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Speech by Secretary (West) at 3rd United Nations Peacekeeping Course for African Partners (UNPCAP-3) (May 07, 2018)

May 08, 2018

Ambassador Kenneth Juster, [new US Ambassador]
Lt. Gen. Ajae Kumar Sharma, [Director General (SD), Army HQ]
Ladies and Gentlemen

It is pleasure for me to be present here today for the 3rd inaugural session of the "United Nations Peacekeeping Course for African Partners” (UNPCAP-III), a unique training collaboration between India, our African Partners and the United States of America.

A peaceful and prosperous Africa is an essential pre-requisite for a peaceful international order. It is heartening, therefore, that our African partners and their regional organizations are today, increasingly taking charge of the task of ensuring peace and security on the continent. We hope that trilateral training collaborations of this nature, will contribute to this very positive trend.

As one of the oldest TCCs with experience spanning over half a century, it is our national commitment to share India’s peacekeeping experience with other member states who wish to contribute. We are ready to do so either bilaterally or trilaterally through training collaborations like the UNPCAP that we inaugurate today.

At the outset, therefore, I would also like to thank officials of the CUNPK, the Global Peace Operations Initiative of the US Government, and Defence Ministry officials in our African partner countries, who have made this third inaugural of the UNPCAP possible today.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

UN Peacekeeping operations are one of the most visible manifestation of our commitment "to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war”, and to uphold fundamental human rights and dignities.

But at the same time we cannot ignore the fact that UN Peacekeeping has changed dramatically over the years. The present generation of blue berets serving under the UN flag face dangers and complexities that previous generations of peacekeepers would never have imagined.

Today we expect our peacekeepers to "keep the peace” where there is "little peace to keep”. Where "parties” to the conflict can range from shadowy armed militias to criminal and terror networks. Where combatants see the wilful killing of women and children as a legitimate instrument of war. And where UN personnel can also be legitimate military targets.

In this complexity we also expect peacekeepers to do much more - to ensure protection of civilians in the conflict zone, to prevent atrocity crimes from being perpetuated, and to lay the foundations for building sustainable peace for the future years.

Confronted by these multiple challenges experience has shown that the critical difference between "Mission success” or "Mission failure”, is the quality of men and women who serve in UN missions. Well trained, skilled peacekeepers, almost always ensure that the Mission will have a greater chance of fulfilling its mandate with the minimum loss of life.

Training of serving and future UN peacekeepers has to be our priority. We hope that training collaboration activities like the present trilateral partnership between India, Africa and the United States, will contribute significantly to this much needed peacekeeping training effort.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Apart from the training aspect the international community must also start looking to reform the manner in which UN Peacekeeping missions are established and operated in these challenging times.

First, we need to acknowledge and address the political and legal challenges that have arisen when robust mandates are conferred on UN troops to achieve ambitious objectives. We remain an international system founded on the principle of respect for sovereignty, and there are difficult legal and political choices that will have to be made when robust mandates are given to UN peacekeeping missions.

There is also need for much more consultations between the Security Council and Troop and Police Contributing countries. This is not just because Article 44 of the Charter says so but because TCCs and PCCs deployed on the ground can provide valuable insights to the Council to draw up realistic mandates, or when translating Security Council mandates into implementable peacekeeping objectives.

Furthermore, our recent focus on concepts like "core functions” of peacekeeping, "de escalation” or "risk reduction”, to improve peacekeeping should not detract or substitute from the important task of finding political settlements to conflict. There are too many "long standing” UN peacekeeping Missions that testify to our neglect of this simple truth.

We also need to pay more attention to the nature of mandates we confer on a peacekeeping Mission. Mandates should be precise and translatable into clear military and political objectives. Mandates must always be cognizant of harsh ground realities wherever they exist. Mandates have to be accompanied by provisioning the Mission with adequate resources. And "Robust mandates” should be attempted only after the requisite political and diplomatic preparations have been made. Not to do any of these, is a recipe for Mission failure and a sure way of undermining the credibility of UN peacekeeping operations in the long term.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am told that this course will examine many of the critical military, political and legal complexities involved in UN peacekeeping missions. I hope that the training that you will undergo here will contribute to preparing you for the difficult roles and responsibilities that you will have to fulfil in your future missions.

I am also delighted that we have participants from the French speaking parts of Africa and special arrangements have been made to impart training in the French language for the first time.

Before I conclude I would also like to thank the Government of Zambia for hosting the first ever "Joint Mobile Training Team” of Indian and US medical personnel in February this year, which has opened a new dimension to the India-Africa-US trilateral partnership in the field of peacekeeping. We hope that there will many more such partnerships with other African TCCs in the coming months.

My best wishes to all participants attending this year’s United Nations Peacekeeping Course for African Partners.

I hope that you have an enjoyable stay in India.

Thank You.


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