UNSC unanimously adopts significant Presidential Statement, Resolution on peacekeeping, as India presides over Council

Dr. S. Jaishankar chaired the UNSC Open Debate on Technology and Peacekeeping, in New York on August 18, 2021.

Dr. S. Jaishankar chaired the UNSC Open Debate on Technology and Peacekeeping, in New York on August 18, 2021.

The UN Security Council, currently being presided over by India, on Wednesday, for the first time unanimously adopted a resolution on ensuring accountability for crimes committed against the UN peacekeepers. The council also called on Member States, hosting peacekeeping operations, to bring to justice perpetrators responsible for killing and committing acts of violence against the Blue Helmets.

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar chaired an open-debate, with the theme, 'Protecting the Protectors: Technology and Peacekeeping', the second signature event held as India presides over the powerful 15-member UN body for the month of August.

At the meeting, two significant outcome documents were unanimously adopted and overwhelmingly supported - a Presidential Statement on 'Peacekeeping and Technology' and a Resolution on 'Accountability of crimes against UN Peacekeepers.'

In line with India's focus on peacekeeping, the Presidential Statement (PRST) in the UNSC was the first to be adopted that focused exclusively on utilising technology to assist peacekeepers.

The PRST encourages the use of modern technology for improving the performance, safety and security of peacekeepers who are operating in increasingly complex and risky environments.

Through the resolution, the Security Council "calls upon Member States hosting or having hosted United Nations peacekeeping operations to take all appropriate measures in accordance with their national law and international law as applicable to bring to justice perpetrators of the killing of, and all acts of violence against United Nations personnel, including, but not limited to, their detention and abduction." This was the first such Security Council resolution that calls for prevention, investigation and prosecution to bring the perpetrators to justice.

India initiated the first resolution in the UNSC this year, which was co-sponsored by all the UNSC members 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 Council.

The resolution urged all parties to fully respect their obligations under international law.

The resolution also encouraged Member States, including troop and police contributing countries whose personnel have been the victims of the killing and other acts of violence against the UN personnel, to actively engage and share information with the Secretary-General, consistent with their national law, to assist Member States hosting or having hosted peacekeeping operations, in bringing to justice the perpetrators of such acts.

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”.

During the signature event, India in coordination with the UN also rolled out a unique technology platform aimed at enhancing security and safety of peacekeepers.

The UNITE AWARE platform helps increase situational awareness and provides terrain-related information to peacekeepers.

Mr. Jaishankar, addressing reporters at the Security Council stakeout after the open debate, said that the UNITE AWARE is a situational awareness software programme that will utilise modern surveillance technology for real time threat assessments to the peacekeepers and help them enhance their security. Through the platform, entire peacekeeping operation can be visualised, coordinated and monitored on a real time basis, it will record data on critical incidents and events. This will access live video and satellite imagery and in very volatile circumstances, also deliver early warnings to the peacekeepers.

He said that this platform will initially be deployed in four Peacekeeping Missions: MINUSMA (Mali), UNMISS (South Sudan), UNFICYP (Cyprus) and AMISOM (Somalia).

India has partnered with the UN and contributed $1.64 million in the roll-out of the UNITE AWARE platform.

As part of India’s initiative towards training and capacity building of peacekeepers in the sphere of technology, an MoU was signed between India and the UN in support to the -'Partnership for Technology in Peacekeeping' initiative and to UN C4ISR – UN Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Academy for Peace Operations (UNCAP) based in Entebbe, Uganda.

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.

Mr. Jaishankar laid a wreath at the memorial and paid homage to the UN peacekeepers who have lost their lives over the years in line of duty. He was joined by the UN Secretary, General Antonio Guterres

Speaking at the ceremony, Mr. Guterres said that more than one million men and women have served under the blue flag of the United Nations since 1948.

"More than 4,000 peacekeepers have lost their lives in the line of duty. Among them are 174 Indian peacekeepers, the highest number of all the troop-contributing countries. We are forever grateful for their service. Their remarkable work, and ultimate sacrifice, will never be forgotten,” he said.

In his address to the open debate in his national capacity, Mr. Jaishankar said, "It is this 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”.

"We have shown today, both in the rollout 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 peackeepers.

"We hope that in our discussions today, we get an equally strong reaffirmation of the UN’s intent as well,” Jaishankar added.

Wednesday's debate was the second signature event held under India's presidency in August.

The first signature event under India's UNSC presidency was held on August 9, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired the High-level Open Debate on ‘Enhancing Maritime Security - A Case for International Cooperation’. The third event, on August 19, will be a high-level briefing on 'Threats to International Peace and Security caused by Terrorist Acts'.

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