Pakistan’s commitment to UN peacekeeping mission not only entails troops deployment, but also policy decisions as well. Pakistan has remained a leading country to introduce several policy measures to UN peacekeeping missions to enhance their efficiency and effectiveness.
The concept of “collective security” enshrined in the United Nations (UN) Charter was operationally manifested in the initial peace observer missions deployed in certain conflict zones, such as Palestine and Jammu and Kashmir.
The United Nations Military Observer Group for India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) was established by the Security Council in 1948 to observe ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir after the first Pakistan-India war. It is now the oldest UN peacekeeping mission. Its presence along the ceasefire line – called the Line of Control (LoC) after the Simla Agreement – is a manifestation of the internationally recognized disputed status of Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan extends all possible cooperation to UNMOGIP in the performance of its peace observation mandate. We have proposed that to enable UNMOGIP to effectively perform its mandate, the number of UN observers should be increased from its present 30 to at least several hundred.
India has failed in its efforts to eliminate UNMOGIP’s presence and mandate. The UNMOGIP’s role is authorized by the UN Security Council and can be changed only by the Council. India’s alternate strategy has been to reduce the UN budgetary allocations for UNMOGIP which has also been repeatedly frustrated by Pakistan in the UN General Assembly’s Budgetary Committee. Yet, India continues to obstruct and impede UNMOGIP’s role. It does not allow the UN observers to patrol along the LoC, restricting its presence to Srinagar; it delays the issuance of visas for the UN personnel, and resorts to their constant harassment.
Pakistan’s Consistent Participation in UN Peacekeeping
While hosting this oldest UN peacekeeping mission, Pakistan is also one of the earliest providers of peacekeepers to the UN. In 1960, Pakistan sent its first peacekeeping contingent to the Congo. It also provided the principal peacekeeping contingent to oversee Indonesia’s transition to independence from colonial rule. Indeed, Pakistani peacekeepers have participated in every two out of three UN peacekeeping missions. Over the years, Pakistan has deployed over 200,000 peacekeepers in 47 UN peacekeeping missions. At times, Pakistan has had up to 10,000 peacekeepers deployed on UN missions. Today, approximately 4,000 Pakistani peacekeepers are deployed in several UN missions – The united Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS), United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA), United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), and United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP). One-hundred and sixty eight Pakistan’s peacekeepers, including one woman peacekeeper, have made the ultimate sacrifice in support of international peace and security.
While hosting this oldest `UN peacekeeping operation, Pakistan is also one of the earliest providers of peacekeepers to the UN. In 1960, Pakistan sent its first peacekeeping contingent to the Congo.
Despite deployment in some of the most challenging security environments, Pakistani peacekeepers have maintained the highest standards of performance, displaying professional competence, courage, ingenuity and reliability in discharging their responsibilities. We should take considerable pride in the contributions made by Pakistani peacekeepers in preserving and promoting peace and security in such places as Sierra Leone, Burundi, Timor-Leste and Liberia.
Peacekeeping to Peace Enforcement
Over the years, the nature of UN peacekeeping has changed significantly. The early UN missions were largely limited to the observation of ceasefires in inter-state conflicts, such as in Jammu and Kashmir. Peacekeepers were lightly armed. The role of UN peacekeeping changed after the UN Security Council decided to deploy UN peacekeepers in several intra-state, or “internal” conflicts within states, such as in Somalia in the 1990s. Now, the majority of peacekeeping missions are deployed to maintain peace and prevent conflict within a number of states, largely in Africa, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the Sahel countries – such as Mali, Central African Republic, Chad as well as in the adjacent Darfur region of Sudan and in South Sudan.
In these situations, the security environment is usually fragile, with intermittent and, often intense irregular conflict. Often, there is no “peace to keep”. The mandate of UN missions has moved to include not so much peace “observation” as peace “enforcement”. It also involves a wide range of tasks, such as assisting the host country in introducing security sector reforms; protection of civilians, especially vulnerable groups such as women and children; humanitarian assistance, and disarmament, demobilization and re-integration (DDR) of armed groups and militias operating in these countries, some of which are associated with political opposition forces and others linked with extremist and terrorist groups or criminal gangs and bandits.
