Consult nations before setting up peace missions: India to UN

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    Jan 21, 2014
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    Consult nations before setting up peace missions: India to UN

    United Nations: India has recommended that consultations be held with troop contributing countries before a peacekeeping mission is established since the soldiers risk their lives for the UN and know the ground situation better.

    Participating in a UN Security Council debate on 'Protection of civilians in armed conflict - implementation of protection mandates in UN Peacekeeping operations,' Indian envoy to the UN Asoke Mukerji said consultation, including between the UNSC and the Troop Contributing Countries about the peacekeeping mandates and their interpretation is essential.

    "The Troop Contributing Countries (TCCs) put at risk the lives of their soldiers in the service of the UN. Strikingly more than many members of the Council who hold the primary responsibility in this regard.

    TCCs know the situation on the ground better than most, as they are in daily touch with developments and can on the basis of practical experience advise on what needs to be done. Their advice will be sound, objective and unbiased. It can serve the Council well," he said.

    Mukerji stressed that consultations be held whenever there is a change in situation on the ground as the TCCs are the first to know that "things are going wrong".

    Consultations must be held before the UNSC changes a mandate since TCCs are often the only ones who can properly advise if a change is needed, if what the Council has in mind will make matters worse or better, and whether it can be done militarily with the resources available.

    "TCCs must know, and accept in advance, material changes to the terms and conditions under which they committed their troops. It is important for the TCCs, also because their Governments, Parliaments and their people, want to know why their soldiers have been sent into situations not anticipated when the UN's request for forces was accepted," he said.

    Mukerji added India's involvement as a peacekeeping contributing country in Congo or South Sudan continues to be shaped by public opinion in the country.

    "We hear in the corridors of this building that the mandate of United Nations Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) is going to change. We have not been told. But, those who wield the pen would know," he said.

    Mukerji said India recognises that suffering of civilians is an "emotive issue" but solutions to the problems of war should be based on fact and also on pragmatism.

    "Despite the attention the subject has received from the Council, civilians continue to bear the brunt of today's armed conflicts... We also need to take cognisance of the grim conclusion that dispatching foreign troops does not automatically protect the civilian population," he added.

    He also questioned if a robust mandate automatically translates into protection of civilians as he cited the example of 40 Indian peacekeepers heavily outnumbered in an attack last December when two thousand armed youth attacked the UN base in South Sudan that was providing protection to Dinka refugees.

    The Indian soldiers had superior fire power and a robust mandate which would have allowed them to use force, not just in self-defence, but also in defence of the mission. However had they opened fire, hundreds of lives would have been lost.

    "Would those lives have been civilian or combatant? And the troops who availed their superior fire power. Would they have been peacekeepers or war makers," he said.

    "These are real life situations. They are known to those who have boots on the ground. And, to those who give up their lives in defence of the highest ideals of the UN," he added.


    First Published: Thursday, February 13, 2014, 22:35
    W.G.Ewald likes this.

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