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Key Note Speech by Secretary (West) at Inaugural Event of 2nd United Nations Peacekeeping Course for African Partners (UNPCAP-II)

July 17, 2017

Excellencies,
Lt. Gen. Cheema, Deputy Chief of Army Staff,
Lt General Vijay Singh, Director SD Staff
Ms MaryKay Loss Carlson, from the US Embassy

Distinguished Guests,


It is a pleasure to be present here today for the 2nd United Nations Peacekeeping Course for African Partners (UNPCAP).

It has been a year since we first embarked upon this unique trilateral training partnership in peacekeeping between India, Africa and the United States. The responses we received from many of our African partners last time, countries we consider our "neighbors across the Ocean”, was extremely encouraging. I am delighted that this year the number of participating countries has increased.

Some of our African partners attending this course are critical Troop and Police Contributing Countries in several UN peacekeeping missions. Without their continued commitment and sacrifice, many of the present UN Missions in Africa would not even be possible.

Their presence here today, is therefore, both an honor and important for us as members of the international community - We must never forget that a secure and prosperous African continent holds the key to more prosperous international order.

India is committed to sharing its experience in UN peacekeeping activities with all those who wish to contribute to this cause. This is a commitment we made when Prime Minister Modi met African leaders during the Third India-Africa Forum in New Delhi in October 2015. And it is one of the commitments we made to the international community, at the High Level Peace Keeping Summit the same year in New York.

I am, therefore, specially indebted and thankful to all officials, particularly from the Defense Ministries of Africa, from the Centre for UN Peacekeeping (CUNPK) New Delhi, and from the Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI) of the United States Government, who worked tirelessly to put together the second edition of this unique trilateral training program.

Ladies and Gentlemen,


It is almost a cliché to say today that the present generation of men and women who serve under the UN flag in various UN peace Missions, confront security challenges that are much more complex, and are asked to perform tasks that are much more dangerous than those performed by their predecessors.

Organizationally UN peacekeeping missions today have become a "multi-disciplinary effort”, involving simultaneous and coordinated action in the political, military and human rights fields. They have also become more "multi-national in character” involving many more contributing countries working in the same Mission.

UN peacekeeping missions have to confront more complex security situations - often characterized by situations where there is ‘no peace to keep’, ‘a host country unwilling or unable to protect civilians’ or with little prospect for an international or regional consensus that could provide a political settlement to yield lasting peace.

We, as an international community, have also become more demanding of our peacekeepers. The era of a simple ‘ceasefire monitoring’ exercise is long past. Today, not only do we ask them to "de-escalate tensions”, "prevent fresh outbreak of conflict”, but we also ask them to ensure effective "protection of civilians”, particularly women and children, no matter what the implications.

And we are asking them to do this, in an international environment where commitment to support UN peacekeeping financially is flagging; an environment in which we remain stubbornly unwilling to address the political and legal challenges that arise when we give them a mandate to ‘use force’.

All these factors taken together, puts an extraordinary burden on the leadership and the men and women who serve in present-day UN peace missions.

As a Troop Contributing Country with over 50 years of experience in UN peacekeeping, India has constantly searched for practical steps that could be taken to better equip our peacekeepers to confront these modern challenges of peacekeeping. Some of the main steps we have been proposing, along with other like-minded countries, are as follows.

We believe that there is a greater need for consultations between the Security Council and Troop and Police Contributing Countries. Not just because Article 44 of the UN Charter mandates this, but also because TCCs and PCCs with their commanders and personnel deployed on the ground can provide invaluable inputs to the Security Council when it draws up mandates, or when it translates mandates into implementable peacekeeping objectives.

We have repeatedly pointed out that the present focus on the "core functions” or core activities of Peacekeeping like "de escalation of conflict”, "risk reduction”, "security assurances to parties’, "protection of civilians”, important as they are must not detract, or substitute for, the important task of finding a lasting political settlement to the conflict. There are far too many "long-standing” UN missions - that should remind us that we are neglecting this important aspect.

It is also time to pay more attention to the manner in which UN Security Council mandates are drawn up. Mandates have to be more precise and cognizant of harsh ground realities. Overly ambitious or "robust mandates” without the required diplomatic preparation on the ground, or the necessary resources being made available to the Mission, is a recipe for Mission failure. And will surely undermine the credibility of UN peacekeeping activities over the long term.

But for us, as a Troop Contributing Country, the most practical of practical steps to meet the challenge of present-day UN peacekeeping is TRAINING. Our experience over the last half century teaches us that the critical component between "Mission success” and "Mission failure”, is almost always the quality of men and women who serve under the UN flag. Missions with well trained, well skilled, UN peacekeepers, whether Military, Police or Civilian, will always stand a much greater chance for success.

The UN is at the heart of the multilateral system that we established at the end of the 2nd World War. The world needs multilateralism to flourish today, perhaps much more than it did in 1945. It is our generation’s historical responsibility to make the UN strong for the next generation. We have gathered here to undertake an activity that will do precisely that.

Thank you very much.


I wish you all a very pleasant stay in India, and I hope to see you next year for the Third Round of the UN Peacekeeping Course for African partners.

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