UNITED NATIONS, July 7 (Xinhua) -- A Chinese envoy said Tuesday that United Nations peace operations should assist countries' response to COVID-19 to promote and protect people's rights to life and health.
"People are under serious threat of health in countries where health systems are weak, like South Sudan, Mali and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Peacekeeping missions should, within their mandates, assist governments in strengthening capacity building, help the governments and the people of host countries fight the pandemic, put people at the center, and safeguard people's rights to life and health effectively," Zhang Jun, China's permanent representative to the United Nations, told the Security Council's open debate on "Peace Operations and Human Rights."
Recalling that the first UN peacekeeping operation was launched in 1948, the ambassador said that the mandates of UN peacekeeping have been broadened from monitoring ceasefire to comprehensive actions in the political and security fields. "It is now an important instrument for maintaining international peace and enhancing collective security."
"Promotion and protection of human rights is the common ideal of mankind, but it is only possible with peace and stability," the envoy noted.
"As a powerful instrument of the Security Council to maintain international peace and security, the peacekeeping operation has been playing an important role in upholding the rights to subsistence and peace of people in host countries, and created basic conditions for realizing the right to development and other human rights for the people of host countries," he said.
Speaking of the objective of peace operations, Zhang said that it is "to support political settlement of hotspot issues."
"Thus, when the Security Council sets the mandate of peace operations, the priority should be promoting political settlement. Whether human rights protection should be included in the mandate depends on the situation of each mission," he said.
"Taking everything on board without prioritizing would make it hard for peacekeeping operations to achieve their main objective. We can see in Mali and South Sudan that the issue of human rights is not the main reason behind the conflicts. Therefore, peacekeeping missions with human rights mandate should serve, not divert from, the central task. Only by promoting peace process can we make the improvement of human rights possible," said the ambassador.
On the ownership of host countries, Zhang said that the ownership "must be fully respected in the implementation of human rights mandate."
"Human rights situations in different countries are in endless variety. Peacekeeping operations must strictly follow Security Council resolutions, fully communicate with host countries, and respect their unique circumstances. Meanwhile, governments of host countries have the primary responsibility of promoting and protecting human rights," he said.
"Peace operations cannot replace governments nor parties to conflict in doing their job. They should create a favorable environment for relevant parties to promote and protect human rights," said the ambassador.
Zhang noted that peace operations should strengthen prevention and punishment of internal human rights violations.
"Human rights violations by peacekeeping personnel have been reported in recent years, undermining the image of peacekeeping operations and exposing the deficiencies in internal management," he said, adding that "peacekeeping operations, either deployed by the UN or regional organizations, should improve internal management, strengthen discipline, and effectively address and prevent such incidents to avoid negative influences."
Talking about China's contributions, the ambassador said that China is the second largest contributor to UN peacekeeping budget and a major troop contributing country.
Currently, more than 2,500 Chinese peacekeepers are serving in nine mission areas. China attaches great importance to peacekeeping personnel capacity-building. China provides strict pre-deployment training to ensure that peacekeepers better understand and respect local people and culture. Chinese peacekeepers are well-disciplined. They have successfully completed large numbers of peacekeeping tasks, he said.
"Peace, development and human rights are three pillars of the UN and mutually reinforcing. Peace operations have the mission of peace which facilitates development and promotion of human rights. As the first country to sign the UN Charter, China remains true to its original aspiration, and will continue to honor its commitment to multilateralism and contribute more to peacekeeping and the cause of human rights," said Zhang. Enditem