India’s army chief calls for better UN consultations

By Arul Louis,

United Nations : Representing the largest contributor to the UN Peacekeeping Operations, India’s Chief of Army Staff Gen. Dalbir Singh Suhag has called for better consultations with troop-contributing countries in deciding mandates for the operations.

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Addressing the first UN Chiefs of Defence Conference here Friday, Suhag reiterated India’s concerns over the inadequacy of consultations with countries deploying their forces in UN operations.

In the past India has repeatedly drawn attention to the fact that the Security Council in practice ignores the UN Charter requirement for nations contributing troops “to participate in the decisions” of the Council on their deployment. Reiterating the nation’s commitment to the world body’s peace efforts, Suhag referred to India having contributed over 180,000 troops to UN operations.

He said India would continue to abide by the cardinal principles of UN peacekeeping, which are impartiality, consent of the parties to the conflict and use of force in self-defence or defence of the mandate.

India has 8,145 personnel serving in 12 of the current 16 UN operations. Historically, Indian troops have participated in 43 of the 69 UN peacekeeping missions and 156 have died while serving under the UN’s blue flag.

Defence chiefs from 108 countries participated in the conference, the largest gathering of the world’s top military leaders.

While summing up the conference proceedings, Hervé Ladsous, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, said the defence chiefs felt “better clarity on mandates was required.”

At the start of the conference, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in “our largest deployment in history” more than 130,000 military, police and civilian staff from serve in the UN’s 16 peacekeeping operations.

“It must be matched by a stronger international partnership for peacekeeping,” he said. “Peacekeeping is a shared global responsibility that advances the world’s common interests.”

“Over the past two decades, the Security Council has given peacekeepers increasingly challenging mandates,” Ban said. “Effective performance demands broad consensus on why, where and how peacekeepers carry out their mandates.”

Atul Khare, the Under-Secretary-General for Field Support, described the recent efforts to improve the missions’ ability to respond to respond to challenging environment by adopting a comprehensive approach.

An issue that came up at the conference was the growing problem of asymmetric threats that peacekeepers face from adversaries using non-conventional tactics.

According to Ladsous, to meet these threats the defence chiefs emphasised developing better relations with the local people where the troops operate and the deploying agile and mobile units.

“Rapid deployment was recognised as an absolute necessity,” Ladsous said.

(Arul Louis can be reached at [email protected])