Representatives from nearly 80 countries and organisations gathered this week in Vancouver, in order to discuss UN peacekeeping missions, their associated challenges, gaps in capability, and new solutions.
As Estonia is the current holder of the Presidency of the European Council, Minister of Defence Jüri Luik represented the European Union at the UN Peacekeeping Defence Ministerial Conference and participated in a discussion that focused on early warnings and the possibility of the UN to react more efficiently to crisis situations.
At the discussion, Minister of Defence Luik noted that a shared priority of the European Union and UN is rapidly responding in crises areas, and this is precisely something that the European Union can contribute to. “The peace keeping operation to the Central African Republic can be cited as an example of cooperation, where the European Union began to provide support to the area following the escalation in crisis, and the mission was later handed over to the UN,” said Luik.
It was recognised at the conference that, in connection with the changing security situation in the world the nature of peace keeping is also changing, and reactions to crisis situations must be faster and more efficient.
One solution for reducing gaps in UN capabilities and making peace keeping missions more efficient is greater cooperation by Member States, in the framework of which the states have the opportunity to provide manageable contributions.
At the conference, several Member States announced that they will be increasing their contributions to UN peace keeping missions in the areas of military transport and early warnings, as well as training.
“One of the challenges facing the UN is the extensive bureaucracy, which makes it difficult to react to crisis situations quickly and flexibly. It is also clear that crises do not arise out of thin air, and that the UN must deal more with the root causes, in order to prevent the escalation of crises’, said Jüri Luik.
Another important topic at the conference was the protecting of civilians in crisis areas and the greater inclusion of female peacekeepers in missions, to help combat the problem of violence directed towards women in crisis areas.
An emphasis was also placed on the need to adopt the use of new technologies and improve early warning systems in order to protect the peacekeeping units themselves.
Minister of Defence Jüri Luik met in Vancouver with the defence ministers of Rwanda, Zambia, Tanzania, Uganda and Ghana, in order to discuss Estonia's membership campaign for the UN Security Council for 2020–2021.
The Minister of Defence is also participating this week in a security forum, taking place in Halifax, Canada, where he will be discussing cyber security.