General Assembly Security Council

 

UNSC Arria-formula Meeting

Protecting the peacekeeper: suppressing the deployment of improvised explosive devices against peace operations’

 

INDIA STATEMENT

By

Ambassador K. Nagaraj Naidu

Deputy Permanent Representative

 

[Friday, 26th March, 2021; 1400 hrs]

 

 

At the outset, let me thank the delegation of Kenya and other co-sponsors for organizing this meeting on a pertinent and relevant topic. I also thank USG for Peace Operations Mr. Jean-Pierre Lacroix and Force Commander of MINUSMA Lieutenant General Dennis Gyllensporre and other briefers for their remarks and useful updates. Let me also reiterate our views on the Arria format of meetings, which are well known, that we do not wish to see this platform being misused for narrow political interests.

 

2. India pays tribute to the men and women who have served and continue to serve in peacekeeping operations for their professionalism, dedication and courage. We remember those who have lost their lives in serving the cause of peace. I join in extending our condolences to the peacekeepers who have paid the ultimate price in the cause of UN peacekeeping.

 

3. Being a leading contributor to UN peacekeeping operations, India accords topmost priority to the safety and security of peacekeepers. India has always advocated for more proactive measures by the UN system to protect the protectors. Today, UN peacekeepers operate in a complex security environment involving armed groups, non-state actors and terrorists, be it in Mali, DRC, Central African Republic or Somalia. The ever-expanding mandates of peacekeeping missions with limited resources has only added to the challenges and complexities that peacekeepers face on the ground. These challenges are compounded further by the increasing use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) by terrorists and armed groups against peacekeepers.

 

4. Easy access to components for fabricating an IED continue to be a cause of concern for security and law enforcement agencies. Advancement of technologies, including those related to signal communication, electronics, sensors, remote operating capabilities have added more complex dimensions to the already evolving threat. While simple and commonly used household tools and commercial explosives used in construction and mining can be used to make IEDs, lack of proper stockpile management and security of military and commercial explosives make them susceptible for diversion into wrong hands in zones of armed conflicts. We have seen this manifested in several peacekeeping missions.

 

5. Among all UN peacekeeping missions, MINUSMA has been seriously affected by IED attacks in the recent years. Since 2018, MINSUMA has lost 22 peacekeepers to IED attacks. IEDs and explosive hazards are having a detrimental impact on the safety and freedom of movement of peacekeepers in the central and northern parts of Mali. In Somalia, IEDs are the weapons of choice for Al-Shabaab, which has acquired the capacity to manufacture them. There have been incidents of IED attacks against peacekeepers in DRC as well. In November 2016, 32 Indian peacekeepers from the 16 Punjab Regiment in MONUSCO were injured by a suspected IED.

 

6. India appreciates the Secretary-General’s close attention to the issue of improving safety and security of UN peacekeeping personnel. While a number of initiatives have been taken to incorporate Improvised Explosive Device Disposal (IEDD) measures in the field, we are of the view that this problem needs more attention.

 

7. We believe that missions facing IED threats should have dedicated resources for countering IED threats. The training of UN personnel on IED threats, both in-country and prior to deployment, need to be more context specific. The advance patrol parties in affected areas along with the involvement of concerned State security authorities, whenever it is feasible, should become the norm. There should also be concerted efforts to upgrade the security infrastructure of camps of UN peacekeepers as a number of casualties have been related to direct attacks on security camps. Timely and reliable medical evacuation and casualty evacuation, including the use of helicopters with night flight capability and night retrieval operations, is essential. Also, to respond in a timely manner to crisis situations or accidents, Force Commanders should be given the direct authority for commanding such air assets in the mission. Peacekeepers need to be provided full access to medical facilities, in accordance with the golden hour principle, throughout the mission area. Medical capabilities in all missions need to be reviewed to identify gaps that currently exist. 

 

8. There is also an urgent need to adopt a multi-pronged strategy to support host states in discharging their primary role to fight the threat. In this regard, I would like to make following observations:

 

  • Strengthening the institutional and regulatory capacity of the host countries, on their request and identified national priorities, is particularly important. In this regard, the UN Missions, whenever such a request is sought, should assist the host country, to strengthen the capacity to counter IED threats, including basic explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) response capacity.

 

  • The regional and sub-regional initiatives focusing on curbing the flow of explosives and other components to fabricate IED should be supported with adequate human and financial resources, besides sharing technical expertise, lessons learnt and best practices.

 

  • Besides safeguarding the stockpiles of explosive substances, close coordination among all the concerned authorities of member states in the region and tracking of the movement of substances that could be used for making IEDs is vital. 

 

  • Strong vigilance and tighter controls over materials or components used for making IEDs including national ammunition stockpiles, industrially produced detonators, detonating cords and industrially produced explosives are important. 

 

  • Full involvement of the relevant industry and authorities in the regulation of pre-cursor and prefabricated components is crucial. Effective information sharing on designs and components of IEDs between Member States has the potential to shorten the response time to identify and develop counter measures. 

 

Mr President,

 

9. India has extended assistance towards international de-mining and rehabilitation efforts. In the recent years, India has undertaken specialist training on Counter IED, bomb disposal and de-mining with numerous partner countries including Australia, Cambodia, Indonesia and Uzbekistan. Our 12-member team of experts participated in a joint counter explosive threat task forces training exercise Ardent Defender-2019 in Ontario, Canada. About 130 personnel from 13 African States participated in exercise AFINDEX, a multinational exercise on demining and unexploded ordinance held in India in March 2019.

 

10. On the occasion of the 150th Birth Anniversary celebrations of Mahatma Gandhi, in October 2018, India launched the ‘India for Humanity’ initiative and conducted 13 artificial limb fitment camps and fitted more than 6500 artificial limbs in the last two years in Malawi, Iraq, Nepal, Egypt, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Syria, Vietnam, Tanzania, Senegal and Namibia. In view of its success and recognition by partner countries, this initiative has now been extended up to March 2023.

 

11. India has been cooperating and providing assistance to various countries and stands ready to contribute towards capacity building, victim assistance and victim re-habilitation, upon request from countries under the UN mandate.

 

Thank you, Mr President.

 

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