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Blue helmets deserve best security possible, says new UN peacekeeping chief

13 October 2011 – The new United Nations peacekeeping chief today stressed the need to ensure the safety of the more than 120,000 personnel serving in missions worldwide and to equip them to carry out their vital and often dangerous tasks.

Hervé Ladsous, the new Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, told a news conference in New York that the killing just days ago of three peacekeepers serving with the UN-African Union force in Darfur (UNAMID) highlights the difficult and hostile environments in which the world body has to operate.

“We have to invest as much as possible to offer our peacekeepers the best security we can achieve for them,” he said, adding that this will be a priority for him as he sets out in his new job.

The seasoned French diplomat was tapped by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon last month to oversee the world body’s efforts to help maintain peace and security. He takes the helm of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) at a time when demand for UN-led peacekeeping is at an all-time high, with over 120,000 peacekeepers, including 98,000 uniformed military personnel, serving in 16 operations on four continents.

UN personnel continue to face risks in carrying out their duties, as evidenced by the fact that 86 peacekeepers have lost their lives so far this year, 29 of them civilians.

Mr. Ladsous lauded the courage and talents of UN peacekeepers around the world, while stressing the need to give them the protection they need, the equipment to do their jobs – including up-to-date communications and assets such as helicopters – and the skills and knowledge required to carry out increasingly complex mandates.

Nowadays peacekeepers are tasked with more than just restoring stability, and their mandates include human rights monitoring, electoral assistance and the protection of women and children.

“We must also continue investing in their skills, in their knowledge,” said Mr. Ladsous. “Peacekeepers nowadays have very complicated mandates, very complex, very specialized… we need to give them all the means to face these challenges.”

He also highlighted the priority he intends to give to partnerships and to working with governments, troop contributors, regional organizations, the peacekeepers themselves and members of the UN family – including the agencies, funds and programmes – to fulfil the mandates given to the world body.

“I want to listen to [all stakeholders] with the goal of trying to achieve the mission which is entrusted to us by the Charter – promoting peace, stability, human rights and help all those that we can help around the globe who have suffered, who have had their lives shattered by conflict, [and] help them regain hope and build something solid for the years to come,” he said.

Mr. Ladsous also announced that his first trip as Under-Secretary-General will be to visit Sudan and South Sudan.

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