It was a surreal experience for Group Captain Jarrod Pendlebury to sit at the horseshoe table dominating the centre of the room at the United Nations (UN) Security Council in New York.
Group Captain Pendlebury, Defence Attache to the UN New York, delivered a statement on behalf of Australia, joining a very small group of ADF members to have addressed the world’s pre-eminent security institution.
The topic of the debate – the importance of strategic communication in peacekeeping – had strong links with Defence priorities, and Group Captain Pendlebury was offered the opportunity to give Australia’s national statement.
In his remarks, Group Captain Pendlebury advocated for the effective use of strategic communication as a tool to maintain the UN’s visibility in the information space, supported its use to raise awareness of a mission’s mandate and underscored its importance in pre-deployment peacekeeping training.
“We join with all stakeholders in peace processes to better understand how false narratives are used to inflame conflict,” he said.
“We strongly urge action to help peacekeeping missions better identify and counter these tools of conflict, thereby reducing the risk of violence to peacekeepers and civilians.”
Group Captain Pendlebury said this was an example of the value of bringing a Defence Force perspective to an international forum like the UN.
“There’s a difference in the perspective that a uniformed person brings to the debate as distinct from our foreign affairs colleagues,” he said.
Representation at the Security Council was also a chance to highlight the work International Policy Division – through Post New York – does with the UN, which Group Captain Pendlebury said was helping shift the narrative on what constitutes a valuable contribution to the peacekeeping enterprise.
He highlighted Australia’s work in helping create peacekeeping reform initiatives, for example, through assisting the UN with achieving its aims in digital transformation and developing a culture of innovation through the establishment of an innovation hub in the Department of Peace Operations.
This Australian-led initiative has the potential to significantly reshape the future of UN peacekeeping, resulting in better operational outcomes and improved safety and security.
In addition, the UN’s Department of Peace Operations has asked Australia to lead work in the development of a concept of ‘air power’ for the UN, drawing on Air Force’s deep experience in producing air and space power theory and doctrine.
Group Captain Pendlebury hoped the opportunity to represent Australia at the Security Council as a uniformed ADF member showed the range of opportunities that international engagement positions can offer.
“I’m hoping to build excitement and focus for people coming up through the ranks, and give them an idea of the opportunities that exist for ADF members to have influence on the global stage,” he said.
“Every day, Defence’s international engagement network helps shape the future of the international system and contribute to global peace and security.
“I would – with hand on heart – say it was a career highlight to sit at that table in the UN Security Council where so many monumental global decisions have been made.”