In response to the nature of the security environment in such intra-state conflicts, which, as in the Sahel, also comprise cross-border threats, the nature of the UN deployments has also changed. Rather than large formations, UN peacekeepers are mostly deployed in small sized, mobile and technology-intensive units. Peacekeeping has morphed into peace operations and, increasingly, peace enforcement.
The mandates of all UN peacekeeping missions are decided by the Security Council. In taking such decisions, the Council takes into account the professional assessment and advice of the UN’s peacekeeping and peacekeeping support offices, headed by 2 UN Under-Secretaries-General, and the UN Military Adviser, usually a three-star General from a member state. A Pakistani General last served as the UN’s Military Adviser from 2013 to 2016.
Troops Contributing Countries (TCC) also play an active role in norm setting and policy issues relating to UN peacekeeping through the Special Committee on Peace Operations (C-34), as well in a Ministerial peacekeeping process and separate TCC meetings. Pakistan plays a leading role in these processes. As President of the Security Council in 2014, Pakistan promoted the adoption of a landmark resolution (SC Res. 2086) on “multi-dimensional peacekeeping”. In 2005, Pakistan was also a founding member of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) which brings together TCC with the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council.
In response to the changing nature of UN peacekeeping, in 2018, the UN initiated the “Action for Peacekeeping” (A4P) initiative which set out the priorities for UN peacekeeping, namely: Politics, Protection, Safety and Security and Partnerships.
The UN is deploying an increasing number of special political missions in conflict affected countries. The A4P initiative also emphasizes that political solutions must guide the design and deployment of peacekeeping missions. They should be driven by a well-defined political strategy. Pakistan supports this view. We have called for action at two levels to achieve this objective: First, at the strategic level, where the Security Council should provide mandates with clearly defined political goals; Second, at the operational level, where the Secretariat and peacekeeping missions should support local, regional and international peace processes, including through the use of good offices and mediation. Pakistan has also underlined the need for more frequent consultations between the Security Council, TCC’s and Secretariat to ensure informed decision-making on peacekeeping mandates and resources. Our position has evoked support from China and several other like-minded countries.
In the current operations, the protection of civilians (POC) has become a central objective of peacekeeping. Peacekeepers are expected to protect host populations even if this requires the use of force. Pakistani peacekeepers have delivered on the mandate to protect civilians, including MONUSCO, MINUSCA and UNISFA. They have also supported host governments in promoting the protection of civilians.
Security Council decided to deploy UN peacekeepers in several intra-state, or “internal” conflicts within states, such as in Somalia in the 1990s.
However, as a responsible TCC, Pakistan has maintained that while certain situations require peacekeepers to resort to force, it should be used only on an exceptional basis. In our view, effective patrolling, strategic communications, security sector reform, capacity building of host government and peacebuilding initiatives, such as reconciliation, dialogue and DDR, can serve to prevent attacks on civilians and obviate the use of force by the blue helmets. To promote harmonious environment, Pakistani peacekeepers have organized free medical camps, built public parks and restored schools and roads.
Safety and Security
Due to a surge in fatalities among peacekeepers, concerns have arisen for the safety and security of peacekeepers. Twenty-four peacekeepers died in 2021 and 16 already in the first quarter of 2022. A leading cause was Improvised Explosive Device (IED) attacks. In response, UN peacekeepers have been equipped with specialized capabilities in counter-IED and mine action.
With around 4,000 troops currently deployed in UN peacekeeping operations, Pakistan has championed the safety and security of peacekeepers at the UN. In October 2021, Pakistan with the Netherlands, hosted a high-level peacekeeping meeting on ‘safety and security and protection’. The meeting underlined that the protection of peacekeepers was a collective responsibility of the Security Council, host countries, TCCs and the UN Secretariat. To ensure the safety of peacekeepers, the mission’s mandate should be realistic and achievable; it should be equipped with adequate human resources, leadership skill and appropriate training and equipment. In this context, Pakistan has offered to share its rich counter-IED experience and helped the UN in preparing the 2021 manual for the Military Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Unit.
