Before I proceed to make my statement, I would like to thank you and other members of the Bureau for the wise and successful stewardship of our Committee. Also, I would like to thank Under-Secretaries-General Ladsous and Khare for their comprehensive and informative briefings and their efforts to strengthen the United Nations peacekeeping operations in an increasingly challenging environment.
Serbia aligned itself with the statement made by the European Union; nonetheless, I shall address some of the issues in the area of peacekeeping which, in the view of my country, belong among the peacekeeping priorities.
Peacekeeping is one of the most important instruments for maintaining international peace and security and one of the core functions of the United Nations. Today, peacekeeping operations are more complex than ever before, especially in assisting countries to transition from conflict to sustainable peace. Considering the increasingly difficult operational environment and the scope and complexity of demands and challenges, the strengthening of the United Nations peacekeeping capacity and the optimization of the available resources are essential prerequisites for effective functioning of the field operations and a successful implementation of their mandate authorized by the Security Council.
Serbia attaches great importance to the key role of the United Nations in promoting and maintaining international peace and security and considers peacekeeping operations as one of the most important instruments to ensure lasting peace in the world. We agree that it is necessary to reform the institutional base of the peacekeeping modality and support the efforts aimed at increasing the efficiency and performance of peacekeeping missions, including the use of modern technology, linking the security and development, better protection of peacekeeping missions in the field and ensuring greater participation of women in all phases of peacekeeping and peace building processes.
In that context, my country fully supports the recommendations of the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations, which highlight all key issues in the area of reviewing the peacekeeping essential performance. In particular, we attach special importance to the four essential shifts called for in the HIPPO report that would allow the United Nations to position its peacekeeping operations to better respond to current and future challenges: ensuring the primacy of politics, a flexible use of the full spectrum of peace operations, stronger partnerships, as well as a field-focused UN Secretariat and people-centered peace operations.
My country shares the deep concern that attacks on the United Nations personnel are becoming increasingly common and highlight a reality that they encounter on a daily basis. Emphasizing that the safety and security of the United Nations personnel need to be addressed as a matter of priority, we support all efforts aimed at creating the measures to better protect peacekeeping missions in the field, in accordance with the provisions of the United Nations Charter and the relevant basic principles.
As a reliable member of the international community, Serbia is an active contributor to United Nations peacekeeping operations, demonstrating in that way its commitment to the fundamental goals of our Organization with regard to establishing and safeguarding international peace and security.
Serbia heads the region in participation in peacekeeping operations and is among the first 10 countries in Europe that take part in peacekeeping missions all over the world. Over 300 members of the armed forces of Serbia have joined the ranks of over a hundred thousand United Nations peacekeepers and my country will ramp up its participation in the forthcoming period. And, as an EU candidate country, Serbia takes part in EU missions as well.
At the largest ever meeting of Defence Ministers in London last month, Serbia continued to demonstrate its dedication to the United Nations peacekeeping operations. We did so in the firm belief that international peacekeeping operations are irreplaceable in building and maintaining international peace and security.
Furthermore, my country is firmly committed to the implementation of UNSCR 1325 (2000) Women, Peace and Security. The results achieved in the previous period of the implementation of the National Action Plan for the Implementation of UNSCR 1325 (2000) are visible in almost every aspect of the work and life of the members of the security sector, particularly in the increase in the participation of women in the activities related to international cooperation and multinational operations. Women account for over 11 per cent of the overall number of civilian and military personnel serving in 11 multinational operations, 8 of them United Nations peacekeeping operations.
Today, Serbia partners United Nations Member States in an effort to contribute to lasting peace and prosperity in the world. We are firmly committed to promoting sustainable peace and development, which is the basis for reconciliation, understanding, stability and conflict-prevention.
As a host country of one of the United Nations peacekeeping operations, I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate the strong support the Republic of Serbia attaches to the role of the United Nations Mission in Kosovo and Metohija (UNMIK) and its active engagement in creating conditions for peaceful life together of the residents of the Province, security of all local communities and the respect of their human rights. The status-neutral engagement of UNMIK remains the only acceptable framework within which all of us can work together in order to improve the lives of ordinary people in Kosovo and Metohija. The presence of the United Nations Mission is of paramount importance for stability in the Province and for the creation of conditions that should lead to a lasting and sustainable solution of the question of Kosovo and Metohija. I would like to point out also on this occasion that UNMIK’s strengthened presence and role are of particular importance for the Republic of Serbia and, especially, for the Serbs and other non-Albanians living in Kosovo and Metohija, all the more so in view of the confidence and trust that they have in the Mission. Serbia expects that UNMIK will continue to carry out its mandate under UNSCR 1244 (1999) also in the forthcoming period.
Before I conclude my statement, let me point out the important role played by the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations (C34) in devising the way forward for UN peacekeeping policy. We express our sincere hope that it will continue to render strategic guidance on peacekeeping operations, based on consensus and within timelines set for its yearly activities.
Last but not least, let me commend all United Nations peacekeepers who risk their lives every day, so that peace and security may prevail in the world. I also salute those who made the ultimate sacrifice for these noble goals.
I thank you, Mr. Chairman.