The United Nations (UN) peacekeeping missions should not operate in perpetuity and there is an urgent need for time-bound exit strategies to ensure they do not become instruments for "furthering political interests", India, one of the largest troop-contributing countries, has said.
India's Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador TS Tirumurti said the current peacekeeping operations are multi-dimensional and are called upon to not only maintain peace and security but also to facilitate the political processes, protect civilians, disarm combatants, support elections, protect and promote human rights and restore the rule of law.
"Peacekeeping missions are meant to be transitional measures and not operate in perpetuity. There is an urgent need for time-bound exit strategies to ensure that peacekeeping missions do not become instruments for furthering political interests," he said at the General Debate on Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations on Monday.
Highlighting India's perspective on priority issues in UN peacekeeping, he said performance of peacekeeping operations should be measured in relation to political and operational realities, priorities set for implementing mandate, and adequacy and appropriateness of resources.
Mr Tirumurti said India has always voiced its support for the adoption of "No National Caveats Policy" at UN peacekeeping deployments.
"India believes that a caveat, whether declared or undeclared, places additional burden on those who do not have any caveats besides having an impact on performance of peacekeepers in fulfilling their mandate and safety and security," he said.
India has always called for matching mandates with adequate resources, Mr Tirumurti said, underlining that "an under-resourced, under-equipped mission, will not only result in underperformance in mandate implementation, but will impact the credibility of UN peacekeeping as a whole".
President of the UN General Assembly Volkan Bozkir said the COVID-19 pandemic has put additional challenges to the already complex peacekeeping operations. Peace operations are also supporting government-led efforts to both prevent and prepare for COVID-19 outbreaks at the country level.
"Amidst these daunting challenges, it is essential that we provide peacekeeping operations with clearly defined mandates and realisable objectives, adequate resources based on a realistic assessment of the situation on the ground, as well as secure financing," he said.
Mr Bozkir said it was crucial that the UN''s approach keeps pace with, and responds to, evolving challenges and new threats and opportunities.
In this ever more complex and interconnected world, UN peace operations require constant refinement, drawing on analytical and operational capabilities, while leveraging new technology to increase their impact, he said.
Mr Tirumurti said that in the context of COVID-19, India was happy to respond to the request of UN Secretary-General and swiftly dispatch two medical teams and upgrade India's peacekeeping hospitals in MONUSCO in Goma, DRC and in UNMISS in Juba, South Sudan.
"We are working closely with our partners on the vaccine front also and make available our facilities for all humanity," he said.
India stressed that honest assessment and feedback for peacekeeping performance was essential to have an effective accountability system.
"Assessing performance without determining accountability will leave us open to repeating errors," Mr Tirumurti said, adding that India supports the effective implementation of Integrated Performance Policy Framework, which covers all stakeholders and all phases of peacekeeping operations, and not just those on the ground.
India strongly supports the SG's Action for Peacekeeping (A4P) initiative, which requires sustained and effective follow-up and implementation and appreciates the Secretary-General's attention to improving safety and security of UN peacekeeping personnel.
"With rising incidents of attacks, including from terrorists, and rising casualties, we need to do more to 'protect the protectors''," he said.
India, however, voiced concern over the non-payment of cost of service rendered by the Troop and Police Contributing Countries to the "closed" peacekeeping missions, saying this "unresolved" issue requires resolution and considered attention.
According to a UN statement, Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix said the current session sends a powerful message in support of peacekeeping personnel facing complex challenges in the field amid the pandemic.
Mr Tirumurti asserted that India will push for the presence of more women in peacekeeping.
With more than one million men and women having served under the UN flag in more than 70 peacekeeping operations over the past seven decades, Mr Tirumurti recalled the "pioneering" efforts of India, especially the first all-women UN police peacekeeping contingent in Liberia - in the backdrop of "our own history of forming the first all-women Rani of Jhansi regiment of the Indian National Army of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose during India's fight for independence."