Inaction against attacks on UN peacekeepers dangerous: India

India has criticised the United Nations over lack of any "specific concrete action" by member states to penalise those who attack UN peacekeepers and warned that it might have "dangerous implications" for the maintenance of international peace and security.

PTI| Last Updated: Feb 18, 2015, 16:44 PM IST

New York: India has criticised the United Nations over lack of any "specific concrete action" by member states to penalise those who attack UN peacekeepers and warned that it might have "dangerous implications" for the maintenance of international peace and security.

India, the single largest contributor of troops to UN peacekeeping operations that has actively participated in 11 out of the 15 active peacekeeping operations, also told a special UN committee that the lack of action to hold those responsible "reflects poorly" on the Security Council.

"Any lack of action by member states to penalise those who attack UN peacekeepers reflects poorly on the Security Council," India's Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Asoke Kumar Mukerji said at the annual debate of the UN Special Committee for Peacekeeping Operations (C34) here yesterday.

"If the Security Council fails to deter such attacks, the very institution of UN peacekeeping will continue to be targeted across the world, with dangerous implications for the maintenance of international peace and security," he said.

Mukerjee said that in peacekeeping operations in the Congo, South Sudan and the Golan, there has not been any "specific concrete action" by the United Nations, led by the Security Council, to bring those who attack UN peacekeepers to justice.

He further said that peacekeeping operations should not become "self-perpetuating enterprises" with the Security Council "routinely" extending their mandates as it expressed concern over the deteriorating situation of such operations.

The context of the conflicts in which UN peacekeepers are deployed today is radically different from the past, he said.

"However, it is not clear whether the Security Council has fully examined these changes before somewhat routinely extending peacekeeping operations mandates. The C34 must ensure that PKOs do not become self-perpetuating enterprises," he said, adding that the situation regarding UN peacekeeping operations since 2014 has "only deteriorated".

Mukerjee said that the C34 should ask for a detailed report from the Security Council on what steps it has taken to enforce its resolutions on those who have targeted UN peacekeeping operations. Mukerjee also noted that India's concerns on mixing the original and new interventionist mandates peacekeeping operations continue to be valid.

He added that it is up to the humanitarian and developmental actors, and not military troops, to carry out activities related to "providing expertise in strengthening the rule of law, disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration, security sector reform." 

He said these activities are essentially relevant to peace-building, and not peacekeeping.

"The use of the UN's peace-building and peacekeeping architecture needs to be calibrated by the Council properly," Mukerjee said.

He stressed that the C34 Committee should call for segregating the roles of traditional peacekeeping functions from the roles of such peacebuilding activities.

"This will place the growing outlay on UN peace operations into proper perspective, and show that costs for our troops are not the primary reason for escalating costs of peacekeeping " he added.

India also expressed alarm over the lack of any effective action by the Security Council to address the root political causes of the crisis in South Sudan, where UN peacekeepers are laying down their lives to protect civilians in South Sudan.

Mukerjee noted that the Secretary General's report on peacekeeping operations addresses "protection of civilians" in the different dimensions of UN peacekeeping operations.

He, however, added that the report speaks glibly of a "whole-of-mission mandate".

"This begs the question - which mandate? The original mandate, in which troops were contributed to maintain the peace? Or a new mandate, inserted into the original mandate, requiring peacekeepers to fight to enforce the peace? Until the Security Council...Consults directly with troop contributing countries that are not members of the Council, this question cannot be answered."

He stressed that India would like more transparency and information on the use of technologies for peacekeeping operations.

"We would caution that technology is not by itself a substitute for a presence on the ground, nor for the proper functioning of national structures within the territories of member states, which are essential to keep the peace." India also proposed construction of a UN Peacekeepers Memorial Wall, with the names of all those UN peacekeepers since 1948 who have laid down their lives "to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war."

He said India is ready to contribute materially and conceptually to such a project.