Make selection of UN peacekeepers more stringent: India

Make selection of UN peacekeepers more stringent: India

United Nations, Dec 7: India has called for making the selection of peacekeepers for UN operations more stringent, emphasising professional competence in order to make them more effective.

“India believes that even while broad participation in peacekeeping is important to enhance global solidarity, there can be no substitute for professional competence of those engaged in all aspects of this global enterprise,” India’s Permanent Representative Syed Akbaruddin told a high-level meeting here on Friday on improving peacekeeping operations.

India, which has historically contributed the most number of troops to UN peacekeeping operations, was one of the sponsors of the event along with the US and four other countries.

Akabaruddin said that there was a need for “minimum operational standards as a benchmark that all contingents meet when deployed” and UN members should collectively work towards establishing them. He conceded that a “diversity in terms of deployment needs is understandable, and some variations are inevitable”.

But he said that the Peacekeeping Capability Readiness System (PCRS) should be the “sole mechanism for the selection of a military or police unit for deployment” and those not a part of the system should be avoided “to ensure that the most ready, capable, well-equipped and willing contingents are selected for deployment”. Even within that system preference should be given to those units at a higher level of readiness when they are available over the others, he said.

Akbaruddin added that troops from countries that do not place caveats that limit how their forces can be deployed should be preferred as they “will not tie down the hands of Force Commander in operational decisions”. While assessing the under-performance of troops, consideration should be given to whether caveats have impacted performance, or it was due to lack of resources, or because the mandate that comes from the Security Council and the guidelines were not clear, he added.

India has taken several steps to improve the performance of peacekeepers by cooperating with other countries, he said. When Indian and Kazhakh peacekeepers were to be deployed in the Lebanon operations, Akbaruddin said that they trained together before leaving.

The US and India partner to conduct the UN Peacekeeping Course for African Partners and India is also undertaking such efforts for partners from Central Asia and the ASEAN, he said. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres proposed a 10-point programme to strengthen peacekeeping operations, which he called “the last, best hope for millions of people around the world”.

His proposals included enhancing intelligence; increasing the number of women peacekeepers, taking steps to reduce fatalities among peacekeepers; and ending critical shortages of equipment like helicopters and medical facilities. US Permanent Representative Kelly Craft, who presided over the event, said there must be greater accountability in peacekeeping operations as poor performance “puts human lives at risk, those of the people the UN is mandated to protect and the peacekeepers sent to protect them”.

At the same time, she said that “there are many examples of outstanding performance” and urged the UN Secretariat “to highlight such examples in regular public reporting”. “After all, member states and taxpayers should know when peacekeepers go above and beyond to fulfil their mandated task,” Craft added.