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  • UN Peacekeeping in Democratic Republic of the Congo, 2003–2010: An Operational Perspective for Air Power Employment

    Air power has played a critical role in counter-insurgency and irregular warfare across the world. India’s own rich experience is full of documented roles of air power in such campaigns. This article documents the unique experience of Indian air power in ‘robust’ peacekeeping under the United Nations (UN) flag in Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2003– 2010. A modelling is attempted to understand doctrinal and conceptual issues of this experience. Lessons are gleaned to improve air power’s effectiveness in such less-than-war situations.

    April-June 2021

    A Conceptual Framework for Assessing Traditional Peace Operations

    Despite decades of experience in peace operations, most United Nations (UN) operations have faced serious criticism for being unable to implement the mandate. At the same time, while the UN is in the process of establishing a clear framework for performance evaluation, as of now, there are no standard criteria to judge the performance of a peace operation. Therefore, it will be unfair to make only the peace operation missions accountable because of their inability to implement the mandate.

    October-December 2019

    United Nations Peacekeeping Challenge: The Importance of the Integrated Approach, by Anna Powles et al.

    The nature of the United Nations (UN) peacekeeping operations has evolved considerably since 1948. Most contemporary conflict zones are full of violence, resulting in a large number of civilian casualties. So much so, that even the peacekeepers have now become major targets of violence and asymmetric threats.

    October 2016

    UNIFIL: The Many Challenges of Successful Peacekeeping

    Nations from the developed world have rarely participated in complex and difficult UN peacekeeping operations (PKOs) while those from the developing world have rich peacekeeping experience. The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) is a rare exception among peacekeeping missions as it includes peacekeepers from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), along with Western military involvement. NATO members’ involvement in UNIFIL resulted in unusual structures and operational philosophy, and adjusting and adapting to this was difficult for non-Western participants.

    July 2016

    The Past, Present and Future of the ‘Liberal Peace’

    The stunted and stumbling progress of the ‘liberal peace’ philosophy since 1990 tells a complex story. In this article, I give a history of the liberal peace project from its academic and activist origins to today’s global application, discussing how policymakers and liberal peace architects see liberal peacebuilding, and how emerging powers such as India and China relate to these goals.

    July 2014

    P. Pawan asked: Why is India seeking to restructure the 1950 Treaty of Peace and Friendship with Nepal? What are the specific areas that require revision and what is Nepal's take on this issue?

    S.D. Muni replies: It is not India but Nepal that has been seeking revision of the 1950 Treaty for the past almost five decades. India is only responding by stating that it is ready to consider Nepal’s proposal to revise the Treaty.

    Surendra Sawant asked: India since 1947 had three major wars with its neighbours but of these only two (1965 & 1971) were followed by a peace agreement. Why none after the 1962 war?

    Rup Narayan Das replies: After the 1962 war, diplomatic relationship between the two countries was re-established in 1976, when K.R. Narayanan, who later became president of India, was appointed India’s ambassador to China. A major breakthrough in the bilateral relationship was the visit of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, during which a Joint Working Group (JWG) was established to resolve the boundary issue. However, the real breakthrough came in 1993, when the two countries signed the Agreement on the Maintenance of Peace and Tranquility along the Line of Actual Control in the India-China Border Areas. Significantly, the Agreement stipulated provisions as under:

    “The two sides are of the view that the India-China boundary question shall be resolved through peaceful and friendly consultations. Neither side shall use or threaten to use force against the other by any means. Pending an ultimate solution to the boundary question between the two countries, the two sides shall strictly respect and observe the Line of Actual Control between the two sides.”

    This was the first major Confidence Building Measure (CBM) between the two countries. It also provided the procedural and institutional mechanism to deal with border incursions on either side of the LAC. This CBM was followed by CBMs in 1996 and 2005. The CBMs have been working reasonably well. As far as the border dispute is concerned, the two countries have held Special Representatives Talks since 2003. So far eighteen rounds of talks have been held. From the Indian side, it is the National Security Adviser who is the Special Representative, and from the Chinese side, it is their State Councilor.

    Posted on May 26, 2014

    Interventions: A Life in War and Peace

    Post-Cold War structural change (from bipolar to unipolar) brought about by the demise of the Soviet Union, redefined the role and responsibilities of the United Nations (UN). The constraints imposed by the Cold War rivalry in the UN were removed. On one hand, it ensured the smooth functioning of the UN, but on the other hand, state failure and civil strife posed challenges and provided new opportunities as well. At this crucial juncture, fortunately, the UN was led by qualified secretaries-general: Boutros Boutros Ghali (1992–1996) and his successor Kofi Annan (1997–2006).

    November 2013

    Rohit asked: What measures could be taken to increase the effectiveness of peacekeeping operations? How to prevent peacekeeping operations from being used as a political tool?

    Satish Nambiar replies: The essence of the answer to the first query can be found in Chapter 24 of my book: “For the Honour of India: A History of Indian Peacekeeping”, Centre for Armed Forces Historical Research, the United Service Institution of India, New Delhi, Lancer, May 2009.

    As for the second query, the use of peacekeeping as a political tool can only be prevented by reforming the UN Security Council to reflect the realities of the international situation as it is today in the second decade of the 21st century.

    The Peacemakers: India and the Quest for One World by Manu Bhagavan

    There have been several accounts of India's engagement with the United Nations but this book focuses particularly on the idea of One World, something greater than the UN. The need for a potent peace constituency amidst the increasing number of conflict zones with transnational and global impacts bolsters the rationale for an efficient global governing body, One World reified. The book has six chapters with a short prologue and epilogue. Manu Bhagavan presents a fine historical account of India's efforts for One World.

    January 2013