China, 40 plus countries launches Group of Friends on Safety and Security of UN Peacekeepers

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Photo taken on Sept. 14, 2020 shows the outside view of the United Nations headquarters in New York, the United States. [Photo/Xinhua]

The Group of Friends on the Safety and Security of United Nations Peacekeepers was launched on Tuesday, under the joint initiative of China, Brazil, Indonesia and Rwanda.

The Group of Friends, which brings together 49 countries and regional organizations, provides a platform to strengthen information sharing, policy coordination, and capacity building so as to make substantive progress in enhancing the safety and security of UN peacekeepers, according to Zhang Jun, China's permanent representative to the United Nations.

UN peacekeeping operations are a major instrument for maintaining international peace and security, and peacekeepers are valuable assets for international peace. Over the past 70 years, more than 3,000 peacekeepers from over 120 countries have lost their lives, Zhang said at the virtual launch ceremony.

Threats of regional hot issues, ethnic conflicts, terrorism, and improvised explosive devices, together with COVID-19, are posing higher security risks to peacekeepers. So far this year, 49 peacekeepers have lost their lives. Keeping peacekeepers safe is a systematic project that depends on the participation of all parties, he said.

Zhang expressed the hope that the Group of Friends will carry out in-depth studies on new issues and challenges, raise awareness and promote common understanding on the issues among member states through the Security Council, the General Assembly and other platforms.

"Ensuring the safety and security of peacekeepers requires not only policy guidance, but also practical action. Only by translating the consensus of member states into concrete action on the ground can we achieve real results. The Group of Friends will promote the exchange of experience and case studies among member states to develop best practices and resolve difficult issues in the implementation process," he said.

The participants spoke highly of China's leadership in establishing the Group of Friends, saying that the safety and security of UN peacekeepers is an urgent issue, and that China's efforts to promote the safety and security of peacekeepers demonstrate its tangible support for multilateralism and the work of the United Nations.

The participants reaffirmed their commitment to improving the safety and security of peacekeepers and stressed that they will actively participate in the activities of the Group of Friends.

China has been a builder of world peace and a contributor to UN peacekeeping operations. It is the second-largest contributor to the UN peacekeeping budget and the largest troop contributor among the permanent members of the Security Council. Currently, more than 2,500 Chinese peacekeepers are serving in eight missions.

China attaches great importance to the safety and security of peacekeepers. It has provided security and safety training for peacekeepers from many countries and funded the UN Secretariat in carrying out relevant projects and studies. China has also decided to donate 300,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines to peacekeepers. China's initiative spurred the Security Council to adopt the first resolution on the safety and security of peacekeepers last year.

More than 150 guests attended the virtual event, including UN Undersecretary-General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Undersecretary-General for Safety and Security Gilles Michaud, Assistant Secretary-General for Support Operations Lisa Buttenheim, ambassadors, military advisers and officials from members of the Group of Friends and other relevant delegations.

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