On August 26, 2011 the United Nations Security Council (SC) held an open debate on UN global peacekeeping operations, with statements focusing on the usual themes of the importance of strengthening cooperation and partnership between the Security Council, Secretariat and Police and Troop contributing countries (PCC, TCC); increasing links between peacekeeping and peacebuilding efforts; and resources. Various representatives also reiterated the need for greater mainstreaming of a gender perspective on peacekeeping, as well as the necessity of an increase in women's participation in both civilian and police forces.
Opening the debate Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon highlighted both the challenges and opportunities facing UN Peacekeepers as Peacekeeping operations enter a complex “new phase”. He praised the success of recent operations in Timor-Leste and Sudan. Identifying partnership as being “the cornerstone of Peacekeeping” the Secretary-General called for a more streamlined approach to the organization and mobilization of mandates, an approach welcomed unanimously by representatives of the Council.
A majority of Members States commented on the need to match mandates to available and attainable resources, and in addition underlined the significance of securing expert military training for peacekeepers. Reconfirmed by a majority of representatives was the need for an increase in coordination between peacekeeping and peacebuilding efforts, with a view to achieving a sustainable peace. Here emphasis was placed on the role of civilian peacekeepers and the involvement of local forces.
With much of the debate focused on technical matters, references to women and gender perspective were seldom heard at this debate, with only 5 statements - France, Brazil, Germany, Portugal and the Philippines – out of 48 making explicit reference to gender. All 5 references were brief in nature and linked primarily with the broader theme of protection of civilians.
Notably, France, Germany and Portugal stressed the importance of female participation in post-conflict reconstruction, peace-building operations and the integration of women into local police and military forces. “Women are among the main assets for transforming societies and it is therefore vital to strengthen their participation” was the statement made by the representative for France. Portugal praised the success of progress on the implementation of resolution 1325, while also highlighting the need to “strive harder” in areas relating to the mainstreaming of gender in peacekeeping operations.
“Women are among the main assets for transforming societies, and it is therefore vital to strengthen their participation in decision-making. Integrating women into police and armed forces will make it possible to fight sexual and gender-based violence and to promote human rights in these institutions”.
Underlining the need to better protect women in conflict situations, all 5 statements emphasized the importance of providing peacekeeping forces trained and equipped to deal with challenges particular to women, specifically sexual and gender based violence. Brazil expressed support for the incorporation of “more advanced, scenario based training”, while Portugal called for an increase in female peacekeeping personnel.
In addition, the representative for the Philippines spoke of the success of the “training-of-trainers” program carried out in the Asian region last June related to “the new United Nations Police Standardizing Training Curriculum on Preventing and Investigating Sexual and Gender-Based Crimes”.