Egypt plays a leading role in contributing to peacekeeping and peacebuilding around the world, according to Elena Panova, the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Egypt.
Her remarks came on the sidelines of the celebration of the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers under the auspices of the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Panova said that since 1960, when Egypt first joined the UN peacekeeping operation in Congo, Egypt has been a consistent and valuable contributor to peacekeeping. More than 30,000 Egyptian police and military have served under the flag of the UN in 38 peacekeeping missions in 24 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe.
Regrettably, she mentioned that more than 35 peacekeepers lost their lives while serving in peacekeeping operations paying the ultimate price for keeping the peace.
“Egypt currently provides nearly 3200 military and police officers to the UN peacekeeping and is the seventh contributor overall, incl. the third largest contributor of police, and the eighth contributor of military experts,” Panova said.
“This contribution is recognized globally. And the re-election of Egypt as rapporteur of the UN special peacekeeping operations committee and its election as Chair of the UN Peacebuilding Commission earlier this year demonstrate this recognition,” she continued.
Further, she pointed to the adoption of the Cairo Roadmap on Enhancing Peacekeeping Operations as the African Union position shows the thought leadership of Egypt on this topic. She said that this demonstrates the two sides of the commitment of Egypt: as a leader in the global policy discussions, and as a contributor to missions on the ground.
The United Nations chose as theme for this year’s International Day of Peacekeeping: “the Road to Lasting Peace: Leveraging the Power of Youth for Lasting Peace and Security”.
“Looking ahead, we need to keep the momentum and strengthen our partnership for collective action to promote and enhance peacekeeping performance. In this regard I would like to share three notions,” according to Panova.
“First, we need to do more to support missions in the most challenging environments especially after the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic,” she said.
She noted that the pandemic caused further instability in fragile contexts. Food shortages and spikes in food prices stemming from COVID-19-related restrictions threaten to create unrest in many parts of the world. She said that UN operations will need to help manage these stresses in many of the countries where they are deployed
She assured that the strategic partnerships are the key towards the effective capacity building and collective engagement of the peacekeeping contributors.
In this regard, Panova commended the partnership between the Cairo International Center for Conflict Resolution, Peacekeeping and Peacebuilding (CCCPA) and the United Nations Family in Egypt for fostering dialogue, negotiation and mediation; early warning and early response and crisis management.
Second, she said that women peacekeepers are essential in promoting peace and security. Panova noted that there has been progress on increasing the numbers of women in peacekeeping at all levels, but slow progress. Ultimately this is about improving the performance of missions, as noted in UNSC Resolution 2436.
She explained that increased participation of women in peacekeeping missions will improve trust building with the communities and better address women’s vulnerabilities and needs.
“We need to work together to remove barriers that prevent women from being deployed in peacekeeping missions,” she said.
Third, she said that United Nations peacekeeping missions must set standards for sustainability and environmental management. She explained that destruction of natural resources, contamination and land use pressure are all potential conflict consequences.
Panova said that the “Greening the Blue Helmets” initiative opens a new chapter for the UN in leading by example towards a greener and more equitable world. It highlights that sustaining peace and sustainable development are two sides of the same coin.
Panova concluded her speech with a quote from the United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres; “UN peacekeeping is an investment in global peace, security and prosperity. The blue helmets are a concrete expression of the Charter’s determination to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.”
On behalf of the UN, Panova expressed her gratitude to the Government for Egypt’s contribution to peacekeeping and its role in promoting international peace, security and sustainable development.