Peacekeeping is an Exemplary Demonstration of India’s Leadership and Moral Courage on the Global Stage
May 29, 2019
Renata Lok-Dessallien, United Nations India Resident Coordinator on the International Day of UN Peacekeepers
Excellencies, Peacekeepers, Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Namaste and a very good morning to you all.
I feel very privileged to join you today in honoring the courage and commitment of the UN Blue Helmets; the very best and bravest of the UN, and the vanguard of our collective effort, as a global community, to keep the peace, to protect the vulnerable, and to prevent violence and war.
Peacekeeping is one of the core mandates of the UN, and it is also one of the most exemplary demonstrations of India’s leadership and moral courage on the global stage. Over 200,000 Indian peacekeepers have served in 50 UN peacekeeping missions in the course of the UN’s history. An extraordinary contribution!
Today, India is the fourth largest troop contributor to UN peacekeeping. Over 6,400 personnel from India are serving in 10 missions in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, Haiti, Lebanon, Cyprus, South Sudan, Abyei, the Middle East, and Western Sahara.
They stand between civilians and armed conflict, in some of the most complex security environments around the world.
And they do more. They engage in laying the foundations of sustainable, long term, peace. They facilitate political processes, they implement complex peace agreements, they support elections, they help restore the rule of law, they uphold human rights, they support vital state-building functions, they disarm and rehabilitate former combatants and child soldiers, they ensure the safe movement of humanitarian relief and convoys, and they protect the displaced.
In addition to the sheer number of Indian peacekeepers and the spread of their responsibilities, I would like to take this opportunity to highlight a few other contributions that India makes to UN Peacekeeping:
In 2016, India set an example to generations of police officers and young women everywhere by deploying the world’s first female Formed Police Unit to the peacekeeping mission in Liberia where they served during the Ebola crisis. India was also the first country to contribute to the Trust Fund to help victims of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse by Peacekeepers. India has also helped build capacity through its training programmes for prospective peacekeepers from 35 countries, with special courses for African countries and for female peacekeepers.
India also makes a critical contribution to the Peacekeeping Budget.
And India continues to stress the urgency of making peacekeeping fit for purpose and she speaks for many countries in advocating institutionalized consultations with Troop Contributing Countries during the formulation of mission mandates.
As we commemorate the International Day of Peacekeeping today, it is my honour now to read out this year’s message of the UN Secretary-General:
UN Secretary-General’s Message for the International Day of Peacekeepers
Today we honour more than 1 million men and women who have served as United Nations peacekeepers since our first mission in 1948. We remember the more than 3,800 personnel who paid the ultimate price. And we express our deepest gratitude to the 100,000 civilian, police and military peacekeepers deployed around the world today, and to the countries that contribute these brave and dedicated women and men.
This year, the United Nations marks 20 years since the Security Council first mandated a peacekeeping mission to protect civilians. Peacekeepers protect men, women and children from violence every day, often at great personal risk. In that same spirit, on this International Day, the Captain Mbaye Diagne Medal for Exceptional Courage is being awarded for the first time. We pay tribute to Private Chancy Chitete, a Malawian who served in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and died trying to save the life of a fellow peacekeeper.
United Nations peacekeeping is a vital investment in global peace and security. But, it requires strong international commitment. That is why we launched the “Action for Peacekeeping” initiative, which aims to make our missions stronger, safer and fit for the future.
For millions in conflict-affected situations around the world, peacekeeping is a necessity and a hope. Let us work together to make peacekeeping more effective in protecting people and advancing peace.
While this is the end of the SG’s international message this year, a few days ago at the commemorations in New York, the SG went on to pay special tribute to the sacrifice of Indian peacekeepers on this solemn occasion. He said “My message is of gratitude for the enormous contribution that India has been giving to all causes of the United Nations, but in particular to peacekeeping and I express my enormous admiration for the courage and the spirit of sacrifice of Indian peacekeepers – women and men, a high percentage of women – in support of the ideals of the UN”
Last year, 119 military, police, and civilian peacekeepers laid down their lives serving with distinction and courage. Among them tragically was Indian Police Officer Jitender Kumar, who served with the UN Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO), and who has been posthumously awarded the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal this year. Over the years 164 Indian Peacekeepers have made the supreme sacrifice in their fight to protect civilians. The world owes them and their families an enormous debt of gratitude.
For this extraordinary contribution of India and its Peacekeepers, I echo the Secretary-General in saying to you, and to India; a most heartfelt “Dhanyawaad”