India has demanded that troop-contributing countries, whose soldiers lay down their lives in peacekeeping operations, should be involved in the decisions by the Security Council on their mandates….A special report by Arul Louis for Asian Lite News
The Military Adviser at India’s UN Mission, Colonel Sandeep Kapoor said the current system of excluding the troop and police-contributing countries (T/PCCs) from process of framing the mandates is not sustainable and they should be involved from its beginning.
He made the case for better coordination at a closed meeting of Security Council Working Group on Peacekeeping Reforms held on Tuesday.
The Security Council decides on the mandates of the peacekeeping operations and changes it unilaterally without involving the T/PCCs, who ultimately have to execute them.
In effect, it is the five permanent members who have the final say and they make the least contributions to the operations, although China has lately begun to raise its involvement.
“It is a great irony that T/PCCs who provides their troops to execute the mandates and the troops on ground who lay down their lives to fulfil these mandates have no say in the process of formulation of the mandate,” Kapoor said.
Historically India is the largest contributor to the peacekeeping operations, with nearly 200,000 Indians donning the UN blue helmets in about 50 missions and 168 of them dying in the missions.
Currently India is the third largest contributor to the peacekeeping operations with 7,049 personnel.
The nature of peacekeeping operations has changed over the years and now peacekeepers have to contend with non-State actors and terrorists and have more responsibilities for protecting civilians while facing limits on use of force.
Kapoor brought up the case of two operations, UN Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (known by the French acronym Monusco) and UN Mission in South Sudan (Unmiss) that are among the most problematic of the current missions.
In Unmiss, the mandate was changed last August and the Council decided to deploy Regional Protection Force (RPF) of 4,000 without consulting the troop-contributors, he said.
So far neither the changes to the mandate nor the RPF deployment has been effective, Kapoor said.
Unmiss now has 2,471 Indians and so far seven have been killed while serving in it.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the UN has been running the longest peacekeeping operation starting with Monuco in 1999, which morphed into Monusco in 2010 with a mandate emphasising stabilising the country.
Yet there are at least 20 major armed groups operating there, he said.
“Security Council extended mandate of Monusco until March 31, 2018, with a drastic reduction of 3,600 troops which is incompatible with the prevailing political and security challenges,” he said.
Without consulting the T/PCCs, the Council has increased the area of the operations four to five times and added responsibilities for protecting civilians and supporting last December’s agreement between the government and the opposition and the electoral process, he said.
The peacekeepers have limited capacity to be able to protect civilians under these circumstances, he said.
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in a report to the Council in May admitted that the agreement was in danger of unravelling.
In Monusco, 3,207 Indians are currently serving and five have been killed. Last December 32 Indian peacekeepers were injured in an explosion.