The A4P initiative underlines the growing importance of both bilateral and multilateral partnerships, especially between the United Nations and regional organizations. Partnerships have taken various forms in recent years. Hybrid missions consisting of troops from African Union and the United Nations is one example. Similarly, co-deployments could take place with one member state deploying troops while the other provides equipment. Pakistan was part of the AU-UN hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID). We have also supported the Triangular Partnership Program (TPP) and Light Coordination Mechanism (LCM) managed by the UN Secretariat which extends training assistance to the TCCs.
Pakistan views partnerships as an expression of multilateralism. For several years now, we have hosted peacekeeping training programs for international participants at our premier training Institute, the Center for International Peace and Stability (CIPS) in Islamabad. The institute offers a host of capacity building opportunities in the areas of leadership, gender, protection of civilians and community engagement. CIPS has also expanded its network of partnerships with the training centers in other countries and with the UN Secretariat and other UN entities, such as the UN Women.
Due to the UN Secretary-General’s advocacy, the percentage of women has increased progressively in UN peacekeeping missions and in leadership roles, such as UN Special Representatives and Special Envoys. Pakistan has pressed for greater representation of women from developing countries and stepped up efforts to include more women in our peacekeeping contingents. We have successfully achieved the target of 50 percent female representation in our community engagement platoons deployed in various peacekeeping missions.
Pakistan has offered to share its rich counter-IED experience and helped the UN in preparing the 2021 manual for the Military Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Unit.
Some of our female peacekeepers have already made a mark. Ms. Shahzadi Gulfam of the Pakistan Police received the International Female Police Peacekeeper Award in 2011 for exceptional services in Bosnia, Kosovo and Timor-Leste. In Liberia, Pakistani lady doctors extended outstanding support to local communities during the Ebola crisis in 2014-15. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Pakistan’s Female Engagement Team (FET) carried out several women empowerment initiatives. In 2021, Ms. Helena Iqbal became the first female police officer from Pakistan to be appointed as Police Commissioner in a UN peacekeeping mission.
The peacekeeping landscape is changing rapidly and it is critical for Pakistan to adapt to these changes through a multifaceted strategy.
▪ First, we should make a concerted effort to secure senior leadership positions both at the UN Secretariat and in the field.
▪ Second, we should develop new partnerships, for example, in peacekeeping technology, peacekeeping training, especially in counter-IED’s and mine action, training of new TCC’s, and support for security sector reform in African partner countries. We should also explore co-deployment with African and new TCC’s from Central Asia.
▪ Third, Pakistan should pledge more Formed Police Units (FPUs) with specialized expertise in community policing, crime analysis, forensics, investigation, special weapons and tactics (SWAT) and guard units. Policing has become an integral part of peacekeeping and police units will become a larger part of UN peacekeepers in the future. India, Bangladesh, Egypt, Jordan and Nepal have dedicated police training centers for the capacity building of FPU’s. We must also develop such an institution to train our police personnel.
▪ Four, we should continue to recruit, train and deploy more female peacekeepers, especially as part of community engagement teams in peacekeeping theatres.
▪ Five, we may promote a peacekeeping role for the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in the conflict-affected Muslim countries, such as Somalia and in the Sahel. Cultural and religious affinity can enhance the effectiveness of peacekeepers.
▪ Six, we must promote CIPS as a state-of-the-art international training center for peacekeepers, including through partnerships with the UN and friendly countries.
▪ Seven, we should endeavour to enlarge the size and effectiveness of UNMOGIP through consistent efforts with the UN Secretary-General and member states.
▪Finally, the role and capacity of the GHQ’s Military Operations Directorate could be further strengthened to enable Pakistan to fulfill its growing responsibilities in UN peacekeeping.
The writer is presently serving as the Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations and President of the Economic and Social Council. During his long career he has served as Pakistan’s Ambassador to various countries, different intergovernmental organizations and the UN including Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York, after serving as Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva.
E-mail: [email protected]
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