Delivered by H.E. Lana Nusseibeh, Permanent Representative
I would like to thank Brazil for organizing this open debate on such an important and innovative topic, and your personal championship of this topic foreign minister. I also thank the Secretary-General for his briefing and sharing efforts to integrate strategic communications in all areas of work of the UN as well as the excellent briefers Lieutenant General Marcos de Sá Affonso da Costa, MONUSCO Force Commander and Ms. Jenna Russo, Director of Research at IPI for their comprehensive briefings.
Strategic communications are undeniably a key component of peacekeeping. When skillfully used, they are a powerful tool that helps connect peace operations with all stakeholders, amplify constructive messages, address misinformation and disinformation, and contribute to the safety and security of UN personnel. Effective strategic communications can also enhance information-sharing, which in turn improves the implementation of mandates. But perhaps the most meaningful impact of strategic communications is that they give the opportunity for local communities to directly engage with peacekeeping missions, thereby strengthening local ownership of peace efforts, and therefore their sustainability. In these critical ways, strategic communications can maximize the impact of peacekeeping.
We must keep in mind that developing effective strategic communications in peacekeeping begins with the Security Council. As Council members, we have the responsibility of ensuring that all missions’ mandates outline clear objectives and provide missions with the assets needed to develop effective strategic communications.
In this regard, the UAE would like to highlight the following elements:
First, the Council must treat strategic communications not only as an element central to the planning of peacekeeping operations, but to the Council’s own work. Efforts to adapt Council messaging to local contexts and make sure that it is understood clearly can significantly improve the Council’s ability to bring about positive change on the issues on its agenda. Also, press statements and Council outcomes, particularly those responding to local dynamics, should be systematically translated into local languages.
Second, the Council and the UN should address the pernicious effects of disinformation and misinformation campaigns against peace operations. The targeting of UN peacekeepers does not happen in a vacuum and it is not just the result of the actions of terrorist groups. It is often the direct result of a hostile environment that spreads misinformation and disinformation about peacekeeping missions. Troop- and police-contributing countries are making important sacrifices to deliver mandates. Our responsibility is to ensure their protection.
And third, peacekeeping requires strong collaboration with the communities they serve to achieve effective outcomes. Two-way communication is essential to ensure that missions are not simply sharing information with local communities but also being informed by them. To this end, the Council must ensure that peacekeeping personnel are regularly engaging with host governments, local partners and civil society at large to better understand and tailor peacekeeping approaches to local dynamics and to different audiences. Additionally, leadership of peacekeeping missions must integrate strategic communications within their work on mandated tasks such as the protection of civilians, strategies for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, support to the women, peace and security agenda, or responses to sexual and gender-based violence. This includes ensuring that accountability is upheld for acts of sexual exploitation and abuse, and that peacekeepers are held to the highest standards of accountability by the UN.
We welcome the fact that these links are increasingly being established in UN policies and guidance for peace operations, and encourage further efforts on this front. In doing so, peacekeeping missions also need to ensure there is a gender-responsive approach to all strategic communications, or to use Ms Russo’s terminology, to employ a gender transformative approach through narratives and context-relevant story-telling.
From inception to conclusion, strategic communications can help create conditions for a more efficient implementation of peacekeeping mandates. They can also contribute to a successful transition by minimizing the impact of a mission’s withdrawal. The UAE firmly believes that, when correctly leveraged, strategic communications can act as an enabler for peace.
I thank you, Mr. President.