UN Peacekeeping Forces Fatalities

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    Context

    • The UN Undersecretary General reported a growing number of fatalities among United Nations Peacekeeping Forces (UNPKF) in direct attacks.

    About

    • Growing Threat: Two BSF jawans died in a spate of attacks on United Nations Peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) amidst anti­-UN protests.
    • UN Peacekeeping fatalities due to malicious acts (not illness or accidents) are rising from 13 in 2020 to 25 in 2021 and to 26 till August 2022. 
    • Tour Agenda: The UN Peacekeeping chief has kept the issues of growing fatalities and the lack of clear mandates for the ‘blue helmets’ at the top of the agenda as part of a tour to India, Pakistan, the UAE and Japan. 

    Reasons for rising attacks

    • Deteriorating political and security environments in which peacekeeping operations are mandated. Such a situation in DRC does not entail the political lead conflict resolution. 
    • Terrorist or criminal groups threat: In the big operations in Africa, the efforts to establish peace and stability is threatened by terrorist or criminal groups favoring chaotic environment. 
    • Lack of participation in decision making: India having lost 179 peacekeepers over the past 60 years has criticized peacekeeping operations for not giving adequate say to  troops and police contributing countries in the kind of missions they participate in.
    • Gap in mandate and practice: The mandate is actually for UN peacekeeping, on the ground in foreign missions the mandate changes to peace enforcing for which the forces are not trained. 
    • Peacekeeping limitations: Peacekeeping is neither a war, nor peace enforcement; thereby limiting the scope and potential of peacekeeping operations.

    UN Peacekeeping Forces

    • Genesis: The first UN peacekeeping mission was established in May 1948. The UN Security Council authorized the deployment of a small number of UN military observers to the Middle East. 
    • It was meant to form the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) and monitor the Armistice Agreement between Israel and its Arab neighbors.
    • Strength of numbers: Since its genesis, more than 1 million men and women have served under the UN flag in more than 70 UN peacekeeping operations. 
    • Also, more than 1,00,000 military, police and civilian personnel from 125 countries are currently serving in 14 peacekeeping operations.
    • A symbol of hope and peace: UN Peacekeepers have been maintaining peace for some of the world’s most vulnerable people. Their service and sacrifice and operation under harsh and dangerous conditions has made the Blue Helmet a symbol of hope to millions of people worldwide.
    • A multidimensional role: 
    • Initially, UN Peacekeeping’s goals were limited to maintaining ceasefires and stabilizing situations on the ground to aid in the political resolution of the conflict by peaceful means. 
    • Those missions consisted of military observers and lightly armed troops with monitoring, reporting and confidence-building roles in support of ceasefires and limited peace agreements. 
    • In addition to the above roles, today’s peacekeeping operations also facilitate the political processes, protect civilians, disarm combatants, support elections, protect and promote human rights and restore the rule of law.
    • Demography
    • Most of the peacekeepers are serving in the military or police.
    • 14 % are civilians serving as the civilian leadership of the mission, working in the areas of political and civil affairs, human rights, elections, strategic communications, IT, logistics, transport and administration etc.
    • Women peacekeepers are playing an increasingly prominent role while serving as police officers, troops, pilots, military observers, and other uniformed and civilian posts, including in command positions.

    Way Forward

    • The UN should devise a framework to improve the geographical diversity of troops and police contributing countries. 
    • Efforts should be stepped up to make peacekeepers better equipped, trained and prepared. 
    • There is a need for robust mandates that require proactive peacekeepers with the ability to face and counter armed groups. 
    • India’s proposed 10-point plan for more accountability to protect UN peacekeepers should be considered by the UN. 
    • Crimes against peacekeepers should be treated as war crimes. 
    • The UN should consider India’s suggestion to build a memorial wall to honor the peacekeepers .

    Source: TH