New Delhi, Dec 5: Ministers and delegates hailing from over 85 countries and international organizations convene today in Accra, Ghana, marking the initiation of the 2023 United Nations Peacekeeping Ministerial meeting.
This pivotal event, hosted jointly by the United Nations and Ghana, is the fifth ministerial-level meeting of its kind and holds the distinction of being the first to transpire on the African continent.
Representing India at this significant gathering is Mr. Ajay Bhatt, the State Defence Minister. The meeting serves as a platform for global leaders to reaffirm their collective commitment to UN peacekeeping initiatives.
Coordinated with the ongoing reforms encapsulated in the Action for Peacekeeping and the Action for Peacekeeping Plus implementation plan, the Ministerial meeting seeks to garner essential political support and tangible commitments to fortify UN peacekeeping endeavours in addressing current and future challenges.
India has been demanding changes and a place in decision-making other than contributing its troops to the UN Peacekeeping forces. Some years ago, India was the highest contributor of troops to the UN Peacekeepers.
Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, highlighted the political nature of peacekeeping, emphasizing the need for united and active engagement from Member States.
As missions grapple with unprecedented challenges, the Ministerial meeting emerges as a crucial opportunity for Member States to showcase their support and make substantial pledges to enhance the effectiveness of peacekeeping efforts.
This year’s agenda spotlights key issues such as the advancement of sustainable peace, the protection of civilians, strategic communications, and the enhancement of safety and mental health for peacekeepers.
Additionally, Member States and the UN collaborate to refine the environmental management of UN peacekeeping operations and augment the deployment of women peacekeepers for more diversified and inclusive missions.
The Accra meeting aligns with a series of high-level events where world leaders have pledged resources to assist missions in fully realizing their mandates.
These gatherings have resulted in substantial contributions, including rapidly deployable military units, essential aviation assets, improved medical capacities, and progress in advancing the women, peace, and security agenda.
Since 1948, over 2 million peacekeepers from 158 countries have participated in 71 operations. Presently, nearly 80,000 individuals from over 120 countries strive to build peace in conflict zones across Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East.
Tragically, more than 4,200 peacekeepers have lost their lives in service under the United Nations flag. India, a stalwart supporter of UN peacekeeping missions, remains at the forefront by consistently deploying a significant number of troops and equipment.
During the meeting, the Indian Defence Minister will engage in bilateral discussions with counterparts from other member countries to strengthen defence cooperation.
Additionally, he will connect with the Indian community in Accra, reinforcing India’s commitment to global peacekeeping efforts. India’s unwavering dedication to peacekeeping is underscored by its participation in 49 missions, contributing over 200,000 troops. More than 160 Indian peacekeepers have made the sacrifice, with India having the highest number of casualties among peacekeeping nations.
On the sidelines of the meeting, the Defence Minister will hold bilateral talks, discussing defence cooperation matters to further strengthen engagements.
In July 2023, three Indian peacekeepers, including two Border Security Force personnel, were posthumously honoured by the United Nations with the Dag Hammarskjold Medal for their “supreme sacrifice” in the line of duty.
This recognition is a poignant reminder of the significant contributions and sacrifices made by Indian peacekeepers in various UN peacekeeping operations over the last 70 years.