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Special political missions are a vital part of the UN's Charter's diplomatic toolbox, helping to prevent and resolve conflict, Under-Secretary-General DiCarlo tells Fourth Committee

Introductory Remarks by Ms. Rosemary DiCarlo, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, on the occasion of the briefing to the Fourth Committee on “Comprehensive Review of Special Political Missions”

4 November 2022, 3:00pm


Mr. Chair [H.E. Mr. Mohamed Al Hassan (Oman)],


Distinguished delegates,

Let me start by congratulating you, Mr. Chair, and the members of the Bureau, on your election. I wish the Fourth Committee a fruitful session.

Let me also thank Finland and Mexico for their leadership on this agenda item.

I am pleased to be joined by Atul Khare, Under-Secretary-General for Operational Support. His department is an invaluable partner, providing critical support to special political missions.

And it is my pleasure to introduce today the tenth report of the Secretary-General on this item. 

Mr. Chair,

During the General Debate in September, global leaders expressed concern about the deteriorating international peace and security environment. They noted that multiple major challenges are rapidly converging — more complex conflicts, rising inequalities, climate change, technological disruption, terrorism, the rocky recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, and skyrocketing food and oil prices.

Meanwhile, the ability of Member States to take collective action to address these interlocking challenges is being undermined by renewed geostrategic competition at levels we have not seen in decades.

It is clear that the world is at an inflection point – and that Member States need to work together to navigate this uncertain moment.

Two years ago, the UN75 Declaration echoed these concerns. It underscored that “multilateralism is not an option but a necessity as we build back better for a more equal, more resilient, and more sustainable world.”

The UN75 Declaration dedicated particular attention to promoting peace and preventing conflict. It noted that the “diplomatic toolbox of the Charter” should be used to its full potential, including preventive diplomacy and mediation. It called on the Secretary-General to enhance it.

Special political missions are a vital part of this toolbox. Through their work in preventive diplomacy, peacemaking, and peacebuilding, they play an important role in helping Member States prevent conflict and build sustainable peace. Their diversity and flexibility have allowed us to design different types of responses to many of the peace and security challenges we face today.

From Myanmar to Syria, the Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes, our missions are working with conflict parties and regional stakeholders to advance complex peace processes.  

Allow me to share a few examples:

In Yemen,  through intense diplomatic efforts, the Special Envoy  helped broker a nationwide truce that was in effect for six months, leading to a significant reduction in violence and civilian casualties.

Despite the lack of agreement between the parties in early October on renewing the truce, there are no reports of a return to open hostilities, even if the situation remains tense. Urging the parties to continue to exercise maximum restraint, the Special Envoy has continued his shuttle diplomacy with the parties to find a way forward to achieve an extended and expanded truce. 

In Somalia, Libya and elsewhere, our missions are supporting national authorities in managing political transitions and electoral processes.

In Iraq, UNAMI provided enhanced electoral assistance to the parliamentary elections in October 2021. The mission deployed 150 United Nations international electoral experts and approximately 550 national support personnel to all Governorates and provided support to strengthen the electoral administration and processes.

Following the election, the mission conducted non-stop engagements with all the parties to overcome the political stalemate, from participating in dialogue initiatives and meeting with many stakeholders to preparing roadmaps and conducting shuttle diplomacy in various forms.

Our missions also work hand-in-hand with host governments in the aftermath of conflict in order to help build sustainable peace.

In Colombia, the United Nations Verification Mission is working closely with the parties to the 2016 Agreement to build confidence and consolidate inclusive, lasting peace in the country. The Mission is supporting multiple peacebuilding initiatives, notably on reintegration, security guarantees, and transitional justice and reconciliation, in close coordination with the UN Country Team.

This has allowed the Mission to make important contributions to the nationally-led peace consolidation process, for instance by helping promote the sustainable reintegration of over 13,000 former combatants.  

Mr. Chair,

This tenth report by the Secretary-General covered a spectrum of policy issues. For today’s discussion, I would like to highlight the following two examples.

First, the women, peace, and security agenda.

Despite our commitments to promote women’s full, equal and meaningful participation in peace and political processes, we are still falling far short when it comes to implementation. Special political missions are  playing an essential role in translating commitments into concrete outcomes.

In line with Security Council resolution 2493 (2019), we are convening high-level strategy meetings to help promote women’s participation in peace processes. So far, we have organized such meetings for the Geneva International Discussions, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.

In Libya UNSMIL advocated at all levels for the inclusion of women in political processes and decision-making bodies. Following engagement from the Mission, the House of Representatives and the High State Council agreed to endorse a 25 percent quota for women to be applied to all future electoral processes.

Since arriving in Libya to take up his functions in mid-October, SRSG Bathily has engaged with women activists and political candidates to seek their views on how to further achieve progress in inclusive intra-Libyan talks. 

In Sudan, UNITAMS facilitated country-wide consultations, which resulted in the establishment of a Women’s Rights Group to amplify the voices of Sudanese women. This group is now positioned to participate in the next phase of political talks in Sudan, and bring women’s perspectives to all priority agenda items under discussion.

Second, promoting a regional approach to peace and security.

Strengthening United Nations partnerships with regional and subregional organizations is integral to the Secretary-General’s vision for a networked and inclusive multilateralism. It is also critical for our conflict-prevention and peacemaking work, both nationally and regionally.

Our three regional offices [UNOWAS, UNOCA and UNRCCA] and two regional envoys [Horn of Africa and Great Lakes Region] have regional mandates.

They serve as forward platforms for preventive diplomacy in their regions, helping Member States address cross-border and cross-regional issues such as countering terrorism and managing shared natural resources. They also have helped institutionalize our strategic partnership with regional and subregional organizations.

Nowhere is this partnership more visible than in Africa, where we celebrate an important milestone this year: the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the African Union.

We are also celebrating this year the 20th anniversary of the creation of the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS).

Since its establishment in 2002, UNOWAS has developed a deeply connected partnership with Economic Commission Of West African States (ECOWAS) that has proved essential for peace and stability in the West Africa and the Sahel. An example of the value of this partnership is the joint engagement of UNOWAS and ECOWAS in Burkina Faso, Guinea and Guinea-Bissau.

Together, the two organizations have advocated for the swift return to constitutional order in countries that experienced military coups, called for inclusive political dialogue and consensus building ahead of key elections, and engaged with political actors and other stakeholders to defuse tensions following contested electoral outcomes.

Mr. Chair,

In order to address the current complex global environment , the Secretary-General, in his report on “Our Common Agenda,” committed to preparing a New Agenda for Peace. This document will offer a robust vision for strengthening our work in prevention, peacemaking, and peacebuilding – which lies at the heart of the mandates of special political missions.

Delivering on these commitments will require all of us to work together. DPPA , which is leading the preparation of this document, will engage closely with Member States to seek your views and priorities in this process.

Mr. Chair,

I would also like to highlight that May 2023 will mark the 75th anniversary of the deployment of the first United Nations special political mission in 1948 in the Middle East.

DPPA looks forward to working with Member States to commemorate this event and to reflect on the important and successful history of special political missions in advancing peace and dialogue throughout the history of the organization.

In conclusion, I would like to express my department’s appreciation to all Member States for their continued engagement on this agenda item and strong support of special political missions. In particular, I want to stress our gratitude to those countries that are hosting special political missions.

I also want to pay tribute to the dedicated and courageous United Nations personnel serving in special political missions deployed worldwide.

I look forward to a rich discussion.  Thank you.