UNSC debate on the key role of strategic communications for efficient peacekeeping
I would like to begin by thanking you for convening this high-level open debate on strategic communications in peacekeeping operations. The choice of topic reflects Brazil’s commitment, and continuing contribution, to United Nations peacekeeping operations. I also thank the Secretary-General, Mr. António Guterres for his statement, as well as USG Jean-Pierre Lacroix and General Marcos De Sá Affonso Da Costa, Force Commander of MONUSCO for the perspectives they have brought to the debate through their briefing. Last, but by no means least, I thank Jenna Russo, Director of Research at the International Peace Institute (IPI) for her additional perspective, which also brings in a gendered dimension.
Today, more than at any other time, peacekeeping is being called upon to deliver outcomes in conflict situations that are ever more complex. Those complex situations include settings where the parties to the conflict either are unwilling to have a political settlement or have no clarity of their political objectives. In addition, peacekeeping has to contend with a growing host of asymmetric and irregular forces whose methods are hate, division, terror and violence.
In such a challenging context, United Nations peacekeeping operations have been caught in the crosshairs of the disinformation propaganda of conflicting parties, in the misinformation efforts of local stakeholders, and in the instrumentalization of hate speech to create distrust among local populations and undermine or complicate the efforts to protect civilian populations. The use of digital technologies has amplified the scope of such negative actions that impede the peace and peace support operations. In too many instances, civilian populations have been attacked because hate speech has been enabled; cooperation required from local communities to protect them have been withheld because disinformation and misinformation campaigns have removed the pillars of trust between peacekeeping missions and suchcommunities; and the safety and security of peacekeeping personnelhave been compromised through disinformation as segments of the population are radicalized against the very troops deployed to assure the safety of their communities.
Ghana is therefore deeply concerned about the significant increase in misinformation, disinformation and hate speech activity (MDH) in peacekeeping settings, especially on the African continent where six (6) of the 12 peacekeeping missions are hosted. The scale of the systematic, synchronized, and orchestrated acts has reached levels that negatively impacts the efforts of the United Nations, shapes the conflict environment, and influences public opinion against United Nations peacekeeping operations. It is in this context, and mindful of the indispensable stabilising role of United Nations peacekeeping operations, that Ghana, a pioneering and major TPCC (Troop and Police Contributing Country) supports all efforts to turbo-charge strategic communications as an important enabler and multiplier for the reduction of violence and the sustenance of peace.
In view of the emerging challenges and the pressing need to build upon the progress since the Brahimi report of the early 2000s and the 2015 outcomes of the High-Level Panel on Peacekeeping Operations as well as the Action for Peacekeeping Plus (A4P+) initiative, Ghana would make four points in support of the further deepening and embedding of strategic communications in peacekeeping missions.
First, strategic communication is a strategic necessity and should continue to remain an integral and core part of peacekeeping. It needs to be reinforced through strong mission leadership as a wholeof-mission approach that cutsthrough the planning, implementation, and evaluation phases of mandate delivery of all missions. Ghana
would therefore support new and additional efforts that will help the United Nations system to review existing policies, and adapt innovative approaches to reinforce and mainstream strategic communications activities into mandated missions.
Secondly, in light of the digital scope and reach of MDH and its growing adverse impact on peacekeeping operations, it is necessary to support and encourage the further deployment of capacity and digital assets for strategic communications, which have a direct impact on the protection of civilians and the advancement of the Women, Peace and Security agenda. We therefore urge continued support for the efforts of the Department of Global Communications to embed capacity in peacekeeping missions, for the effective support of their strategic communication function.
Thirdly, effective strategic communications entail two-way traffic. In addition to the combined use of a wide variety of communication methods, including traditional media, digital platforms/social media, we support the institutionalization of outreach engagements with local communities in mandated missions to sensitize them on the mission’s mandate. Such outreach overcomes any digital divide and facilitates engagement with community leaders, civil society actors, and local authorities and enables key stakeholders and constituents to appreciate mandates.
Fourthly, Ghana believes that, considering the desperatesituation in many peacekeeping context, quick-impact projects offer some of the best opportunities for United Nations peacekeeping missions to convey their commitment to the safety and welfare of the civilian populations they serve. Additional efforts and resources to support such projects should therefore be made in support of the strategic communication functions that are required in peacekeeping missions.
In concluding, my delegation commends the proactive efforts of the Council to find ways to ensure effective communication strategies and appropriate technologies in support of peacekeeping operations. I reiterate Ghana’s unflinching support for any initiative that will enable UN Peacekeeping Missions and Troop and Police Contributing Countries (T/PCCs) to establish appropriate framework and policy guidelines for strategic communication in peacekeeping. How successful we are in addressing the issue of antiUnited Nations propaganda, which encourages attacks against peacekeepers and United Nations personnel in the field, would influence, to a large extent, the continuing battle to uphold the authority of the United Nations and the enduring values of
multilateralism and our Charter.
I thank you for your attention.