“Protecting the Protectors: Technology and Peacekeeping”
Joint Nordic statement at the Security Council Open Debate
delivered by Jukka Salovaara, Permanent Representative of Finland
New York, 18 August 2021
On behalf of the Nordic countries – Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Finland – I wish to thank India for raising this important topic on the Security Council’s agenda. The Nordics are strong supporters of the Secretary-General’s Action for Peacekeeping initiative, and we welcome the strengthened focus to integrate new technologies in the field, in the context of peacekeeping.
The Nordic countries have been steadfast contributors to UN peacekeeping since its very beginning. The safety of our peacekeepers remains a fundamental priority for us, as it is also a prerequisite for fulfilling the core task and mandate of peacekeeping; namely, to maintain international peace and security and to protect the local populations from conflict and violence.
Responsible, effective and sustainable peacekeeping relies on our ability to protect the protectors.
Integrating new technologies in peacekeeping operations is imperative in order to respond to the emerging threats and challenges of today’s operating environments. Technology can significantly increase the mission’s safety and security through, for example; better situational awareness, improved readiness, and enhanced field support, including medical and logistical support, and countering the threats posed by mines and improvised explosive devises. In this regard, it is essential to focus efforts and funding on new technologies to improve early warning systems.
New technologies yield significant opportunities, they can increase effectiveness and bring savings. At the same time, their introduction must be field-focused, predictable and driven by the practical needs of the end users on the ground. And they must be matched with improved capacity and training, especially as increased use of new technologies may also create new risks for Missions including as vectors for hybrid threats. We, Member States have a shared responsibility to ensure, that the resources and capabilities match the requirements of today’s needs.
New (digital) technologies have proven their value in protection of civilians and ensuring accountability, including in preventing conflict related sexual violence and bringing perpetrators to justice. The use of digital technologies must be in compliance with international law, including international humanitarian law and human rights law. In this context, it is particularly important to follow the ‘do no harm principle’ and to take gender-aspects into account. Norms of responsible state behavior provide important guidance for states in relation to the use of digital technologies.
Climate change and environmental degradation are widely recognized as threat multipliers and, in many cases, drivers of conflict. Therefore, it is of utmost importance, that sustainable and responsible solutions are employed throughout all operations and mandate delivery. The Nordic countries encourage utilization of new technology in peacekeeping contexts in order to reduce the missions’ environmental footprint and, where possible, to improve the health, safety and security of local communities as well as UN personnel. The Nordics encourage the inclusion of climate-related security risks in the analyses of country and regional level conflicts.
The Secretary-General’s Roadmap for Digital Cooperation and the UN Digital Toolkit in peace mediation context, have provided a useful framework and recommendations for integrating new technologies even more comprehensively into the agendas of the United Nations. We also welcome the UN’s new Strategy for the Digital Transformation in Peacekeeping
Looking ahead to the UN peacekeeping ministerial in Soul later this year, the Nordic countries look forward to contributing to this discussion even more in the context of UN peacekeeping.