New York, 7 May 2019
Photo: Twitter (@Portugal_UN)
Thank you Mr. President,
Portugal aligns itself with the statement delivered by the European Union and I would like to add some remarks on my national capacity.
Let me begin by congratulating you for convening this Open Debate, that provides a valuable opportunity for the Security Council to take stock of resolution 2436 and address some of the commitments and pledges made during the recent UN Peacekeeping Ministerial.
Recent years have demonstrated that peacekeeping missions are operating in an ever more challenging security environments. But this cannot weaken our collective responsibility to ensure that UN peacekeepers are deployed with the highest assurances to their safety in the fulfilment of their mandates.
Unfortunately, the last ten years of UN peacekeeping have been particularly tragic as the number of fatalities has been exceedingly high.
In this regard, efforts taken by the UN and Member-states throughout 2018 to improve the safety of peacekeepers have achieved an important reduction in the number of fatalities last year. We hope these efforts continue with the goal of achieving a zero-fatality rate.
The UN Secretary-General's "Action for Peacekeeping" Initiative and the Joint Declaration of Shared Commitments are further evidence of our commitment toward enhancing the impact of peacekeeping, which depends greatly on the training of peacekeepers.
As a Troop and Police Contributing Country, Portugal sees training as a top priority due to its direct impact not only in the safety of our peacekeepers and of the missions we participate in, but also in the conduct and fulfilment of mandated tasks.
That is why our military and police personnel meet the highest standards of training, which includes modules in international humanitarian law and international human rights law, focusing also in areas such as Rules of Engagement, Protection of Civilians and Sexual Exploitation and Abuse. We also invest in pre-deployment and in-mission training to ensure our uniformed contingents have the tools to operate in their specific areas of deployment.
I would like to draw special attention to the role of our female troops in MINUSCA, where they are performing combat roles in a very volatile and demanding security environment. We stand ready to share our experience and best practices as we find ways to increase the number and role of women in peacekeeping in light of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda and the Uniformed Gender Parity Strategy. In this context, Portugal is committed to working with the Department of Peace Operations on the possibility of organizing mixed training courses on capacity and leadership, with 50/50 gender parity attendance.
Another positive experience that is worth mentioning is our participation in MINUSMA (together with Belgium, Denmark, and Norway), where we have implemented the Transport Aviation Unit rotational concept, a clear case of good cooperation among UN Members, in order to articulate our needs and capacities, in a structured and coordinated way.
Looking ahead, we believe the Santos Cruz Report provides the most comprehensive set of recommendations to promote the training, and thus the safety and security, of peacekeepers. One of its main virtues consists in identifying ways for the Secretariat and Member-states to integrate policies in different areas, including medical, improvised explosive devices and technological solutions. Such synergies could go a long way in improving the safety and performance of all peacekeepers.
Finally, we are ready and willing to share our experience and lessons learned, namely by assisting in the training of contingents from other TCC & PCC countries.
In this regard, and particularly in the framework of our defense cooperation with members of the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries (CPLP), we have been exploring ways in which our collective accumulated knowledge can constitute a deliverable to improve safety and performance of United Nations Peacekeepers.
I thank you.