Thursday January 17, 2019
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UN considering Indian demands in peace keeping operations

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United Nations, Jan 1: UN Security Council called for regular and more expansive consultations after admitting to its flawed consultation process with countries contributing troops to peacekeeping operations. This demand consistently pushed by India throughout last year and finally coming into implementation cap the tenure of Asoke Kumar Mukerji, who is retiring as India’s Permanent Representative. He had waged a constant battle to get the Council to properly consult with troop-contributing countries as it issues and monitors peacekeeping mandates.

The Council recognized that the consultation process involving it, the troop contributors and the UN Secretariat “do not meet their expectations and have yet to reach their full potential,” US Permanent Representative Samantha Power, the Council President for December, said in a statement released Thursday.

“The Security Council stresses the importance of substantive, representative and meaningful exchanges and underscores the importance of full participation by the three stakeholders so that meetings are useful and productive,” Power said.

In June in one of several speeches at UN debates, on peacekeeping, Mukerji had criticized the Council saying it was “enforcing the will of a small privileged minority within the Council to look at peacekeepers as instruments to wage war.” He cited its disregard of the UN Charter requirement for nations contributing troops “to participate in the decisions” of the Council on their deployment.

“India, for example, has not been so consulted,” he said. “This despite the fact that India is the single largest contributor of troops to UN peacekeeping operations, having contributed more than 170,000 troops in 43 of the 69 peacekeeping operations mandated so far by the Council.” India currently has 7,798 personnel serving the peacekeeping operations.

In her statement released Thursday, Power called for extending the scope of the interactions between the Council, the Secretariat and the troop-contributors. “These consultations must extend beyond the issue of mandates of operations, and to areas such as safety and security of peacekeepers, strategic force generation, gender, conduct and discipline, including allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse, implementation of protection of civilian mandates, capability, performance, equipment and national caveat,” she said.

The US role in shepherding the commitment through the Council in the waning days of 2015 during Power’s presidency adds to its weight. President Barack Obama’s international summit on the subject in September further showed interest in rejuvenating UN peacekeeping operations.

The Council also recognized the troop-contributing countries’ on-the-ground expertise. Power said, “The experience and expertise of troop- and police-contributing countries in theatres of operation can greatly assist the planning of operations.”

India has stressed the importance of continuing consultations to make use of the reservoir of experiences peacekeepers have. During a recent interview with IANS, Mukerji gave an example of the situation in South Sudan where Indian peacekeepers are deployed. Rights to graze cattle sparked conflicts between groups and these escalated, he said. While the Indian troops on the ground, who had been trained professionally to observe the conflict environment, were aware of it, the information had no avenue to reach the Council or the higher UN echelons, thus missing an opportunity to prevent the situation from escalating, he added.

Power said the Council also asked the Secretariat to consult with troop-and police-contributing countries when planning any change in military tasks, mission-specific rules of engagement, concept of operations or command and control structure or early peace building that would impact personnel, equipment, training and logistics.

This meets another of the peacekeeping issue that India has raised about the Council changing mandates midway through a mission or introducing new elements that could affect the security of peacekeepers. The Council added a so-called intervention brigade in the Democratic Republic of Congo where Indian peacekeepers are deployed. India fears that its troops could become vulnerable to attacks stemming from the aggressive tactics mandated for the intervention brigades.

(IANS)

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Assam’s Citizen Register Raises Concern of U.N. Human Rights Expert

Assam, a state of 33 million people known for its lush tea estates, has for decades been racked by violence between indigenous tribes and settlers.

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Assam
A woman, whose name is left out in the National Register of Citizens (NRC) draft, stands in a a line to collect forms to file appeals at a NRC Sewa Kendra (NSK) in Guwahati, Aug. 11, 2018. VOA

Three United Nations human rights experts expressed “deep concern” Thursday over a controversial citizens register in India’s Assam state, warning it could inflame ethnic tensions in an already fractious region.

A new draft Register of Citizens (NRC) in the northeastern state announced in July left off four million people, leaving them potentially stateless and facing an uncertain future.

Critics say it is the latest move by the right-wing party of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to bolster India’s Hindu majority at the expense of minorities. India will hold a national election next year.

assam
Bakrapara, Assam

The policy was introduced by the state government, which is controlled by the same BJP party in power nationally.

“We are… seriously concerned about the lack of clarity regarding what will happen to those left out of the finalized NRC,” said a joint statement from the UN special rapporteur on religious freedoms, Ahmed Shaheed, the rapporteur for minority rights, Fernand de Varennes and an expert on arbitrary detentions, Seong-Phil Hong.

“There is a risk that persons not part of the NRC could become stateless, be at risk of deportation, or be subject to large-scale migration detention,” they said.

The deadline to provide the necessary documents to be included on the register has been set for December 31.

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Indian Muslim men shout slogans during a protest against tensions in India’s northeastern state of Assam, in New Delhi, India, Aug. 8, 2012.
Source:VOA

The current register includes only those who were able to prove they were in the state before 1971, when millions fled Bangladesh’s war of independence into the state, and their descendants.

Also Read: Firefighters of India Battle Air Pollution In The Country’s Capital

Assam, a state of 33 million people known for its lush tea estates, has for decades been racked by violence between indigenous tribes and settlers.

“It is feared that this entire process is increasing inter-ethnic tensions in a region that has already experienced a tumultuous history of identity-based conflicts,” de Varennes said. (VOA)