The Netherlands to help UN missions to protect civilians more effectively

The Kingdom of the Netherlands is to train African and European military and civilian leaders of UN missions to protect civilians more effectively in conflicts in Africa. The United States and Rwanda will also be involved in these efforts.

The Netherlands is to hold a conference on the subject in 2016. It will follow up on a summit convened by President Obama in the margins of the UN General Assembly in New York last Monday, about strengthening UN peacekeeping missions. Prime Minister Mark Rutte was one of the speakers at the summit, which was co-hosted by the Netherlands at the request of the United States.

The protection of civilians during war and other conflicts is a major priority for both the UN and the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The training is aimed at helping UN troops to protect civilians more effectively, for example by improving cooperation between military, civilian and police personnel in UN missions. A political declaration was presented in Rwanda earlier this year, with Dutch and other support, on the importance of effective protection of civilians during missions. The principles of the declaration will form the basis of the conference.

The Netherlands also helps in other ways to strengthen UN missions, which increasingly operate in complex and dangerous settings. Good information is essential, so the Netherlands will help the UN to develop its intelligence capabilities for future peace operations. Conflicts are increasing around the world and demand for UN peace missions is growing. This is one reason why missions need to be more effective, in the view of foreign minister Bert Koenders, who also took part in President Obama’s summit.

Since 2013 the Netherlands has been making a major contribution to the intelligence activities of the UN mission in Mali (MINUSMA). The intention is to share the lessons learned there with other countries that are currently involved in UN missions, or likely to participate in the future. The Ministry of Defence is organising an expert meeting for this purpose in 2016. During the recent New York summit, the Netherlands also announced that it would extend its involvement in Mali until the end of 2016.

The Netherlands is also making a one-off contribution of €500,000 to the UN to enable faster and more targeted requests to contribute troops and other capabilities needed for its missions. The Netherlands attaches great value to these missions, because the UN is often the only organisation authorised to intervene in conflict situations. Since 1947 the Netherlands has contributed to over 60 UN-mandated missions in at least 30 countries, deploying more than 125,000 men and women.