Political solutions central to peace keeping operations: Maleeha Lodhi

New York, 12 June, 2016

Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi told the UN Security Council that political solutions must be front and centre of peacekeeping operations to secure a viable path to enduring peace.

Speaking in the open debate on Protecting Civilians in Peacekeeping Operations, the Pakistani envoy said that civilians can best be protected by preventing the outbreak of armed conflicts in the first place, addressing the root causes of conflicts, finding inclusive political solutions to disputes and seeking peaceful settlement of conflicts.

“The protection of civilians is a system-wide responsibility, with the host country in the lead”, she added.

As one of the world's top troop contributing countries, Ambassador Lodhi said, Pakistan has proudly undertaken the task of proactively protecting civilians. “Pakistan has shown in UN peacekeeping operations that this can be done by a robust deterrence posture, without resorting to the actual use of force”, she said.

Calling it a mistaken contention that the principles of peacekeeping were somehow incompatible with protecting civilians, Ambassador Lodhi said the the Protection of Civilians mandates have traditionally been implemented by Pakistani peacekeepers while adhering to these principles. “The edifice of peacekeeping is based on these principles, and they continue to be the bedrock on which it rests”, she added.

While agreeing that robust mandates are at times necessitated by the situation on the ground, Ambassador Lodhi said that they also pose practical implementation challenges. “Questions raised fifteen years ago by the Lakhdar Brahimi report about the credibility and achievability of a blanket mandate to protect civilians still await convincing answers”, she added.

Dr. Lodhi told the 15-member Council that Pakistan believes women's participation in peacekeeping operations would help to make them more people-centred and more effective in protecting civilians.

Pakistan emphasized the need for consultations with Troop Contributing Countries at the time of formulation of Protection of Civilians mandates for its better implementation. The Security Council establishes PoC mandates and the use of force in defence of the mandate.

Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi called for collectively ensure that any given peacekeeping mission was provided adequate financial and other necessary resources along with political support to accomplish its assigned tasks. “The conduct of peacekeeping operations needs to be driven by the unique requirements of each mission, not by any political or financial consideration”, she added.

Pakistan, she said, has conscientiously undertaken the task of proactively protecting civilians, when mandated by the Council, including in current Missions in the DRC, Darfur, Cote d’Ivoire, Central African Republic and Liberia.

Arguing for a broader interpretation of the Protection of Civilian mandate, Ambassador Lodhi said that these mandates were primarily interpreted in military terms – the provision of tangible protection under imminent threat. Its scope, she said, should include protection through political action as well as institution and capacity building. “The use of non-military tools such as advocacy, liaison with local communities and building the capacity of national authorities also help to achieve the same objective”, she added.