Assistant Secretary-General for Europe, Central Asia and Americas
Miroslav Jenča’s Remarks at the General Assembly Fourth Committee session on
Comprehensive Review of Special Political Missions
New York, 2 November 2023
Madam Chair [Ambassador Mathur Joyini (South Africa)],
It is a pleasure to introduce, on behalf of the Secretary-General, his eleventh report on “Overall policy matters pertaining to special political missions”.
I am honoured to be joined by my colleague, Mr. Atul Khare, Under-Secretary-General for Operational Support, whose Department is critical in enabling our special political missions to fulfil their mandates.
I would like to express my appreciation to the delegations of Finland and Mexico for their leadership on this agenda item and their close cooperation with the Secretariat and my Department.
We are also grateful to Member States for their participation in the event we held last month to mark the 75th anniversary of special political missions.
Our world is one of heightened uncertainty, volatility, and rapid transformation.
Conflicts have grown exponentially, creating massive humanitarian disasters that are testing our collective capacities to respond. Military expenditures are soaring while funding for humanitarian aid, peacemaking and peacebuilding shrinks.
We are also facing a series of transnational threats, including the impact of the climate crisis and the potential for the weaponization of new technologies and domains.
And yet, just as collective action is needed most, the world is growing more divided. Tensions between major powers are perilously high. And the mechanisms that once maintained global stability are under severe strain.
It was this crying need for more unity, dialogue and cooperation that was the driving force behind the Secretary-General’s policy brief on A New Agenda for Peace.
The policy brief is stark in its analysis: the post-Cold War period is behind us, and the world is transitioning toward a new order, with high levels of geopolitical tension and low levels of trust. A New Agenda for Peace offers the Secretary-General’s vision for how Member States can work together to rebuild trust, enhance solidarity, and revitalize multilateral action for peace.
We are grateful for the active engagement of Member States in consultations we held to inform the drafting of this policy brief. And we are heartened that its analysis, principles and call for more diplomacy and peacemaking have been welcomed.
A major recommendation for A New Agenda for Peace is the overwhelming needs to prevent conflict, mediate and resolve conflicts and build peace. The report before this Committee details how special political missions are just that.
From Libya and Somalia to Gaza, Syria, Iraq and Yemen, Special Envoys and Representatives of the Secretary-General are supporting political processes and working to pave the way for peace and reconciliation.
In the Middle East, Special Coordinator Wennesland is working tirelessly with all sides to de-escalate the situation in Gaza. All our envoys in the region are trying to prevent further regionalization of the conflict.
In Colombia, the UN Verification Mission has made a critical contribution to the implementation of the 2016 Final Agreement, supporting reintegration of former combatants, security guarantees, comprehensive rural reform, and transitional justice and reconciliation. The mission also facilitated the resumption of peace talks between the National Liberation Army or ELN, which resulted in a six-month ceasefire agreement. At the request of the parties, the Security Council has expanded the Mission's mandate to include monitoring and verifying the implementation of this ceasefire.
In the Great Lakes region, the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General has undertaken a series of good offices missions to prevent an escalation of tensions between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda, an integral effort to support regional peace.
Special political missions are also working in a variety of settings to explore and pilot new technologies, tools and practices in conflict prevention, mediation and peacebuilding.
I would like to highlight three of the thematic issues addressed in this year’s report of the Secretary-General.
The first is Women, Peace, and Security.
Last week marked the 23rd anniversary of Security Council resolution 1325 (2000). This was an occasion to recognize that we have come a long way in increasing the participation of women in peace and political processes in the last two decades. But women, who are disproportionally affected by conflicts and violence, are still too often excluded from the peace table and transition efforts.
We must address the structural inequalities that are denying women the opportunity, representation, legal protections, physical autonomy, safety and security on- and off-line. Education and healthcare are exacerbated in conflict contexts.
Dismantling structural gender inequalities and incorporating women’s voices and contributions is not only a matter of equity and right, but a powerful means to expand the ownership of peace and political processes.
Special political missions have been instrumental in advocating for increased participation of women in these areas.
In Iraq, Libya, Sudan, and Syria, our missions enabled women’s participation in negotiating delegations.
In Afghanistan, our mission is doing its utmost to stop and reverse an attack on basic rights of women in the society.
UNAMA and UN Women regularly consult Afghan women’s groups and activists across the country and persist in presenting their concerns to the de facto authorities and raising individual cases of arbitrary arrest and detention. This essential work will continue.
The Second area is on Youth, Peace and Security.
Meaningful youth engagement is crucial for the achievement of sustainable development, human rights, and gender equality, and peace and security.
Special political missions are actively reviewing and adapting their approaches to better harness the positive potential of young people in building peaceful, prosperous, and just societies.
In Central Asia, the UNRCCA is working to enhance youth participation in initiatives promoting human rights, combatting the climate crisis, and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
In Libya, UNSMIL regularly engages with youth representatives on ways to build consensus regarding the legal framework for national elections.
In Somalia, UNSOM conducted discussions with young men and women in the Federal Member States to reinforce the role in democratization at the provincial or subnational level.
The third thematic area is supporting Member States in building sustainable peace.
In collaboration with UN country teams, special political missions continue to support the implementation of inclusive and nationally led peacebuilding priorities.
During the reporting period, the Peacebuilding Fund approved $37.4 million for projects in Colombia, Haiti, Libya, Somalia, and Sudan – all countries hosting special political missions.
These projects supported reconciliation initiatives and the participation of women and youth in public life and political transitions.
Special political missions also implement the peacebuilding agenda at the regional level.
In Central Africa, UNOCA works closely with the subregional organization, ECCAS, to address the growing risk of violence fuelled by disinformation and hate speech. In July, UNOCA helped organize a regional forum on the Draft Regional Strategy and Action Plan to Prevent and Combat Hate Speech in Central Africa.
In the Horn of Africa, the Special Envoy has established a Climate, Peace, and Security Hub to support IGAD's efforts to address the impacts of climate change on peace and security in the sub-region. The new Hub will coordinate the UN system at the regional level and incorporate climate considerations into mediation and preventive diplomacy.
Since the early years of the United Nations, Member States have relied on special political missions to address a wide range of complex threats to international peace and security. The good offices role of the Secretary-General, carried out by his envoys and representatives, have taken on greater urgency as we survey the deteriorating peace and security landscape around us.
With your support, I am confident that special political missions can and will play a crucial role in carrying forward multilateral diplomacy for peace and operationalizing Chapter VI of the Charter of the United Nations.
Our missions will also be ready to play their part in implementing measures to bolster cooperation agreed on by Member States at the Summit of the Future in September next year.
In conclusion, Madam Chair, I would like to express my Department’s appreciation to all Member States for their continued engagement on this agenda item and strong support for special political missions. We remain grateful in particular to those countries that are hosting special political missions.
I wish also to extend a tribute to the United Nations personnel serving in special political missions, who often work under immensely challenging conditions.
I look forward to a rich discussion.