General Assembly Security Council

 

Statement by Minister of State for External Affairs Smt. Meenakashi Lekhi at the UN Security Council Open Debate on UN Peacekeeping Operations-Transitions

 

8 September 2021

 

Thank you, Madam President,


At the outset, I would like to congratulate Ireland for assuming the presidency of the Security Council for the month of September 2021. I also would like to thank you, Madam President, for convening this important Open Debate on UN Peacekeeping Operations focusing on ‘Transitions’. This is a timely initiative on a very significant aspect of peacekeeping, which we appreciate.
 

2. Let me thank Secretary General Mr. António Guterres for his comprehensive briefing. I also thank Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the former President of Liberia for sharing Liberia’s experience with respect to UN Peacekeeping, and the subsequent transition. India has a unique bilateral relationship with Liberia, which we deeply value. Let me also express my appreciation to Ms. Safaa Elagib Adam, President of the Community Development Association of Sudan for her insights and for bringing civil society perspective to today’s debate.


Madam President,


3. Over the past seven decades, more than a million men and women have served under the UN flag in more than 70 peacekeeping operations. India joins other delegations in paying tribute to the men and women who have served and continue to serve in peacekeeping operations for their professionalism, dedication and courage. We also remember the 4089 peacekeepers who have laid down their lives, and the courage and bravery of India’s 174 peacekeepers who made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty.
 

4. India is the largest troop contributor to the UN peacekeeping operations in cumulative terms since their inception, having deployed more than 2,50,000 peacekeepers across 49 UN missions. This bears testimony to India’s commitment towards contributing a reliable, well-trained and highly professional peacekeeping force. As of today, nearly 5,500 Indian peacekeepers are deployed across 9 UN Missions. India was also happy to donate vaccines for all UN peacekeepers, and upgrade two of our hospitals for peacekeeping to combat the pandemic.
 

5. We take pride in the fact that the first-ever all women peacekeeping contingent was from India and stationed in Liberia. Due to their dedication, professionalism and motivation, the all-female Forward Police Unit proved to be strong, visible role models, gaining world-wide attention and illustrating the significant contribution that women can make towards global peace and security. Today, India’s Female Engagement Team (FET) is also playing an important role in MONUSCO.


6. UN Peacekeeping Missions have been playing an important role in bringing about peace and stability in countries of deployment, despite numerous operational challenges. One of the major operational challenges that continue to hamper peacekeeping operations has been the transition phase from peacekeeping to peacebuilding. The drawdown of a UN Peacekeeping Operation and its reconfiguration into a minimal modified UN presence represents a critical phase for the success of a UN Peacekeeping Mission. For the host country, on one hand this signals progress towards political stability and new development opportunities; but on the other hand, it also presents a real risk of the country relapsing into conflict.
 

7. The transition of peacekeeping operations and peacebuilding depend on several factors, including the way such transitions are envisaged, planned and executed by the UN. To be successful, this critical phase needs the active collaboration of all stakeholders. This was illustrated by the recent transition of the UN-AU Hybrid Operation in Darfur [UNAMID] into the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan [UNITAMS].


8. In this context, I would like to offer following observations:
 

i) First, effective mandate delivery of the UN peacekeeping missions is critical to achieve the benchmarks for transition. The peacekeeping missions should be given clear, focused, sequenced, prioritized and practically achievable mandates, and most importantly, these should be matched by adequate resources.


ii) Second, it is important that Mission transitions are well planned, taking into account the objective assessment of various factors in the host country. The drawdown of a peacekeeping mission should not be driven by the temptation for austerity. The cost of relapsing is always much higher than the short-term savings. In this regard, India welcomes the important advisory, bridging and convening roles of the Peacebuilding Commission, especially when the Council is discussing mandates of Peacekeeping Missions.
 

iii) Third, the primary responsibility to protect civilians across its territory lies with the host State. The Council should encourage and support the efforts of the host State towards the effective implementation of a national plan for civilian protection.


iv) Fourth, full respect for the sovereignty of a country can never be over-emphasized. The transition strategies should recognize the primacy of national governments and national ownership in identifying and driving priorities. The efforts of the host States towards security sector reforms, capacity building of police, justice and correction, and promotion of rule of law and good governance need to be supported and supplemented.
 

v) Fifth, the political solution of the conflict is paramount for achieving stability and sustainable peace. Political stakeholders should strive for the creation of political and administrative institutions that improve governance, inclusiveness, and provide equal political opportunities for women, youth as well as the marginalized and the underprivileged. Reconfigured peacekeeping operations have a crucial role in fostering a positive environment and encouraging collaboration among all relevant parties.
 

vi) Sixth, Peacekeeping and Peacebuilding are not mutually exclusive. It is important to actively support the post-conflict peacebuilding and recovery initiatives of the host States. In this regard, the efforts of the UN in Peacebuilding should be strengthened, by providing it adequate financial resources, if necessary, by engaging international financial institutions, the private sector, and civil society organizations. I have just returned from a bilateral visit to Colombia and saw myself how the government is making commendable efforts towards peace and reconciliation, with the support of the UN Verification Mission.
 

vii) Seventh, technology, especially digital technology can play a crucial role in post conflict peace building, to improve public services, promote transparency in governance, enhance the reach of democracy, promote human rights and gender sensitivity. India has been a strong advocate of the urgent need to introduce new and advanced technology in Peacekeeping Missions. In the context of transitions of operations, and post-conflict peacebuilding, technology is equally relevant.
 

Madam President,


9. India’s contributions in the area of human-centric peacebuilding and post-conflict reconstruction work in Africa are well known. India’s fundamental approach to peacebuilding efforts is to respect national ownership and to be guided by host States’ development priorities. We are convinced that human-centric, gender sensitive and technologically primed solutions and the robust functioning of democratic institutions of governance that give all stakeholders a say in creating a better future is the biggest guarantee for the success of peacebuilding and for sustaining peace. Going forward, India will continue to be a force multiplier for peacebuilding with an emphasis on the "human-centric” approach.
 

Thank you.