(As delivered)


23 FEBRUARY 2006

Mr. President,

First, I thank Under-Secretary-General Guéhenno and Ambassador Zeid for their detailed briefings. My delegation acknowledges with appreciation the fact that, since the serious problem of sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers came to light, considerable efforts have been made over the past months by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), the missions deployed in the field and troop-contributing Governments to address the issue and take the necessary preventive and remedial measures. We strongly support the zero-tolerance policy of the Secretary-General in striving to stamp out that inexcusable misconduct in United Nations peacekeeping operations.

We particularly appreciated the highly valuable report submitted, along with recommendations, last March by the Special Adviser of the Secretary-General, Prince Zeid, on this issue. I wish to take this opportunity to pay a high tribute to the great efforts and contributions that the Ambassador of Jordan continues to make on that matter. Subsequent to that report, Member States and the Secretariat worked together in the General Assembly's Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations and adopted a comprehensive report providing for preventive measures to be implemented in all peacekeeping missions, including appropriate punishment for all violators of the rules.

Those are commendable efforts, but what is clearly most important is the implementation of the measures by all parties concerned, including DPKO and troop-contributing countries. The briefings provided this morning have made it clear that, while much improvement has been recorded in the field and at the Headquarters level to implement some of those recommendations - and we must acknowledge and appreciate the accomplishments that have been made - the full truth is that much remains to be done. There is no room for any complacency in that regard.

As part of the follow-up to implementation, the Security Council's Working Group on Peacekeeping Operations, which I have the honour to chair, last year took up the issue of sexual abuse and exploitation, with special attention devoted to the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC). The Working Group held a joint meeting with major troop-contributing countries, to which the Chairman of the General Assembly's Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations, Ambassador Wali of Nigeria, was also invited. That invitation to the Chairman of the Committee of 34, which he accepted, was intended to develop better coordination and a complementary working relationship between the subsidiary body of the Security Council and the General Assembly in the handling of DPKO issues. That meeting included an update by DPKO and troop-contributing countries regarding how the measures to prevent cases of sexual abuse and exploitation in MONUC were being implemented. There was an active exchange of views at the meeting about how those measures should be improved further. I felt that it was a useful exercise. The Council's Working Group on Peacekeeping Operation stands ready to be proactive in providing impetus, as necessary, to the implementation of preventive and remedial measures.

Mr. President,

The international community expects high standards of responsibility and discipline on the part of troops and staff deployed to United Nations peacekeeping operations. Every peacekeeper deployed and every troop-, police- and civilian-contributing country is expected to maintain high moral, ethical and professional standards while serving under the flag of the United Nations. In most situations they have lived up to those high expectations, and they deserve praise for their dedication and hard work -- which they frequently carry out in difficult circumstances, in the course of which the ultimate sacrifice has sometimes been required. Unfortunately, however, the reputation of United Nations peacekeeping operations has been tarnished by serious allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation due to the misbehaviour of some. Again, the issue of improper procurement practices and allegations of fraud and mismanagement in procurement services related to peacekeeping operations have come to undermine the credibility of peacekeeping operations. I do not envy Jean-Marie Guéhenno his position in the last few days. However, we must spare no effort in correcting the wrongs and overcoming the weaknesses in the system, thereby restoring the good name of United Nations peacekeeping operations by taking all the necessary measures with the same rigour and in a spirit of zero-tolerance. Nothing less will be acceptable to Member States. I would like to conclude by stating that DPKO has the full support of my delegation in its further efforts.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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