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Briefing to the Fourth Committee on "Comprehensive Review of Special Political Missions", Under-Secretary-General Rosemary A. DiCarlo

5 Nov 2018 - 18:55

Mr. Chairman, [Ambassador Dee‑Maxwell Saah Kemayah, Sr., Permanent Representative of Liberia],


Ladies and gentlemen,


On behalf of the Secretary-General, I am pleased to address the Fourth Committee on his sixth report entitled “Overall policy matters pertaining to special political missions”. We deeply appreciate the Committee’s continued support on this important issue.

I would like to thank Finland and Mexico as co-facilitators of this item for their leadership and engagement. I also thank all Member States once again for the very constructive interactive dialogue that we had last July focusing on special political missions and conflict prevention.

Today’s debate is another opportunity to exchange views on a range of key policy matters relating to special political missions, some of the challenges they face, and how we can continue to improve their effectiveness.


Mr. Chairman,

As requested by the General Assembly resolution 72/89, this year’s report of the Secretary-General contains detailed information regarding the Secretariat’s efforts to improve expertise and effectiveness, transparency, accountability as well as geographical representation, gender perspective, and women’s equal participation.


Mr. Chairman, 

I would like to first address one of the key policy issues addressed in the report: conflict prevention and sustaining peace.

The changing nature of conflict today calls for inclusive, integrated, and innovative approaches. In this regard, the Secretary-General has placed prevention at the centre of everything the United Nations does.

To achieve this objective, special political missions remain one of our most important instruments to operationalize preventive diplomacy, assist in conflict resolution, and support longer-term efforts to sustain peace.

 In Iraq, the engagement of UNAMI contributed to the normalization of relations between the Federal Government in Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government in Erbil following recent tensions. In Somalia, UNSOM is supporting the Federal Government in implementing its Roadmap on Inclusive Politics, which aims to create a conducive environment for the elections in 2020-21.

In Myanmar, the new Special Envoy of the Secretary-General, who started her work in May 2018, has been working closely with the authorities to help resolve the Rohingya crisis.

And in Syria and Yemen, our Special Envoys continue their efforts to resume political processes to end protracted conflicts that have produced devastating humanitarian implications.

Our three regional offices in West Africa, Central Africa and Central Asia continue to serve as forward platforms for preventive diplomacy, working closely with Member States, regional organizations, and civil society. UNOCA [UN Regional Office for Central Africa] and UNOWAS [UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel] are together supporting regional efforts to address the impact of violence carried out by terrorist groups such as Boko Haram. In Central Asia, UNRCCA [United Nations Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia] continues to engage regional stakeholders on shared water and energy resources and supports the reinforcement of national and regional capacities for dialogue and conflict prevention.


Second, I would like to address the issue of gender and geographic diversity in special political missions.

One of the greatest strengths of the United Nations is its diversity; the broad representation of men and women from the global United Nations membership. The Secretary-General continues to be committed to promoting and improving the representation of women, including in special political missions. Women now comprise 44 per cent of serving and designated heads and deputy heads of our field-based special political missions. This has increased by 16 per cent over the past year. We will continue to bolster our efforts to implement the Secretary-General’s system-wide strategy on gender parity. Similarly, improving geographical diversity will remain our priority.


Third, I would like to emphasize the importance of regional partnerships.

The Secretary-General is committed to building meaningful partnerships for prevention, and strong partnerships with regional and sub-regional organizations are essential elements for the success of SPMs.

At the strategic level, the Secretary-General has personally worked to enhance and expand new forms of collaboration with regional partners. In June, he convened a high-level interactive dialogue with a number of regional and other organizations active in the realm of international peace and security.  This meeting resulted in renewed commitment to promote multilateralism.  Participants also agreed to take concrete actions to further advance their cooperation, particularly at the field level. 

Our SPMs engage in regular consultation and coordination with regional and sub-regional organizations.

For example, the Office of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Sudan and South Sudan worked closely with the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the African Union to support the peace process between the two countries.  This partnership contributed to the signing in September of the Revitalized Agreement to Resolve the Conflict in South Sudan. In the same period, our regional office in West Africa (UNOWAS), together with ECOWAS [Economic Community of West Africa] and the African Union Mission for Mali and the Sahel (MISAHEL) mobilized regional organizations active in the Sahel to create synergies and coordinate efforts to better address the multifaceted challenges in this region. 


Fourth, I would like to highlight the focus on women and youth in our activities.

Special political missions continued to integrate gender perspectives and to champion and support the effective participation of women in peace processes.  They are also working closely to support national and regional efforts to implement the women, peace and security agenda.

In Colombia, an inclusive gender working group is playing a critical role in mainstreaming gender considerations in the verification of aspects of the peace agreement between the Government of Colombia and the former guerilla group (FARC-EP). Meanwhile, the Women’s Advisory Board to the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Syria is helping to ensure gender perspectives and women’s participation are taken into consideration throughout a complex political process.

And in the Great Lakes region, high-level solidarity missions by women leaders representing the UN, the African Network of Women in Conflict Prevention and Peace Mediation (FemWise) and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region were deployed to a number of countries in the region to promote the participation of women in decision-making and peace processes.

In Afghanistan, UNAMA, in the context of its electoral assistance, has continued to support the Government promote gender equality and women’s participation. It is noteworthy that in the legislative elections held last month, one-third of voters were women.

In the same spirit, SPMs have been actively engaging youth in different aspects of their work. This includes political dialogue, as well as peace and reconciliation processes.

In Somalia, UNSOM [UN Assistance Mission in Somalia] has developed a Youth Strategy jointly with the UN Country Team and national authorities.

In Central Africa, UNOCA – in close cooperation with ECCAS, UNESCO, La Francophonie and the Government of Gabon – has been working with African youth groups to foster a culture of peace and fight radicalization.  

Security Council resolutions 2250 (2015) and 2419 (2018) on youth peace and security and the recent United Nations Youth Strategy, launched in September by the Secretary-General, provide SPMs with further opportunities to harness the potential of young people as agents for peace.


Finally, I would like to raise the issue of security and safety.

As you know, many of our SPMs support complex peace processes in highly volatile and challenging security environments. A number of these environments are characterized by ongoing violent conflict as well as terrorist and criminal activity by non-state armed groups. In places such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, the Syrian Arab Republic and Yemen, our staff face a considerable risk of becoming collateral victims, or even direct targets, in particular of extremist groups.

My Department is working closely with the Department of Safety and Security on risk management strategies and security mitigation measures. Such measures include the deployment of UN armed civilian personnel, deployment of military personnel on the ground as well as the deployment of guard units provided by Member States.

In particular, we are looking forward to the phased return of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya to Tripoli and other parts of the country in 2019, security conditions permitting. This will allow us to provide more direct support for the implementation of the United Nations Action Plan for Libya and to complete the political transition.

We need continued support from Member States to ensure that the safety and security of our personnel is fully guaranteed. 


Mr. Chairman,

In conclusion, I would like again to underscore the critical role played by special political missions in the maintenance of international peace and security.

The reforms endorsed by the General Assembly, particularly the restructuring of the peace and security pillar, will further strengthen the ability of the SPMs to deliver on their mandates. 

The individual and collective cooperation and support of Member States and regional partners remain essential to the success of our SPMs.  I am grateful to this Committee and the broader Membership for the continued support in that regard.

I would like also to take this opportunity to pay a special tribute to the United Nations personnel serving in special political missions, working under challenging conditions to advance the promise of the Charter. We greatly value and appreciate their commitment and dedication.

I look forward to hearing your views. Thank you.