India has strongly criticised a “fragmented” UN Security Council for coming up with “unwieldy” and “unimplementable” peacekeeping mandates that put the credibility of the UN and safety and security of peacekeepers at grave risk.
Speaking at a General Assembly debate on peacekeeping operations, India’s Deputy Permanent Representative Tanmaya Lal said, “Peacekeeping, the signature activity of the UN, is under tremendous stress today.”
“The multiplicity of tasks and Christmas-tree mandates; a departure from well-established principles of impartiality; an avoidance of the primacy of politics; a focus on mere ‘band aid’ solutions through peacekeeping, and a near absolute lack of effective consultations amongst the Troop Contributing Countries (TCCs), Security Council and the Secretariat are all part of the existential and philosophical dilemma facing the peacekeeping today,” Lal said.
He noted that Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Herve Ladsous talked about building new coalitions of support to address collective security challenges in today’s multipolar world.
“Perhaps this can and should start at home i.e. within the Security Council, which remains divided, even as it comes up with unwieldy and unimplementable mandates putting both the credibility of the UN and the safety and security of peacekeepers at grave risk,” Lal said yesterday.
He said the manner in which peacekeeping mandates, are finalised clearly demonstrates that the problems have their origin at their source itself.
Lal cited the example of the recently renewed and “so far unimplemented” mandate for the UN mission in South Sudan.
He said even after three months of renewing the peacekeeping mandate in South Sudan, the situation on the ground including for the peacekeepers is no better.
Lal strongly criticised the Security Council for not listening to the Troop Contributing Countries regarding the mandate but also failing to secure the consent of the host government for the revision of the mandate.
“Further, seeing the way the mandate renewal resolution was adopted, it appears that there was no consensus even among the P-5,” he said, referring to the five permanent members of the Council.
Lal said the United Nations Mission in South Sudan mandate came out of a “fragmented Security Council, with little or no groundwork of crucial political work especially with the host government, with little agreement within the UNSC itself, and with no effective consultations with the TCCs who, in the end, have to implement this mandate.”
“Is it any wonder why we are in the situation we are in,” Lal said.
He said the primary purpose of peacekeeping operations is to prevent conflicts in conflict-prone areas and their relapse in areas emerging from long-drawn conflicts but despite member states having highlighted this repeatedly, many peacekeeping operations today are continuing to operate in a “vacuum of political negotiations”.
While peacekeeping operations do get deployed with international backing, they are hardly accompanied by coordinated pressure on warring parties or those assisting them, he said.
Lal emphasised that in several cases of many current peacekeeping mandates, there is a significant departure from the core principle of peacekeeping — impartiality of the UN and avoidance of taking sides.
“This has led to an increase in the risk faced by our peacekeepers. As a result, we are increasingly witnessing the UN peacekeepers becoming targets themselves,” he said.
Lal added that the focus of most UN peacekeeping operations today is merely on operational conflict management.
“While the mandates tend to contain multiple tasks, those related to institution and capacity-building are hardly prioritised, and never adequately resourced,” he said.
Making matters worse, in a number of cases even the tasks given to the peacekeepers as per the mandates of the UNSC are not adequately resourced, making the task of peacekeepers extremely difficult and increasing unnecessary risks of the kind faced in Mali, Lal said.
He further said that the incidents of sexual exploitation and abuse have not only scarred the victims of such abuse but also the UN’s credibility.
“Peacekeepers turning into predators is the worst nightmare come true,” he said calling for nations to step up and contribute to the trust fund for victims of sexual abuse by peacekeepers.