‘Peacekeeping operations most visible aspect of UN’

May 21st, 2008 - 8:33 pm ICT by admin  

Hyderabad, May 21 (IANS) UN peacekeeping operations, which began as a cautious attempt, have today become the most visible aspect of the world body, a top military commander said Wednesday. “The United Nations began its peacekeeping activities when Cold War politics had paralysed decision making in the Security Council,” the Indian Air Force (IAF) chief, Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major said.

“It was a brave attempt by the nascent organisation and what began as a cautious attempt, has today become, the most visible aspect of the UN, determining its image in public perception,” he added.

Major was speaking at the inaugural session of Exercise Aman Sena-08 at the College of Defence Management (CDM) here. Eighteen countries including India are participating in the exercise.

Speaking about the unique nature of UN peacekeeping operations, which reflect universal objectives rather than partisan interests, the IAF chief said: “The most successful model is based on the consent of the host state.

“The consensual approach to peacekeeping is as relevant today as it has been in the past,” he added.

According to Major, peacekeeping efforts “do not necessarily depend on preponderance of force at the UN’s command. Support of a broad spectrum of the international community is essential for their success.

“The UN system reflects this multilateral approach,” he added.

Exercise Aman Sena is a pioneering effort by the CDM under the aegis of Headquarters Integrated Defence Staff of the defence ministry. Ninety offices are participating in the exercise to share experiences of UN peacekeeping operations and to develop a common understanding of the framework and procedures in such operations.

“The exercise also intends to provide a platform to the participating countries for closer cooperation, synergy, meeting of minds and for working together in pursuance of larger international interests,” a defence ministry statement said.

In his keynote address, Air Marshal D. Kukreja, the Deputy Chief of Integrated Defence Staff, noted that globalisation and associated phenomena such as transnational crimes and environmental degradation had put many weak, social, economic and political structures under unbearable strain.

“However, with globalisation, the troubles of distant countries are almost instantly transferred to one’s homeland - be it in the form of loss of trade, disruption of oil supplies or threats to the diaspora,” he added.

Contributing to peace and stability has traditionally been a role for defence forces and UN peacekeeping is in coherence with that, Kukreja maintained.

“The armed forces will continue to play a vital role in peacekeeping operations,” he said, adding: “For those physically involved in such operations it is difficult and often dangerous work in very challenging conditions.”

Noting that peacekeeping operations were multinational in character and that each of these countries involved had their own unique culture and modus operandi, Kukreja said this placed a premium on defence cooperation and interoperability.

“Exercises such as Aman Sena play an important role in sharing experiences and developing a common outlook as well as establishing invaluable professional links,” he added.

India has consistently supported the UN’s peacekeeping activities, providing more than 90,000 troops to 43 missions.

“India’s participation in peacekeeping is not based on strategic interest but flows from a commitment to the United Nations and establishment of world peace,” the defence ministry statement said.

Currently, some 9,000 Indian armed forces’ personnel are deployed on UN peacekeeping operations in major hotspots like the Sudan, the Congo, Lebanon and Ethiopia/Eritrea.

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