is undeniable that the world has significantly benefited from peacekeeping
operations, be it from relief missions in times of natural calamities, to
providing support to innocent civilians in war- ravaged states. However, we
certainly can’t deny that these operations have unfortunately, given rise to a
steady pool of criminal acts, committed by the very bastions of hope. Vanu Gopala
menon,the Representative of Singapore in 2004 stated that “People in war-torn
lands see blue helmets and expect their lives to improve”. When any form of abuse,
being sexual, physical or emotional is allowed, it is a total betrayal of
trust. It pains the delegates of Singapore to see a small minority sully the
reputation of the dedicated majority.
Since 1989, Singapore has
actively contributed to international peacekeeping operations. Almost 450
officers have taken part in 11 peacekeeping operations in countries such as
Cambodia, Iraq, Jordan, Namibia, Nepal, South Africa and Timor-Leste. We have always
been involved in various missions, under
UN auspices, maintaining law and order, training of local police to enhance
their operational readiness and building community confidence by engaging the
people. Singapore believes that Strict laws and robust institutions can reduce
wrongdoing, but they cannot prevent it altogether. Hence, Singapore makes it a point to respond
swiftly and decisively to corrupt behaviour. Singapore does not take into
consideration the title of the wrongdoer. In the words of Thomas Fuller: “Be
you ever so high, the law is above you”. In fact, where a wrongdoer is in the
public service, enforcement is likely to be even harsher. There is no use to having
beautiful laws, embodying the noblest ideals, only to do something else in
practice. Elegant constitutions can be easily had, and are not hard to find.
What matters is how the laws apply in practice.
We believe that it is
necessary to evaluate the efficacy of the Organization’s measures and question
whether it had provided itself with the proper tools to root out the problem.
Therefore, special representatives and commanders needed to inform the
units and entities under their commands that such behaviour was intolerable.
Just as a peacekeeper would be held accountable for his or her actions,
commanders and senior staff would also be held accountable for the misconduct
of any personnel under their command. Singapore also urges the Department of
Peacekeeping Operations to analyse that data and evaluate the effectiveness of
the measures after they are introduced. Finally, high standards of conduct and
discipline must be applied to all categories of peacekeeping personnel. A
particular responsibility rested with Member States to train, prepare and hold
accountable members of national contingents, including at the very senior
level. Managers and commanders had the responsibility to create and
maintain an environment that prevented sexual exploitation and abuse and they
must be clearly directed to facilitate investigations and be held accountable
for failures in that regard. He also encouraged troop contributors to
share best practices in their use of United Nations welfare payments aimed at
providing for the recreation of troops.
delegate of Singapore recognizes that these crimes were committed by a small
number of people, their abuse tainted the loyal and professional service of
valued United Nations peacekeepers who put their lives at risk on a daily basis
for others. We would also like to remind any victims that the truth
won’t go away. It will keep surfacing until it is recognized. Truth will
outlast any campaigns mounted against it, no matter how mighty, clever, or
long. It is invincible. It’s only a matter of which generation is willing to
face it and, in so doing, protect future generations from ritual abuse.