Explained: India’s role in UN Peacekeeping Missions over the years

Two BSF employees who were part of the UN peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) were among five people killed during a protest in an eastern town near the Ugandan border on Tuesday (July 26).

So far, a total of 175 Indian peacekeepers have died while serving with the United Nations. India has lost more peacekeepers than any other UN member state.

“Deeply saddened by the loss of lives of two brave Indian BSF peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of Congo. They were part of MONUSCO. The perpetrators of these outrageous attacks must be held accountable and brought to justice. Deepest condolences to the bereaved,” Foreign Minister S Jaishankar posted on Twitter.

The two BSF men have been identified as Chief Commissioner Shishupal Singh and Chief Commissioner Sanwala Ram Vishnoi.

“DG BSF and all ranks express their condolences on the sad passing of HC Shishupal Singh & HC Sanwala Ram Vishnoi on July 26, 2022, deployed to UN Peace Keeping Contingent (@MONUSCO) in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Prahari Parivar stands by their families in these difficult times,” said a tweet from the BSF on Wednesday (July 27).

According to the BSF, Tuesday’s protest in Butembo was part of a week-long call for demonstrations and agitation against the UN mission MONUSCO.

United Nations Peacekeeping

Since 1948, UN peacekeepers have undertaken 71 field missions. There are currently approximately 81,820 personnel employed by 13 UNDPO-led peacekeeping operations on four continents. That is a tenfold increase since 1999.

A total of 119 countries have contributed military and police personnel to UN peacekeeping. Currently, 72,930 of those serving are troops and military observers, and about 8,890 are police personnel.

India’s contribution to UN peacekeeping

India has a long history of service in UN peacekeeping, employing more personnel than any other country. To date, more than 2.53,000 Indians have served in 49 of the 71 UN peacekeeping missions established around the world since 1948.

Currently, there are about 5,500 troops and police from India deployed on UN peacekeeping missions, the fifth highest among the troop-contributing countries.

India has also provided and continues to provide eminent force commanders for UN missions. India is the fifth largest troop contributor (TCC) with 5,323 personnel deployed in 8 of the 13 active UN peacekeeping missions, including 166 police personnel.

* India’s contribution to UN peacekeeping began with its participation in the UN operation in Korea in the 1950s, where India’s mediating role in resolving the stalemate over prisoners of war in Korea led to the signing of the ceasefire that ended the Korean War. India chaired the five-member Neutral Nations Repatriation Commission, while the Indian Custodian Force oversaw the interview and repatriation process that followed.

* The UN entrusted the Indian Armed Forces with subsequent peacekeeping missions in the Middle East, Cyprus and Congo (since 1971, Zaire).

* India also chaired the three international supervisory and control committees for Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, established by the 1954 Geneva Agreements on Indochina.

The role of women in Indian peacekeeping

India has sent female personnel on UN peacekeeping missions. In 2007, India became the first country to deploy an all-women contingent to a UN peacekeeping mission. The formed police unit in Liberia provided 24-hour surveillance and night patrols in the capital Monrovia, and helped build the capacity of the Liberian police.

These female officers not only played a role in restoring security in the West African country, but also contributed to an increase in the number of women in Liberia’s security sector.

Medical care as part of India’s missions

In addition to their security role, members of the Indian Formed Police Unit also organized medical camps for Liberians, many of whom have limited access to health services.

Medical care is one of the many services that Indian peacekeepers provide to the communities in which they serve on behalf of the organization. They also perform specialized tasks such as veterinary support and technical services.

Indian vets serving with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) stepped up to help pastoralists who lost much of their livestock to malnutrition and disease in the war-torn country. The Indian contingent in South Sudan has provided vocational training and life-saving medical assistance, as well as major road repairs.

In September 2020, based on an urgent request from the UN Secretariat, India deployed two medical teams of 15 medical personnel each to Goma (DRC) and Juba (South Sudan). MONUSCO’s main command and control center is located in Goma, DRC.

The Hospital by India in Goma, operational since January 2005, has 90 Indian citizens, including 18 specialists.

Recognition of Indian Efforts

The Indian contingent in the Upper Nile region (including the Indian Battalion, the Horizontal Mechanical Engineering Company, the Level II Hospital, the Petroleum Platoon and the Force Signal Unit) have all received UN Medals of Honor.

India has supplied 17 Force Commanders to various missions. In addition to the troop commanders, India also had the honor of supplying two military advisers, a female police adviser and a deputy military adviser to the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

India was the first country to contribute to the Sexual Exploitation and Abuse Trust Fund established in 2016.

India’s Vision for UN Peacekeeping

India believes that the international community needs to understand the rapid changes underway in the nature and role of contemporary peacekeeping operations. The Security Council’s mandates for UN peacekeeping operations must be rooted in the reality on the ground, and consistent with the resources available for the peacekeeping operation.

It is critical that troop and police contributing countries are fully involved at all stages and in all aspects of mission planning. According to officials, there should be more financial and human resources for peacebuilding in post-conflict societies where UNPKOs are mandated.

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