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Speech Given by Mr. Nicholas Rosellini at the Opening Ceremony of United Nations Military Observers Course

Speech at the Opening Ceremony of United Nations Military Observers Course

Mr. Nicholas Rosellini, UN Resident Coordinator

Peacekeeping Center, Ministry of Defense

4 September 2017



Dear, Sr. Col. Nan Ning, Deputy Director General of Peacekeeping Affairs Office of Ministry of National Defense of China,


Distinguished Instructors and Trainees,


Good morning!


I am honored to return to the Peacekeeping Center for the second time in my capacity as UN Resident Coordinator.


We are gathered today not only to officially commence a new UN military course, but also to celebrate our common values of peace and security for all.


As one of the four main purposes set forth in the UN Charter, maintaining worldwide peace and security can only be achieved through concerted efforts by Member States. The crucial role of peacekeeping is and will remain the backbone of UN operations. Furthermore, ensuring the continuity of peace in areas plagued by conflict is a prerequisite to any significant political, social and economic development.


As of June 2017, the total number of UN Peacekeeping personnel amounted to around 112,000, which includes troops, military observers, civilian personnel and volunteers serving in 15 operations worldwide[1]. This is a decrease compared to previous years. There are several factors contributing to this decrease. Among others it is the result of peacekeeping missions having been successfully completed in recent years, but it illustrates the progress of on-going reforms under the leadership of Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to further strengthening performance management and accountability, as well as to increase efficiency of peacekeeping operations[2]. At the same time, the nature of conflicts is changing, and with tensions on the rise in many regions in the world, there is an ever-present danger of armed hostilities. The UN must therefore stand ready to act as mediators upon the calling of Member States.


In recent years, UN peacekeeping has faced challenges and setbacks. Allegations of abuse of power, corruption and ineffectiveness
[3] [4] continue to cast shadows over its prestige and integrity. The actions of a few individuals have besmirched the efforts of tens of thousands. We must do more to improve the behaviors of peacekeepers and officials in charge to ensure the highest standards of conduct.


It is only through increased multilateral cooperation and strengthening of partnerships that we may overcome internal obstacles, as well as to further improve the effectiveness of peacekeeping operations.

In this regard, China’s active role and major contributions to the operations are the manifestation of international cooperation. Apart from its status as the largest contributor of military and civilian personnel among the five permanent members, a title held since March 2004, China is also the second largest contributor to the peacekeeping budget[5]. In a speech to the General Assembly in 2015, President Xi Jinping pledged to commit a total of 8,000 peacekeeping troops for a stand-by force. This amounts to an increase of more than 200% in China’s current troop commitment[6]. China currently participates in ten peacekeeping operations. 18 Chinese personnel have made the ultimate sacrifice in their service to humanity.


This very venue, the Peacekeeping Center, is a testament to China’s growing engagement and the importance it attaches to international peacekeeping. Established in 2009 with strong support from the Ministry of Defense, the center is the first of its kind in China dedicated solely to the training of UN peacekeeping personnel. It has since conducted exchanges and cooperation with more than 80 countries and 10 international and regional organizations.[7]


Military observers are responsible for monitoring and reporting on the military situation in their area of responsibility, as well as investigating and documenting alleged violations of ceasefires or other military arrangements. Depending on specific circumstances and mandate, military observers may partake in special tasks such as disarming and demobilizing belligerent forces or assisting special election teams.


This course is tailored to suit the wide variety of crucial tasks you will all take once in the field. Courses include doctrinal training in handling media relations, logistics, HIV, as well as hands-on training such as weapons and equipment recognition, negotiation, and radio procedures. Furthermore, with participants coming from more than a dozen nations[8], you will be engaged in international cooperation and exchanges.


I am confident that, by the end of this course, all of you will be well-equipped in performing your duties. I would like to thank you for your dedication to help the UN in fulfilling its mandate for peace and security for all.


On behalf of the UN System in China, I would like to thank the Ministry of Defense for organizing this event. I look forward to continued cooperation and deepening of ties.


Thank you!



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