President Barack Obama, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Excellencies,
The foundations of the United Nations were laid by the brave soldiers on the battlefields of Second World War. By 1945, they included 2.5 million men of the Indian Army, the largest volunteer force in history. More than 24000 lost their lives and nearly half of that went missing.
The legacy of that sacrifice is shared by three countries present here. They remain today among the largest contributors to the United Nations Peacekeeping Operations.
Over 180,000 Indian troops have participated in UN peacekeeping missions – more than from any other country. India has participated in 48 of the 69 UN peacekeeping missions so far. 161 Indian peacekeepers have made the supreme sacrifice while serving in UN missions.
India was the first country to contribute a Female Formed Police Unit to UN Mission in Liberia. India has been providing training to peacekeeping officers from a large number of countries. Till date, we have trained nearly 800 officers from 82 countries.
I thank President Obama for hosting this Summit on Peacekeeping. It is timely not just because of the 70th anniversary of the organization. It is also because the security environment is changing, the demands on peacekeeping are growing and the resources are harder to find.
Today’s peacekeepers are called upon not only to maintain peace and security, but also address a range of complex challenges. Mandates are ambitious; but, resources are often inadequate. Mandates sometimes make peacekeepers party to conflicts, putting at risk their lives and success of their missions.
The problems arise to a large extent because Troop Contributing Countries do not have a role in the decision-making process. They do not have adequate representation in senior management and as Force Commanders. Peacekeeping missions should be deployed prudently, with full recognition of their limitations and in support of political solutions.
We are pleased that the High-level Independent Panel on Peace Operations has recognized these issues. We thank UN Secretary General for his prompt report on the Panel’s recommendations. We look forward to their early consideration. India’s commitment to UN Peacekeeping remains strong and will grow. We have announced new intended contributions that to the UN Peacekeeping Operations.
These include additional battalion of up to 850 troops in existing or new operations; additional 03 Police units with higher representation of female peacekeepers; commitment to provide critical enablers; deployment of technical personnel in UN missions; and, additional training for peacekeepers at our facilities in India and in the field.
In conclusion, l wish to emphasise that the success of UN peacekeeping ultimately depends not on the weapons that the soldiers carry, but on the moral force that decisions of the UN Security Council command.
We must complete the long-pending task of reforms within a fixed time frame of the UN Security Council to preserve the relevance and effectiveness of the UN.
I would like to pay homage to the peacekeepers who have laid down their lives in defending the highest ideals of the United Nations. It would be most fitting if the proposed memorial wall to the fallen peacekeepers is created quickly. India stands ready to contribute, including financially, to this objective.