Vienna, 17 May 2010 – “The UN has had to heavily extend its peacekeeping operations over the past decade. In order to be able to meet the challenges involved we need global peacekeeping partnerships which will also ensure the better protection of civilians than has been afforded so far,” stated Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger in his speech at the International Peace Institute’s 40th Seminar, which is being attended by high-ranking politicians, diplomats, the military and academics from Austria and abroad.
The three-day event focuses on improved co-operation between the United Nations and the countries deploying troops as well as between the UN and its most important regional partners in international crisis management. On the margins of the seminar the Foreign Minister also met with UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Alain Le Roy, and the Secretary General of the King Faisal Centre for Research and Islamic Studies, Prince Turki Al-Faisal. The bilateral talks centred on the future of UN peacekeeping operations in Chad and in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as on the situation in the Middle East.
“Since 1960, Austria has participated in more than 80 international peacekeeping operations and humanitarian missions all over the world, and dispatched some 90,000 soldiers. This commitment constitutes one of the pillars of our pro-active membership of the United Nations. We must not lessen this commitment,” continued Spindelegger. Currently a member of the UN Security Council, Austria bears special responsibility for peace and security.
“Global partnerships for peacekeeping need reliable regional partners. The comparative advantage of regional organisations such as the EU, the African Union, NATO and the OSCE lies in their knowledge of certain hotspots and their special abilities to manage regional crisis situations,” affirmed Spindelegger, adding that “smooth co-operation and co-ordination between the UN Security Council, the UN Secretariat and the countries dispatching troops are basic preconditions for the success and credibility of peacekeeping operations. The successful transition in Chad from EU mission to a UN mission is exemplary for a forward-looking partnership between the UN and the EU.”
A peacekeeping partnership also requires intensified co-operation in protecting civilian populations. “The protection of civilians has developed into an important yardstick in assessing the success of peacekeeping missions. Crisis management in the context of EU, NATO and African Union missions must therefore also give priority to protection tasks. The protection of civilians from violence and the observance of human rights and international humanitarian law are major concerns of ours,” concluded Spindelegger. Consequently, Austria will continue to consistently advocate implementation of Security Council Resolution 1894.
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