India is an “important partner” in the UN strategy for the digital transformation of peacekeeping, the United Nations peacekeeper chief said, hailing the country’s commitment and involvement through key initiatives. how to guarantee accountability for crimes against the Blue Helmets.
India is currently the third largest contributor of uniformed personnel to UN peacekeeping, with more than 6,000 military and police officers deployed in Abyei, the Central African Republic, Cyprus, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lebanon, the Middle East and Western Sahara.
“India is a major player in the world, in the UN, in multilateralism, and it is also a major player in peacekeeping, which includes, among others, the importance of its contribution in terms of troops and police. Also we receive support in many other ways, including in terms of the initiatives we take to improve peacekeeping,” Assistant Secretary General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix told PTI in an exclusive interview.
The UN peacekeeper chief highlighted the “important role” played by peacekeepers from India, a major troop- and police-contributing country to UN peacekeeping.
Lacroix said India’s “commitment and commitment” in support of peace operations is critical, both politically through its contribution and in support of the department’s initiatives.
In addition, he underlined the “role of India in supporting our initiative to ensure that peace operations are up to speed in terms of digital technologies because this is absolutely critical. We have a strategy for the digital transformation of peacekeeping. And India is an important partner in that regard,” he said.
The UN marked 75 years of peacekeeping and commemorated the International Day of UN Peacekeepers on May 29 with this year’s theme “Peace Begins With Me.”
Three Indian peacekeepers, who lost their lives serving under the UN flag last year, were among 103 military, police and civilian peacekeepers posthumously honored with the prestigious Dag Hammarskjld Medal at a solemn ceremony last week.
Border Security Force personnel Police Chiefs Shishupal Singh and Sanwala Ram Vishnoi, who served in the Organization’s Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) and Shaber Taher Ali, who served as a civilian in the Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) received the medal posthumously at UN headquarters on May 25.
Under its Security Council Presidency in August 2021, India, in collaboration with the UN, announced the launch of the UNITE AWARE platform, a “situational awareness software program that enables a Peacekeeping Operations Center to visualize and analyze the situation on the ground in a conflict zone in real time”.
Earlier this year, India deployed a platoon of women peacekeepers to the UN Mission in Abyei, the country’s largest unit of female peacekeepers in a UN mission since 2007, announcing the intention to New Delhi to significantly increase the number of women in peacekeeping contingents.
The platoon is deployed to Abyei as part of the Indian battalion of the United Nations Interim Security Force in Abyei (UNISFA).
Lacroix said that among the initiatives undertaken to improve peacekeeping, it is vital to improve the role and increase the number of women in peacekeeping.
He said he recently visited the base of “our Indian contingent in Abyei”, a camp “designed to welcome” both female and male peacekeepers.
“Having more women in peacekeeping essentially means more effective peacekeeping. We want to be an active player in advancing the UN agenda, in terms of women’s empowerment, in addition, we want to be more representative of the community we serve,” said Lacroix. .
Lacroix called on India and other troop- and police-contributing countries to provide not only more women in the units that are deployed, but also more female candidates for high-level positions in the military, police and civilian arenas.
In December last year, when India was chair of the UNSC, before the end of its term as a non-permanent member, it launched the ‘Group of Friends’ to promote accountability for crimes against peacekeepers, which Lacroix described as “critically important”.
Noting progress in recent years in ensuring that perpetrators of crimes against peacekeepers are brought to justice, he said 72 people had been convicted since 2019.
While this is a positive step, Lacroix said a lot more accountability is needed. “The role of our member states in that regard is critical. Greater accountability for these crimes will mean more security for our peacekeepers. There is a very close bond. This is really one of the top priorities moving forward.”
It expressed concern about attacks against peacekeepers, particularly by armed groups operating in many regions where peacekeepers are deployed.
“So this initiative by India on accountability for crimes against peacekeepers is very important because we absolutely need to move forward in terms of accountability,” the peacekeeper chief said.
Lacroix noted that the environment in which peacekeeping forces carry out their duties is becoming increasingly dangerous.
“The environment in which our peacekeepers operate has become much more dangerous. We are facing new forms of threats, and one of them is fake news and disinformation,” he said, stressing the need to address these threats with more capacity, training. and resources
“We sometimes operate in places where it could be argued that there is no peace to keep, but then the question that always needs to be asked is what is the alternative and what is a fair assessment of what peacekeeping is providing to this population. to these conflict-affected areas,” he said.
Lacroix said the critical challenge facing UN peacekeeping “is political because peacekeeping missions have a political objective, regardless of their mandate, and are much more likely to succeed when peace processes they support are actively supported by our member states and on a path that is united.”
He said it was unfortunate that UN member states “are no longer united. We have a divided international community and a divided Security Council. That has a huge impact on the ability of our peacekeeping missions to achieve their ultimate goal.” , which is and successfully support the peace process and then walk away”.
Praising the critical role of peacekeeping forces, he said: “We have many situations where ceasefires are being protected, and that means that through our peacekeeping forces, we are preventing the resumption of hostilities in many places where we are deployed. Every day, our peacekeepers are protecting hundreds of thousands of civilians.”
More than two million peacekeepers from 125 countries have served in 71 operations around the world in the past 75 years. Today, 87,000 women and men serve in 12 conflict zones in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East.
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