NEW YORK: Pakistan has called for an expansion in the United Nations (UN) Military Observer Group in Pakistan and India to counter the rising threats to peace and security in the region.
Speaking in the Special Committee on Peacekeeping, Pakistan’s permanent Ambassador to UN Maleeha Lodhi said that the UN Mission, UNMOGIP is a critical factor for stability in the region. “This needs to be expanded to respond to existing threats and realities”, she stressed.
She reiterated Pakistan’s unflinching support to UN peacekeeping, both as one of its largest and consistent contributors and also as the host of one of the UN’s oldest peacekeeping missions, UNMOGIP.
The Special Committee on Peacekeeping is a unique forum that brings together all peacekeeping stakeholders, troop and police contributors, financial contributors, Security Council members and the UN Secretariat to discuss every aspect of peacekeeping. Lodhi emphasised the need to address the root causes of conflict to bring about lasting peace. Peacekeeping, she said, needs to be strengthened through support for political solutions and mediation processes. “The goal of protection of civilians is best served by preventing the outbreak of armed conflicts in the first place, addressing the root causes of conflicts, and finding inclusive political solutions to disputes”, she added.
The ambassador criticised the recent cuts in the UN peacekeeping budget, saying “Lack of adequate resources results inevitably in non-implementation of the very mandates that we fashion for our Blue Helmets. We should be talking about enhancing capabilities, not across the board cuts in the peacekeeping budget.”
The Pakistani envoy voiced concern over the growing threat to the safety and security of UN peacekeepers that were increasingly being deployed in complex and perilous operating environments. She called for concrete steps to be taken to ensure the safety of UN peacekeepers and added, “In theatres like Mali and the Democratic Republic of Congo, Blue Helmets frequently come under direct attack, a phenomenon unheard of just a few years ago.”
She underscored the impact on the security of the strategic decisions during the planning and mandate creating phases of peacekeeping operations and said that Security Council mandates, if and when based on political expediency, further compound the situation on the ground, increasing avoidable risk.
The fundamentals of peacekeeping must be preserved even as we adapt to changing realities, Lodhi stressed and warned that blurring the line between peacekeeping and peace enforcement holds high risk as it would impact the neutrality of Blue Helmets, making them even more vulnerable to targetted attacks.
In this context, she also referred to the report of the High-Level Panel on Peace Operations (HIPPO) and the consensus view of practitioners of peacekeeping which agree that UN peace operations “are not the appropriate tool for military counter-terrorism operations”.
Arguing that the broad support, legitimacy and credibility that UN peacekeeping has come to enjoy over the years are predicated on these very principles, Lodhi said that despite the need for reforms, we strongly feel that changing the fundamental principles of peacekeeping is not warranted.