Statement by Ambassador Byrne Nason at UNSC Open Debate on Technology and Peacekeeping
Statement19 August 2021
Thank you Minister Jaishankar,
Mr President, I want to thank India for organising this important discussion and welcome the adoption of a Presidential Statement on this issue.
Ireland shares with India a deep and longstanding commitment to peacekeeping. Irish and Indian troops proudly serve side by side in UNIFIL and UNDOF in the noble service of humanity.
For all peacekeeping nations, the safety and security of our peacekeepers is paramount. When lives are lost, there can be no impunity for those responsible. For this reason, we also very much welcome the adoption this morning of the resolution on Addressing Impunity of Crimes Against Peacekeepers which we are very pleased to co-sponsor.
As others have said this morning the risks our peacekeepers face are wide ranging and they constantly evolving: from IEDs to complex attacks to drone technology. Effectively addressing these threats requires consideration of the safety and security of peacekeepers right throughout the mission cycle - from inception to transition.
Indeed, we know now that the period of reconfiguration and transition of peacekeeping missions heightens the risk of threats to both peacekeepers and to civilians.
Ensuring that transitions are properly managed coordinated and organised helps to significantly reduce those risks. This is a priority for Ireland on the Council and we look forward to hosting a Ministerial Level meeting on this during our upcoming Presidency in September.
We have learned through bitter experience that technologies can be used to destabilise or exacerbate conflict. We also know technology offers offer valuable assistance in equipping and resourcing peacekeepers in peacekeeping operations and in fulfilling mission mandates. How we harness and manage new technologies is crucial.
As you pointed out minister Enhancing situational awareness and early warning mechanisms in missions that can improve decision-making for the protection of UN personnel and the protection of civilians is essential.
Technology can also play an important role as a force multiplier. It has the potential to offer UN peacekeepers greater situational awareness, improved data analysis, and thereby improve the safety and security of missions while also increasing their effectiveness, this is also particularly true also with regards to protection of civilians. UNITAD is a good example of how innovative technologies can be used effectively.
We therefore welcome the Strategy for the Digital Transformation of UN Peacekeeping which supports the use of technology across the Action for Peacekeeping themes, including performance, safety and security, politics, protection, and peacebuilding.
In order to maximise the opportunities of technology, peacekeeping missions need to be adequately resourced. Training must also be designed to leverage the capabilities of technology.
While gaps can arise in the levels of equipment and training available to peacekeepers, it is imperative that - at a minimum - all Troop Contributing Countries have equal access to self-protection technologies that support their critical safety and security. This includes through improving situational awareness and early warning, including through artificial intelligence.
We recognise the particular importance of unarmed, unmanned aerial vehicles, while emphasising that their use must always be in compliance with international law and respect the core principles and values of the United Nations.
Clearly our much valued peacekeepers should not be playing catch-up when it comes to new technologies. Armed groups are becoming ever more innovative in their use of emerging technology. In response, we must share valuable insights and we need to be equally innovative in how we mitigate this threat. This includes examining how armed groups exploit the accessibility of information and technology. Here, effective export controls are crucial.
Recognising the growing importance of technologies and their risks to international peace and security means that we must stay ahead of the curve through innovations in multilateral diplomacy and digital development to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
To do this we need greater cooperation and engagement with regional organisations, private sector, and civil society in order to responsibly develop and use technologies.
We need to ensure literally that no one is left behind as technology advances. In particular, we need to technology that is ‘gender transformative’, not ‘gender blind’. The correct use of technology to support peacekeepers can be an enabling factor in support of improving the proportion of women peacekeepers, an aim I know we all share at this table.
As a country with a long-standing record of contributing to peacekeeping missions, Ireland is committed to continuing to share our experience and help build capacity with others to develop and use critical technology to ensure the safety and security of our peacekeepers.
Thank you once again Minister.