“As a leading Troop Contributing Country (TCC), India has searched for practical ideas that will help bridge the gap between our promise of ‘never again’ and levels of effectiveness,” Minister of State for External Affairs M.J. Akbar said while inaugurating the first UN Peacekeeping Course for African Partners (Unpcap-I), the first such programme to be held jointly by India and the US.
“Our answer lies in the way we train our peacekeepers. Better training for UN peacekeepers will almost always ensure better outcomes, no matter how difficult or complex the peace operation,” Akbar said.
The programme, which will run from July 25 to August 12, is a collaboration between the Centre for UN Peacekeeping (CUNPK), New Delhi, and the US government’s Global Peace Operations Initiative.
Akbar said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced at the Peacekeeping Summit last September at the UN, and also at the India Africa Forum Summit last October, that India would do whatever it could to share its peacekeeping experience with others and in particular with countries in Africa.
“The CUNPK established for this purpose. Today’s unique training collaboration between India, Africa and the United States mirrors this commitment.”
Akbar said that present generation of UN peacekeepers confronted security challenges “that are far more dangerous and complicated than faced by their immediate predecessors”.
“Experience has taught us that the effectiveness of UN peacekeepers depends critically on the consent that exists for their presence on the ground,” he said.
“It also depends on the perception that UN peacekeepers will always act in an impartial and neutral manner; they will not use military force to change the facts on the ground in favour of one or the other but, if attacked, will respond with the full collective force of the international community.”
The minister said that as a country that has participated in close to 50 peacekeeping operations, India believed there was need for greater consultation between the UN Security Council and TCCs.
“This is no longer an option; it is an urgent imperative. Troop Contributing Countries should and must be consulted, not just because Article 44 of the UN Charter says so, but because TCCs with their commanders and personnel deployed on the ground can provide valuable inputs to the Security Council when it draws up mandates, or when it translates mandates into implementable peacekeeping objectives,” he stated.
He said it was time to pay more attention to the manner in which UN Security Council mandates were drawn up.
“Mandates must recognise ground realities. A peacekeeping mission’s strategic goals must be laid down in clear and precise terms, and only after taking realistic stock of the resources should we make a commitment,” Akbar said.
Stating that credibility was core necessity, he said if it was taken away, any institution, however large, would become “nothing more than a skeleton without a living heartbeat”.