The Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations, also known by its acronym, C34, is one of the General Assembly’s tools for overseeing peacekeeping operations authorized by the Security Council. C34 was first authorized in 1964 with resolution A/RES/2006(XIX) in response to early concerns about the scope, mandate, and rules of engagement of peacekeeping operations. Each year, the organization meets at the UN Headquarters to prepare the Report of the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations, an expansive review of the state of peacekeeping operations around the world and the shared successes and challenges between them. Whereas other committees may review one peacekeeping operation at a time, C34’s mandate rises above any individual mission and works to preserve the integrity of peacekeeping missions.
Topic A: The Impact of Peacekeeping Operations on the Environment
In 2016, a report found that UN Peacekeepers account for half of greenhouse gas emissions of all UN functions. Two years later, in October 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report stating that the global average temperature could increase by only another 1.5 degrees Celsius without risking catastrophic consequences from climate change. To stay under this limit, the net amount of human-caused emissions must reach zero by 2050. Greenhouse gases released from peacekeeping camps and fleet aircraft used to manage operations can cause both air and soil pollution in the surrounding regions. The activities of peacekeepers also have a negative effect on arid regions like Sudan and Mali, taking up vital water sources and scarce food supply. In 2011, a UN peacekeeping mission involving 27,000 personnel were in competition with local farmers in Darfur, which ultimately led UNAMID to budget construction for 106 wastewater treatment plants to avoid an escalation of the conflict. In 2016, the UN released five objectives to move toward. These included using clean energy on peacekeeping missions, managing wastewater and solid waste effectively, analyzing the wider impact of peacekeeping operations on the local environment, and developing larger infrastructure and systems to manage the wider impact on the environment. This committee will discuss how UN peacekeeping missions can best achieve those goals.
Topic B: Civilian and Government Relations with Peacekeepers in Africa
Of the 14 currently active United Nations peacekeeping operations, seven are based in Africa. Many of these missions have featured significant casualties among both civilians and peacekeepers. In 2017, following years of high casualty rates, 71 peacekeeping personnel were killed on duty, the highest number ever recorded in one year. These deaths occurred mostly among the African missions. Peacekeeping missions have also been heavily criticized by African governments, the public, and non-governmental organizations alike for their perceived lack of progress and abuse of power. Amnesty International has said that UN peacekeepers in the Central African Republic lacked enough training and resources to sufficiently protect civilians. Government officials of the countries with active missions have also been heavily critical of the operations. There have also been widespread cases of African women and children being exploited by peacekeepers in return for the basic necessities that are meant to be distributed freely. Improving the relationships between peacekeepers and those whom they are meant to be serving is critical to the success of these missions.