Allow me to thank Under Secretary-General Jean Marie-Guéhenno for his perceptive remarks and his insight into the ever more complex and diverse tasks and obligations of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations.
We can certainly share his observations;
- that increasing demand for peacekeeping is one of the few predictable facts of our business at the United Nations,
- that these demands exceed what the UN by itself, or any other organization, regional or sub-regional, can meet - and,
- that the complexity of post-conflict transitions means that the operations increasingly take on the form of peace-building as well as peace-keeping.
We must therefore continue to “expect the unexpected” and the UN must increasingly draw upon the resources and experiences of other organizations in strategic partnerships.
Iceland’s commitment to UN peacekeeping is clear from its high per capita financial contributions both to the regular budget of the UN and to the assessed budget for peacekeeping operations. In addition, Iceland, without a military, has recently increased its activities in the field of peacekeeping operations through establishment of the Icelandic Crisis Response Unit (ICRU) which is entirely civilian based.
The Icelandic Response Unit has deployed medical professionals and police officers with peacekeeping missions in the Balkans. Our main operations are now at Kabul International Airport, as part of ISAF which is in support of UN resolutions on Afghanistan – as well as in the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) in Sri Lanka, a Norwegian led Nordic mission established to oversee the cease-fire between the Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil, Eelam (LTTE). We also are present in Sarajevo with the European Union Police Mission and we supply a specialist to the UNIFEM project in Kosovo. From early October 2002 to April this year our main operation was running Pristina Airport in Kosovo under the auspices of KFOR.
ICRU participates in election observation missions, mainly in cooperation with the OSCE and as a matter of fact, a few of its inspectors are at present in the Ukraine, monitoring the presidential elections.
ICRU is also the official liaison point with Landsbjörg’s International Rescue Team in Reykjavik, which is a specialised unit allied with the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Geneva and a member of the International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INASRAG) This year the team has been deployed to Morocco following the earthquakes early this year and previously both to Turkey and Algiers following earthquakes, with which Iceland is familiar.
We strongly agree that the safety of peacekeeping personnel, both that of the UN and others, is of paramount concern and measures must be taken to ensure their safety. We strongly condemn vicious attacks on peacekeeping personnel such as the one last Saturday when a group of Icelandic peacekeepers was the target of a suicide bomber in Kabul. Three of the Icelanders were injured in the attack along with numerous bystanders, two of whom were killed in the attack along with the bomber. I want to use this opportunity to express my governments’ sincere condolences to the families of the innocent victims of this brutal assault.
Iceland supports the observations and policy recommendations made in the introductory remarks by Under Secretary-General Mr. Jean Maire-Guéhenno and in the statement given by the Netherlands on behalf of the European Union.
While preventing armed conflicts continues to be one of the major goals of the United Nations, it is clear that resolving conflicts and building lasting peace are essential elements in the prevention of further conflict.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.