being taken to mitigate the risks of hostile actions against peacekeepers, we feel that the focus should not be limited to armed elements that could pose serious physical harm to peacekeeping personnel. We need to also look into how we could learn from the other deaths, especially those that could have been prevented by proper training and supervision as well as the provision of the needed support systems in the field.
The Philippines is a small country with a very limited peacekeeping capability but we remain ready to heed the UN’s call to support existing and emerging peacekeeping operations. At present, the Philippines has 667 peacekeepers serving in nine UN missions overseas. With more than 300 police officers deployed, the Philippines is one of the largest if not the largest contributor of individual police officers to UN peacekeeping operations.
Just a few months ago, we were able to deploy police officers to support the UN missions in Georgia and Nepal. In the coming weeks, we will be sending 45 police officers to Darfur. We remain ready to commit additional police and military officers to conflict areas where they would be most needed if we are so requested by the DPKO. We would definitely be able to send more if we could partner with other Member-States who have the resources we need to help enhance our peacekeeping capabilities.
In this connection, the Philippines would also like to echo NAM’s call for a larger participation of western Member-States in the peacekeeping effort. We are pleased to know that a number have stepped in to share in the peacekeeping burden by sending troops and other assets to support ongoing and emerging missions. We hope that this gesture of a few would inspire others to do the same.
In closing, please allow me to express my Delegation’s appreciation to the Integrated Training Service (ITS) of the DPKO for letting the Philippines host the first UN Logistics Planners Course. The two-week course that was conducted from June 18 to 29 at Clark Field, Pampanga, brought together military, police and civilian planners from various member-states in the Asia-Pacific. It was a successful training program that we hope the ITS would be able replicate in other regions.
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