General Assembly General Assembly

Mr. Chairman,

Thank you for giving me the floor. We associate ourselves with the statement delivered by Morocco on behalf of the Non Aligned Movement. 

Mr. Chairman,

Peacekeeping is the flagship activity of the United Nations.  Blue helmets have tirelessly worked and fearlessly risked their lives in pursuance of the efforts of the United Nations to keep peace and our collective security.

These operations, however, are increasingly beset with serious challenges.  The growing complexity and the rapidly changing nature of conflict pose many structural challenges, while several other chronic problems are of our own making.  

The Report of the High Level Independent Panel on Peacekeeping Operations (HIPPO) and the Secretary General's Report on the Implementation of the same, call for an urgent reform and a change of mindset of the UN system and the decision makers.  However, nearly two years later, tangible progress in the implementation of the recommendations of both these reports is still awaited.  

This Special Committee is uniquely positioned to evaluate the state of play, the constraints that UN peacekeeping faces and to recommend the way forward.  

Mr. Chairman,

Almost all theatres of UN peacekeeping operations are in situations of intra-state armed conflict that are causing much wider instability in an ever more inter-connected world. Non-state actors, including terror groups that are networked across the world, are major players in many of these conflicts. These pose complex challenges to any peacekeeping operations.  Nearly 82,000 of a total of the 84,000 UN peacekeeping troops are currently deployed in 8 such missions out of a total of 16 UN missions. 

As the Secretary General's Report A/71/587 has noted, several UN peacekeeping missions have struggled during the last year in the context of a weak or absent political process, and that ultimately, securing and sustaining host government consent requires an investment of collective political capital by the Security Council. 

The primacy of politics and the need for regular consultations between the Council, the troop contributing nations and the Secretariat for improved mandate designing and implementation have been well recognized, including in the HIPPO Report.  

The Report of the Secretary General also acknowledges that meeting capability requirements for hostile, asymmetric environments remained a significant challenge and that systemic and political challenges need to be addressed to fulfil their protection of civilians mandates. These need to be pursued with seriousness.

Mr. Chairman, 

Large scale violence against civilians continued to pose serious threat in some of missions making protection of civilians an issue of concern and much debate this past year.  All peacekeeping efforts are intended to protect civilians. Indian peacekeepers have been at the forefront of such efforts since the 1960s in various missions. However, as the Report of Secretary General notes, while there is often a humanitarian imperative to protect, peacekeepers cannot replace efforts to resolve conflict, which require sustained political engagement. 

At the same time, there is also a drastic increase in the incidence and intensity of targeted attacks against UN peacekeepers. The Secretary General's Report notes the doubling of such attacks over the past one year period. The fatality figures for UN peacekeepers have also increased sharply.  

Nearly 70% of such incidents are IED and direct attacks. The Report notes that many such attacks are becoming more lethal and devastating than ever before. The preparedness in terms of medical evacuation have also been found wanting in MONUSCO, where 32 of Indian troops suffered injuries in an IED blast. 

It is incumbent upon us to do our utmost to improve the safety and security of our peacekeepers by countering the IED and other threats and provide adequate facilities for medical attention and evacuation in all missions. Such attacks are often triggered by the conduct of offensive operations by the peacekeepers. 

Implementation of robust mandates is a complex task with serious inherent risks and less than certain outcomes, while possibly impacting the perceived impartiality of the United Nations.  Robust operations also carry serious risk of unintended collateral harm. 

We acknowledge the requirement of rapidly deployable capability in certain contexts and are assisting the UN in this regard, but the clarity of robust mandates and the resources including unimpeachable information required for such flexible offensive operations in a fast changing scenario are difficult to achieve. 

Mr. Chairman,

The use of appropriate peacekeeping situational awareness is essential to assist the implementation of mandates and welcome the efforts to develop a policy framework on this sensitive issue. 

We believe that the use of modern technological tools is essential to complement human-based information for improving the situational awareness for the effectiveness of peacekeeping operations. This should be done with appropriate safeguards that address the genuine concerns of the hosts and the neighbouring member states. 

We welcome the prioritization of environmental management in peacekeeping missions by the Secretariat as also the focus on energy, waste and water management to enhance operational efficiency and reducing environment footprint. The UN must lead by example in this regard.  

The incidents of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (SEA) have not only scarred the victims of such abuse but also the UN's credibility. Peacekeepers turning into predators, is the worst nightmare come true.  We firmly support the zero tolerance policy against such crimes. 

Mr. Chairman,

Since the previous meeting of this committee last year, India has continued to engage actively on various aspects related to peacekeeping. 

India participated at the London Ministerial conference on Peacekeeping last September and at the first ever UN Chiefs of Police Summit in June. India was the first country to contribute to the Secretary General's Trust Fund for the Victims of the Sexual Exploitation and Abuse. India hosted a special training course for women peacekeepers as another peacekeeping training course for African partners jointly with the US government. We are working to improve gender balance in our contribution to UN peacekeeping. India participated in the field visit by the Study Group organized by this Committee to Mali and Liberia and engaged actively at the Working Group meeting on Contingent Owned Equipment held last month. 

As the largest cumulative troop contributor, having provided almost 200,000 troops in nearly 50 of the 71 peacekeeping missions mandated over the past six decades including 13 of the current 16 missions, and having lost 168 troops in these operations, India is deeply conscious of the complexities involved in the response of the international community to conflict situations.

We look forward to working with partners in this committee to improve our guidance on making UN peacekeeping operations more effective and efficient, while strictly observing the principles enshrined in the UN Charter. 

Mr. Chairman,

Military interventions, though seemingly relatively easier to implement, are by themselves unlikely to lead to sustained peace.  There are UN peacekeeping operations that have been going on for decades.  Over a longer term, helping countries build democratic institutions and work towards sustainable development remains essential in building and sustaining peace.

Thank You.