By Arul Louis
United Nations, Sep 9 | India has said that countries emerging into a phase of stability after UN peacekeeping operations should be allowed to set their priorities for nation-building with a “human centric” approach.
“India’s approach to peacebuilding is to respect national ownership and to be guided by host state’s development priorities,” Minister of State for External Affairs Meenakshi Lekhi told the UN Security Council on Wednesday.
She was speaking at Council president Ireland’s signature event on transitions from UN peacekeeping operations, where Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also emphasised the importance of the need to tailor the ending of operations to the conditions on the ground.
“Peacekeeping missions can help put a country on the right track, but only local stakeholders can keep it there in the long-term,” Guterres said.
Addressing the Council, Lekhi said: “Full respect for the full sovereignty of a country can never be overemphasised. The transition strategies should recognise the primacy of national governments and national ownership in identifying and driving priorities.
“We are convinced that ‘human centric’, gender sensitive and technologically primed solutions and the robust functioning of democratic institutions of governance that give all stakeholders a saying in creating a better future is the biggest guarantee for the success of peacebuilding and for sustaining peace.”
The Council meeting focused on the crucial phase of the ending of peacekeeping operations that have brought stability to a conflict-torn country when the work of the UN and other agencies switch to peacebuilding or helping the country rebuild itself and govern itself effectively.
Lekhi said: “The drawdown of a UN peacekeeping operation and its reconfiguration into a modified minimal presence represents a critical phase for the success of a UN peacekeeping mission for the host country. On the one hand, t signals progress towards political stability and new development opportunities but on the other hand it also presents a real risk of the country relapsing into conflict.”
It is important to actively support the post-conflict peacebuilding and recovery initiatives of the countries that hosted the peacekeeping operations, she said.
“The efforts of the UN in peacebuilding should be strengthened by providing it adequate financial resources if necessary by engaging international financial institutions, the private sector and civil society organisations.”
Representing a national that is a leading technology innovator, the Minister said: “Technology, especially digital technology, can play a crucial role in post-conflict peacebuilding to improve public service promote transparency in governance and enhance the reach of democracy promote human rights and gender sensitivity.”
She said that the drawdown of the peacekeeping operations should not be rushed due to “temptations of austerity” because if the country were to relapse into the situation that in the first place necessitated the UN intervention the costs would be higher.
Lekhi noted it was critical to have an effective mandate for the peacekeeping mission and achieve the benchmark transition.
A country transitioning from peacekeeping to peacebuilding should be given adequate resources mobilised through international financial institutions, the private sector and civil society organisations.
Lekhi empasised the importance of political solutions to the roots of the conflict to achieve peace and stability.
“Political stakeholders should strive for the creation of political and administrative institutions that imrve governance and provide equal political opportunities for women, youth as well as marginalised and the underprivileged.”
Lekhi spoke of India’s commitment to peacekeeping seen in the over 250,000 peacekeepers it has sent to 49 operations, with over 5,500 serving now across nine missions.
India has also sent the first all-women contingent to a UN mission, which was deployed in Liberia becoming a role model for women and girls.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, India contributed vaccines for all peacekeepers and upgraded two of its field hospitals, she said.
(Arul Louis can be reached at email@example.com and followed @arulouis)