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Welcome Remarks by Ambassador Sujan R. Chinoy at MP-IDSA Seminar on ‘India and UN Peacekeeping – An Appraisal’

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  • Amb. Sujan R. Chinoy
    October 01, 2021

    General Nambiar, Ambassador Nambiar, Friends, good morning.

    It gives me great pleasure to welcome you all to today’s webinar on the theme “India and UN Peacekeeping – An Appraisal”. It is rare to have two brothers, who, between them, have dominated the military and diplomatic aspects of peace-keeping at the UN.

    The UN Charter emphasises the international community's determination to collectively strive for peace. Collective peace has remained an elusive goal. Ethno-nationalism, over-lapping notions of sovereignty and the creation of new borders in the process of de-colonisation and independence movements have compounded the difficulties. The decades of the Cold War, even Marxist movements, created proxy interests in many emerging nations of Asia and Africa.

    Since the mandate for all peace-keeping operations is approved by the UN Security Council, it is an unquestionable fact of life that the permanent members of the UNSC play a disproportionate role in determining the range and scope of any peace-keeping mission. Most peacekeeping operations (PKOs) are themselves a compromise between the great powers that wield veto powers. Where core interests are involved, great powers have also resorted to direct action first, acting singly or in tandem with like-minded allies, followed by an ex-post facto sanction by the UNSC. The US entry into the Korean War in 1950, led by General MacArthur, is one example, where the Mission evolved in quick time to become a US-led UN force. In the case of Iraq, former UNSG Kofi Annan is on record having stated that the US intervention was illegal since it was not mandated by the UN.

    Just as there is a division in the world between haves and have-nots, there is also a class consciousness of sorts in the world of Peace Keeping Operations. Great powers are prone to resorting to action under Chapter 7 of the Charter, authorising the use of force for peace enforcement in line with their interests. The NATO/ISAF mission in Afghanistan is also an example. The UN mission in the former Yugoslavia, UNPROFOR, which was headed by General Satish Nambiar, started out primarily with a mandate under Chapter 6 for the peaceful settlement of disputes but soon took on Chapter 7 attributes in Bosnia where ethnic cleansing was at its peak.

    Great powers have often sought to use UN Peace Keeping Operations to suit their interests. In recent years, Pakistan, with China’s help, has tried to rake up the J&K issue at the UN, particularly after the abrogation of Article 370. It sought the doubling of the strength of UNMOGIP, itself a mission that has long outlived its utility as a monitoring force for the cease-fire line in J&K. The Simla Agreement and the replacement of the CFL by the Line of Control should have seen the end of UNMOGIP, but vested interests have ensured that it continues in the absence of any sunset clause in the mission. UNMOGIP’s limited mandate renders it incapable of monitoring the terrorist havens on the Pakistani side of the LoC or preventing cross-border infiltration. Nor is it capable of preventing frequent ceasefire violations. Since we do not report cease-fire violations to the UNMOGIP nor allow it to monitor the situation on our side of the LoC, whereas Pakistan does, the report presented by the UNSG on UNMOGIP is always skewed.

    The GoI has rightly taken various steps asking the UNMOGIP to vacate government properties in India, which had earlier been provided free of charge. Action has also been taken to monetise various other facilities that were earlier being provided free of cost to the UNMOGIP.

    The primary objective of peacekeeping is to assist countries torn by conflict to create conditions for lasting peace. Peacekeeping derives its strength from global legitimacy, burden sharing and the ability to mobilise military and police from around the globe. Since the UN’s inception, a million individuals from more than 125 countries have served in 71 peacekeeping operations.

    India has been a founding-member of the United Nations and one of the first and largest contributors to the UN for maintaining international peace and security. India has contributed more than a quarter million troops and participated in more than 49 missions, from Korea to Congo to South Sudan. 174 Indian peacekeepers have made the supreme sacrifice. In keeping with this tradition, today, there are more than 5,000 Indian personnel deployed across nine missions.

    Indian peacekeepers have been praised for their professionalism and friendly approach even in the most challenging situations. Yet, peace-keepers from developing countries have historically been discriminated against when it comes to compensation, especially for deaths in the line of duty.

    The COVID pandemic has brought about new challenges. As a reflection of India’s commitment to ‘Protecting the Protectors’, India had donated two lakh doses of COVID-19 vaccine for UN Peacekeeping personnel in March this year.

    Traditional and non-traditional security threats also impact peace-keeping operations. The spectre of terrorism continues to challenge peace and prosperity.

    As a non-permanent member of the UNSC, India has taken the lead in assimilating technology in peace-keeping operations to better enable the UN peacekeepers to meet contemporary threats. The four point framework outlined by India in August this year under India’s Presidency of UNSC involves developing and strengthening mobile digital platforms, early warning responses, communication networks and training capabilities.

    India, in collaboration with the UN, has also rolled out the UNITE AWARE Platform, a situational awareness software that allows a Peacekeeping Operations Centre to visualise and analyse the ground situation in a conflict zone on a real time basis. India also plays an important role in training peace-keepers.

    It was under India’s Presidency of UNSC in August that the Council adopted a resolution on ‘Accountability of Crimes against UN Peacekeepers’ as well as a Presidential Statement on ‘Technology for Peacekeeping’, the first such UNSC document on this theme.

    To discuss these issues, we have with us a distinguished set of panellists with rich personal experience in UN peace-keeping operations.

    I now request Lt. Gen. Satish Nambiar to deliver the inaugural remarks.

    Thank you.