UNITED NATIONS: The UN Security Council, under India's current Presidency, on Wednesday unanimously adopted two significant outcome documents on the issue of peacekeeping, with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar underlining that India believes in "walking the talk" when it comes to safety and security of UN peacekeepers.
Jaishankar, the President of the Security Council, hosted an open-debate on peacekeeping under the theme of 'Protecting the Protectors'.
During the meeting, a Resolution on 'Accountability of Crimes against UN Peacekeepers' as well as a Presidential Statement on Technology for Peacekeeping', the first such UN Security Council document on this topic, was adopted.
The Resolution on accountability for crimes against UN Peacekeepers, drafted by India, was co-sponsored by all the members of the Security Council and a total of over 80 UN Member States, signifying the support of the international community to the issue of peacekeeping, which India has highlighted as one of the priority areas during its current Presidency of the powerful 15-nation body.
Through the Presidential Statement, the UNSC, noting that peacekeepers are deployed in deteriorating and complex political and security environments, and face asymmetrical and complex threats including from terrorism, "stresses the need to leverage the technological tools available to support greater situational awareness of peacekeeping missions".
It also stresses on to support their "front-line peacekeepers through measures to improve information acquisition and analysis capacities, including surveillance and monitoring capacities, that will strengthen capacity to take informed decisions at the tactical, operational and strategic levels, within the limits of their mandate and area of operation and in line with existing United Nations guidelines and regulations and consistent with international law, including international humanitarian law."
The Presidential Statement recognises that peacekeepers operate in challenging and perilous environments, and "expresses grave concern at the security threats and targeted attacks against UN peacekeepers in many peacekeeping missions".
It also condemns in the strongest terms the killing of and all acts of violence against UN peacekeepers, including but not limited to detention and abduction of United Nations personnel serving in peacekeeping operations, recalls that attacks on peacekeepers may constitute war crimes, and pays tribute to all peacekeepers who lost their life while serving with the United Nations.
"The Security Council encourages better integration of existing and new technologies, especially digital technology, to enhance field support, implementation of safety and security, and protection of civilians tasks of Security Council mandates," it said.
It also encourages troop- and police contributing countries and field missions to support field-focused, reliable and cost-effective technologies that are driven by the practical needs of end users on the ground, including taking into consideration a gender perspective, consistent with international human rights law and international humanitarian law, and in this regard stresses the need for consultations with Member States and host countries, as appropriate.
On the occasion, India in coordination with the UN also announced the roll-out of the UNITE Aware Platform, which Jaishankar said is an initiative "based on the expectation that an entire peacekeeping operation can be visualised, coordinated and monitored on a real time basis."
"We should ensure that any attack on a peacekeeper or a civilian is predictable, preventable or responded to immediately."
"We have shown today, both in the roll out of the UNITE Aware Platform, as well as the actionable elements of training incorporated in the MoU, that India believes in walking the talk when it comes to the safety and security of UN peacekeepers," Jaishankar said.
The platform is aimed at helping increase situational awareness and provide terrain related information to peacekeepers.
India has contributed USD 1.64 million towards this project.
India, in partnership with the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Department of Operational Support, has been working towards developing the mobile tech platform 'UNITE AWARE'.
India has partnered with the UN to roll out the UNITE Aware platform initially in four Peacekeeping Missions: MINUSMA (Mali), UNMISS (South Sudan), UNFICYP (Cyprus) and AMISOM (Somalia).
Earlier in the day, an MoU between the Government of India and the UN in support of the 'Partnership for Technology in Peacekeeping' initiative was signed.
The executing agencies for this MoU would be the Center for UN Peacekeeping (CUNPK - on the Indian side) and UN C4ISR Academy for Peace Operations (Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) based in Entebbe (Uganda) on the UN's side.
The MoU was exchanged between India's Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador T S Tirumurti and Under-Secretary-General for Operational Support Atul Khare during a solemn ceremony at the UN Peacekeepers Memorial.
Jaishankar laid a wreath at the memorial and was joined by Guterres paid homage to the UN peacekeepers who have lost their lives over the years in line of duty.
In his address to the open debate, Jaishankar said it is the Security Council that sends peacekeepers across continents to 'keep the peace' and implement the mandate that it decides.
"It is therefore the duty of this very august body to also ensure that we provide them the means to implement that mandate."
"Landmark UN #SecurityCouncil resolution to 'Protect the Protectors'. Thank all #UNSC members for contribution & active engagement to strengthen protection of UN peacekeepers. Thank all co-sponsors & other member states for readily coming forward to support resolution," Tirumurti tweeted.