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United Nations Mandates for Peacekeeping

Context

  • UN Peacekeeping fatalities due to malicious acts (not illness or accidents), which were previously on the decline, are now on the rise, rising from 13 in 2020 to 25 in 2021 and as many as 26 this year through August.
  • In light of this, UN Peacekeeping chief Jean-Pierre Lacroix has stated that peacekeeping soldiers require a more robust or proactive mandate, as well as better equipment.
    • This is necessary to address deteriorating conditions in countries where UN Peacekeepers are stationed.

Relevance

GS Paper 2: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

Mains Question

‘There is little doubt that the United Nations’ social, economic, and humanitarian work has been far more successful than its peacekeeping role.’ Examine the reliability of this verdict on the United Nations Organization’s work. (150 Words)


United Nations Peacekeeping

  • The UN Charter assigns primary responsibility for international peace and security to the Security Council
  • In carrying out this responsibility, the Council may establish a UN peacekeeping mission.

Mandates for peacekeeping

  • UN peacekeeping operations are carried out in accordance with UN Security Council mandates.
  • These mandates vary depending on the nature of the conflict and the specific challenges that it presents.
  • Peace operations may be required to do the following, depending on their mandate:
    • Deploy to prevent conflict from erupting or from spreading across borders;
    • After a cease-fire, stabilise conflict situations;
    • Assist in the implementation of comprehensive peace treaties;
    • Guide states or territories toward stable government based on democratic principles, good governance, and economic development.

Principles

  • Three fundamental principles continue to distinguish UN peacekeeping operations as a tool for maintaining international peace and security. They are as follows:
    • The parties’ agreement
  • A peacekeeping operation risks becoming a party to the conflict and being drawn into enforcement action in the absence of such consent.
    • Impartiality
  • Peacekeepers should be impartial in their interactions with conflict parties, but not neutral in carrying out their mandate.
    • The use of force is prohibited except in self-defense and defence of the mandate.

Successes

  • Since 1948, the United Nations has successfully conducted peacekeeping operations in dozens of countries, including Cambodia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mozambique, Namibia, and Tajikistan.
  • Other countries with recently completed or ongoing UN peacekeeping operations include Sierra Leone, Burundi, Côte d’Ivoire, Timor-Leste, Liberia, Haiti, and Kosovo.
  • In other cases, however, UN peacekeeping has been called into question and found wanting, such as in Somalia, Rwanda, and the former Yugoslavia in the early 1990s.
  • In general, UN Peacekeeping Forces have an impressive track record of peacekeeping accomplishments, including receiving the Nobel Peace Prize (1988).

India and UN Peacekeeping Operations

  • India has been actively involved in peacekeeping since 1950, when it supplied medical personnel and troops to the United Nations Repatriation Commission in Korea.
  • India has a long history of contributing personnel to UN peacekeeping, having contributed more than any other country. More than 2.53 million Indians have served in 49 of the 71 UN Peacekeeping missions established around the world to date.
  • India is currently the fifth-largest troop contributor, with approximately 5,500 personnel deployed across nine missions. The contribution of India to the peacekeeping budget is 0.16%.
    • In various sections, nearly 80% of Indian peacekeepers are deployed in hostile regions such as Central African Republic and South Sudan.
  • In April 2019, 150 Indian peacekeepers serving with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) were awarded medals of honour for their dedication and sacrifice.
  • In August 2021, India will launch the UNITE AWARE platform in collaboration with the UN.
    • It is a technological platform that ensures peacekeepers’ safety and security.
  • India has also proposed a 10-point plan, which includes holding those who target UN peacekeepers accountable.
  • India has proposed erecting a memorial wall to honour peacekeepers.

India’s Complaints About UN Peacekeeping Operations

  • One of the complaints in New Delhi is that they do not have enough say in the types of missions in which UN Peacekeepers participate.
  • India has complained that the mandate is for UN peacekeeping, but once soldiers are on the ground, it quickly becomes a mandate for peace enforcement, for which they are unprepared.
  • As a result, India prefers that the UN Security Council address these issues rather than burden peacekeeping missions beyond their mandate.
  • India believes that peacekeeping missions cannot be a long-term solution to fundamentally political issues.
  • The number of UN Peacekeeping Forces (UNPKF) fatalities in direct attacks is increasing.
    • Two BSF jawans have been killed in recent attacks on UN Peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) amid anti-UN protests.
  • As a result, General Jean-Pierre Lacroix is travelling to major peacekeeping contributor countries to discuss the need for stronger mandates as well as improved equipment, training, and technology.

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December 2022
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