by Xinhua writer Wang Jiangang
The United Nations (UN) peacekeeping chief on Tuesday expressed appreciation for China’s contributions to UN peacekeeping operations, emphasizing China’s vital role in these efforts.
“China is very important to us,” UN Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix told Xinhua in a recent exclusive interview.
“We very much value the contribution of China to peacekeeping,” he said. “We have a very strong relationship with China.”
The 2023 UN Peacekeeping Ministerial Meeting is set to occur in Accra, Ghana, on Dec. 5-6.
As a permanent member of the Security Council, China stands as the second-largest financial contributor to UN peacekeeping operations.
Lacroix acknowledged China as a key player in peacekeeping, noting its significant role not only through the deployment of troops and uniformed personnel but also as “an important supporter to the various initiatives that we took to improve the impact and effectiveness of peacekeeping.”
The UN peacekeeping chief highlighted China’s capabilities in peacekeeping, stating China has a very “strong capacity” in the area of technology and those specific skill sets.
“There are many specific and sophisticated skill sets which are increasingly important to peacekeeping,” he added.
Lacroix underscored that the partnership with countries like China “will be tremendously important because we need the support of China politically,” adding “We very much look forward to working with China to make sure that we will be well-equipped” to tackle challenges facing UN peacekeeping operations.
Speaking about the challenges, Lacroix highlighted the “political challenges” facing the UN peacekeeping operations. He explained that political efforts “receive less support and certainly less united support than before,” as “we have a divided Security Council, we have a divided membership.”
“We’re also facing challenges such as the proliferation of armed groups,” he said. “Many of these groups lack a political agenda, being more involved in transnational criminal activities and terrorism, making it much more challenging to engage in political discussions with them.”
Highlighting the need for vigilance, he warned that the attacks against civilians and peacekeepers “have also become much more sophisticated, because of the use of new technologies.”
“We have taken a number of initiatives to improve the safety and security of our peacekeepers,” he said, adding that they are improving the peacekeepers’ ability to use digital technology, and also to fight false information. “I believe that all these initiatives cannot be carried out without the full partnership of member states,” he said.
Lacroix praised China for its “leading role” regarding the safety and security of the peacekeepers.
Discussing peacekeeping in Africa, Lacroix highlighted the continent’s significant contribution to UN operations and the importance of recognizing this role. He emphasized addressing the root causes of African conflicts, including climate change and illegal resource exploitation and called for “new models” of peace operations to effectively tackle these challenges.
The peacekeeping chief noted progress in women’s participation in peacekeeping, with women constituting 30 percent of individual police officers and around 20 percent of military officers and members in foreign police units.
He emphasized the need for more women in senior military positions and an improved work environment for women, advocating for more effective measures to remove barriers to women in peacekeeping.
Discussing the upcoming ministerial meeting, Lacroix emphasized key expectations, starting with “a recommitment, a political recommitment from our member states to peacekeeping.”
Furthermore, Lacroix expressed his desire to see the discussion of “new ideas and new avenues” to more effectively tackle the challenges.
“We have shared with the member states a long list of what we expect from them, the pledges that we expect from them, and we very much look forward to hearing from them in Accra,” he said.