India seeks strong UN action against groups attacking peacekeepers


United Nations: India has demanded that the UN take strong action against groups attacking peacekeepers who are being mandated to deal with emerging new threats and take on expanded roles.

“We would like to urge the United Nations, and specially the Security Council, to ensure a mandatory inclusion in all UNPKO (UN Peacekeeping Operations) mandates of legally binding provisions for prosecuting, penalizing and neutralizing any non-governmental armed groups and armed militias causing, or threatening to cause, harm to UNPKOs,” India’s delegate Rahul Kaswan told the General Assembly Committee dealing with political matters Wednesday.

“We have been stressing at various peacekeeping debates at the UN about the new demands that have been placed on the PKOs with the changing nature of conflicts,” Kaswan said as he outlined the threats faced by peacekeepers confronting terrorists and militias in new environments.

With 7,793 Indian personnel currently serving under the UN’s blue flag in dangerous environments far different from the international and civil conflicts the PKOs were designed for, India has been concerned for their safety.

In May, an Indian Colonel serving in South Sudan was injured when a compound with refugees protected by Indian peacekeepers was caught in a crossfire. Five Indian peacekeepers were killed in 2013 in two separate attacks by rebels on refugee camps they were protecting in that country.

In 2010, three Indian peacekeepers were killed in attacks by rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and in 2012 three were hacked to death.

Kaswan, a Bharatiya Janata Party member of the Lok Sabha representing Churu in Rajasthan, is among parliamentarians representing India at the UN.

He raised another issue of concern to India where the UN Security Council mixes traditional PKOs with a new type of active intervention by other troops.

He referred to the added risks from the Security Council mandating so-called UN Force Intervention Brigades to carry out offensive operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo, alongside the peacekeepers, of whom 4,000 are Indians.

Even as the Security Council added to the role of the PKOs, the resources and finances didn’t match the responsibilities, he said.

“There is an urgent need to offset the mismatch between the requirement of the resources and the actual allocated resources,” he added.

Kaswan said that emphasis should be placed on finding political solutions to conflicts give the resource constraints.

He brought up the payment for peacekeepers and said that the General Assembly had fixed a new rate since last year of $1,322 per person per month even though the Troop Cost Survey had recommended $1,762.55.

Kaswan crticised “the opaque manner in which the Security Council continues to mandate peace operations, without any accountability or transparency”, and reiterated India’s demand that it hold proper consultations with troops contributing countries as required under the UN Charter.

India is historically the largest troop contributor to UN operations, having sent 185,000 troops to serve in 48 of the 69 missions mandated so far, he said.

Referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s offer to increase troop contribution by ten percent and send three police units with a high proportion of women, Kaswan said it was a sign that “India is willing to walk the talk when it comes to supporting UN peace operations.”

(By Arul Louis,IANS)