Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
I am glad to have this opportunity to personally welcome you all to Helsinki to the annual conference of International Association of Peacekeeping Training Centres. I am grateful that you have accepted our invitation to the conference.
United Nations peacekeeping is a success story in many ways. Over the decades, peacekeeping operations have made a great difference in all parts of the world. At the moment 100 000 UN peacekeepers are working for peace and security around the world.
Finland has been involved in these efforts since the early days of UN peacekeeping, and we are committed to continuing – and increasing – our contribution. Our peacekeeping history dates back to 1950s to Suez crisis. Since then Finnish troops, over 50 000 men and women, have participated in numerous UN missions. The Finnish contribution in the Middle East increased recently as we returned to the UNIFIL operation and some 170 Finnish peacekeepers were deployed to Lebanon. Finland is also currently considering whether we could later increase our contribution to the operation by taking the role as the lead nation for the Irish-Finnish Battalion.
In UN peace operations, we have an extremely valuable and important instrument in our hands. The challenge today is to adapt this instrument so that it can most effectively respond to the changing environment and the new complexities of crises situations. Nowadays, most peacekeeping operations have a broad mandate with tasks ranging from protecting civilians, assisting
in inclusive political processes and supporting rule of law and assisting in security sector reform.
The United Nations is not alone in dealing with this huge task. Partnerships have become more and more important factor for the success of peace operations. In recent years, strategic partnerships between the UN and regional organizations have become extremely important, as we have seen for instance, in Darfur, where the United Nations and the African Union joined their forces in 2007 by establishing the joint operation in Darfur (UNAMID). As this and many other examples have shown, enhanced cooperation with partners helps to maximize the collective impact. Further strengthening of partnerships with regional organizations and civil society organizations is a key priority.
As an EU Member State, Finland supports the strengthening of cooperation between the EU and the UN. Enhanced coordination and synergies should be sought, for example, in the Horn of Africa, where both the UN and the EU are present. In the Horn of Africa region the EU is already working closely together with the UN and the African Union through the EUNAVFOR/Atalanta operation against piracy and the EUTM training mission training Somali security forces in Uganda. A new EU civilian crisis management mission has been established for regional maritime capacity building of Africa (EUCAP Nestor). While cooperation is already taking place on different levels, there is certainly still room for further intensifying this cooperation.
Finland´s approach is based on a notion of comprehensive security combining civil and military activities, looking at the conflict cycle holistically from conflict prevention to long-term development. Not only soldiers and police are needed, but also engineers, human rights experts, gender advisers, doctors and lawyers. Finland has been a forerunner in developing civilian capacities. Annually around 130 Finnish civilian experts are sent to conflict areas to support peacekeeping and peacebuilding efforts and around 40 % of them are women.
Finland contributes to strengthening of both military and civilian capacities by sharing our experience and knowledge from training and offering support to capacity building. The first peacekeeping centre in the world was established in Finland in 1969, today called FINCENT. FINCENT organizes United Nations Observer Courses and to this date, some 4500 military observers have been trained there.
FINCENT and its civilian counterpart Crisis Management Centre (CMC), which are in charge of organizing this event, organize joint civil-military courses, seminars and publications with an aim to create wider culture of cooperation and enhance effectiveness on the ground. Bringing different actors to the same learning environment is cost-effective and one way of implementing comprehensiveness in training.
As the environment of peacekeeping and peacebuilding evolves, training faces new challenges. Hybrid operations between organisations, integrated civil-military operations as well as political missions working on conflict resolution require new skills. Training should thus be seen as a vital tool to improve effectiveness and impact of missions and operations on the ground.
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
Finland actively promotes Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security. Finland has recently published its second National Action Plan for the implementation of resolution 1325 for the years 2012-2016. Our first 1325 National Action Plan helped us to increase the participation of women in crisis management operations, and approximately 40 % of Finnish civilian experts are currently women. We are also engaged in twinning cooperation with partner countries Afghanistan, Kenya and Nepal.
At the tenth anniversary of Security Council resolution 1325 on women, peace and security, the Department of Peace-keeping Operations commissioned a study to assess the implementation of the resolution in peacekeeping mandates. The report reached a mixed verdict and provided a number of recommendations. I would like to draw attention in particular to the recommendations aimed at increasing women`s participation in peace negotiations and in political processes. Finland is highly committed to these goals. We are doing this for instance through the Group of Friends of Mediation, established together with Turkey in 2010.
Afghanistan is at a critical juncture in this respect. As the world redefines its role in Afghanistan, it is of utmost importance to remain focused on gender issues. The Executive Director of UN Women, Michelle Bachelet, has noted the following: as the peace and reconciliation process evolves, as the ISAF draws down and as more and more parties are encouraged to come to the negotiating table, Afghan women are seeing that the pace of change as regards women’s issues has not only slowed down, but in some ways gone into reverse. She noted that early-warning indicators are there, but not yet heard.
We have to ensure that Afghan women are engaged, that their voices are heard and their perspectives are taken into account in the peace and reconciliation process. Each of us can contribute to this by ensuring that when we are discussing the future involvement in Afghanistan, women´s issues are at the heart of the agenda, not a footnote.
These will be themes that Finland will promote, should we be elected to UN Security Council. Finland is applying for a membership in the UN Security Council for the period 2013-14. This would give us an opportunity to give our full contribution to international peace and security.