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‘Peacekeepers must reinvent themselves to face new challenges’

United Nations

United Nations : With the UN peacekeeping arena facing several challenges from intra-ethnic conflicts to terrorist-related attacks, India has said there is a need for all peacekeepers to “reinvent” themselves with new tools to tackle these issues.

“There has been a need for all peacekeeping missions to adjust to the reality which we face. Peacekeepers have to literally reinvent themselves with new tools to tackle these issues,” Indian Ambassador to the UN Syed Akbaruddin said in his remarks at the Opening Session of Annual Debate of the United Nations Special Committee for Peacekeeping Operations.

“India has been at the forefront of peacekeeping activities,” he said, adding, “As a country which has participated in 48 UN peacekeeping operations, we have contributed our share to the maintenance of international peace and security with high standards of professionalism that our troops are known for.”

Acknowledging that the landscape of peacekeeping operations has changed drastically in the last few decades, he said the peacekeepers are deployed in areas where there are challenges that were hitherto unknown.

“These include threats from intra-ethnic conflicts to terrorist related attacks,” he added.

“We as one of the most active contributors in UNPKOs (United Nations Peacekeeping Operations) do realise the change that faces us and are more than willing to add new tools in the skill sets of our troops to face these challenges in a more robust fashion,” he said.

As many as 163 Indian peacekeepers have died while serving the UN, he said stressing that many a time careful planning and also consultative dialogue of Security Council members and the troop contributing countries, while formulating the mandate of UNPKOs, will go a long way in promoting safety and security of peacekeepers.

“Here we would also like to strongly emphasise that all Member States where PKOs are deployed must ensure that in cases of attacks on the peacekeepers there is an effective process to prosecute, punish and penalise the perpetrators of the attacks,” Akbaruddin said.

Appalled by the recent cases of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (SEA) which have surfaced in some of the UNPKOs, Akbaruddin said, “We have a zero tolerance policy on SEA cases and  would like that there is zero tolerance on such issues across the UN too.”

During the special open session of the peacekeeping committee, member countries said that the United Nations peace operations must keep pace with and respond to new and evolving challenges — including asymmetric warfare, cyber threats and pandemics.

Atul Khar, the US Under-Secretary-General for Field Support, said the international community should redouble efforts to support peacekeeping operations, particularly the missions in the most dangerous theatres of operation.

Jan Eliasson, the UN Deputy Secretary-General, said the changing nature of conflict has put pressure on the international community.

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