Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the UN, United States

Security Council Ministerial Open Debate: “Peacekeeping Operations facing asymmetrical threats”

Statement by H.E. Karel J.G. van Oosterom, Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the United Nations. New York, 7 November 2016

Monsieur le Président,

Merci à Senegal pour organiser ce débat très important.

The Kingdom of the Netherlands aligns itself with the statement made on behalf of the EU and its Member States.

In addition, we fully support the statement (to be) made by Italy, in the light of our cooperation related to the upcoming split mandate in the Security Council. As a member of the split term in the Security Council for 2017 and 2018, the Netherlands, together with Italy, will continue its sustained efforts for more effective peace operations and encourage other countries to join us.

Now, on the topic of today’s debate; peacekeeping and asymmetric threats. The concept-note we received sets out clearly that the environment in which our missions have to operate has changed dramatically over the years. It has become more dangerous and more challenging.

I would like to address three elements that in our view are of crucial importance for peace operations to address asymmetric threats. They are (1) a comprehensive approach (2) highly qualified and well-trained troops and equipment and (3) well-developed intelligence capabilities.

1.  Comprehensive approach

First of all, I would like to briefly elaborate on the comprehensive approach. Recently we had the honour of welcoming the Malian minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Diop, to the Netherlands.

He praised the UN for their continued support for the stabilisation of his country. And he also stressed that, in order to address the problem of violent extremism and terrorism in a sustainable way, we need to fully understand and address what really drives young, often moderately religious Malians, to resort to joining terrorist groups.  

To do so, peace operations need to be part of an integrated approach. Missions must be linked to other available instruments for promoting peace, security and stability. We must create economic opportunities for young people receptive to the ideas of violent extremism. Only an integrated approach ensures a lasting impact.

2.  Highly qualified and well-trained troops and equipment

Monsieur le Président,

Let me turn to my second point: the UN needs well-trained and well-equipped troops in order to face asymmetric threats. The same applies to police contributions, which are important in the framework of the comprehensive approach I just mentioned.

As we have seen in South Sudan, Protection of Civilians has become a vital element in a lot of missions. However, the findings of the report of the independent special investigation into the violence in Juba in July, and the response to it by the UN mission in South Sudan are painful. This example proves yet again how important training and equipment are for missions in order to live up to their mandates.

As one of the co-hosts of the Obama Summit and the London Summit, the Netherlands has raised the important issue of providing peace operations with crucial capabilities, such as helicopters and IED-resistant vehicles, before. These are scarce and expensive capabilities but essential to counter asymmetric threats. While continuing to increase the necessary interaction of blue helmets with the local population.

We welcome the fact that the UN is looking for innovative solutions, including a long-term rotation plan for helicopters in MINUSMA. In such a plan, countries would agree to provide helicopters for a certain limited time, making it easier for them to commit.

3.  Well-developed intelligence capabilities

Monsieur le Président,

Let me turn to my final point: intelligence capabilities.

In complex and dangerous environments, such as Mali, the gathering, analysis and use of intelligence are vital, not only for the effective implementation of the mandate, but also for the security of UN personnel.

For my country, it has been rewarding to assist the UN in developing and introducing a substantial intelligence capacity in MINUSMA. The UN is now using intelligence in ways deemed impossible just a few years ago.

As the concept of intelligence in the UN is evolving, the Kingdom of the Netherlands is looking forward to working together with our UN partners to further develop the use of intelligence in peace operations.


Monsieur le Président,

I have addressed three elements that in our view are of crucial importance for peace operations to address asymmetric threats. Namely, a comprehensive approach, qualified and well-trained troops, and equipment and well-developed intelligence capabilities.

It is clear that in the current environment the UN can no longer solely rely on traditional methods to counter asymmetric threats. We need to innovate, to adjust and be flexible. We need to step up to new challenges - before terrorist groups disrupt delicate peace processes, before we lose even more blue helmets.

Merci à vous.