General Assembly Security Council

Statement by

Ambassador Tanmaya Lal

Deputy Permanent Representative

Open Debate


Collective Action to Improve UN Peacekeeping Operations

United Nations Security Council

28 March 2018


Madam President,


2.     Thank you for convening this Open Debate, the first this year on the topic of peacekeeping. We are meeting against the backdrop of a year gone by, one which saw the highest number of fatalities among UN peacekeepers since 1994 caused due to attacks on them.


3.      The questions regarding the limitations of UN peacekeeping operations continue to stare us as several complex missions show little signs of resolution. The issue has been debated here long enough. Several expert reports exist and the reasons for this situation are amply clear.


4.        Besides the changing nature of armed conflicts themselves, the challenges include:

           - the serious chronic shortcomings of the lack of clarity of mandates;

           - mismatch with resources available to peacekeepers;

           - lack of consultations with troop contributing countries;

           - lack of focus on political solutions to building and sustaining peace.

These are all well known.


5.         However, a coherent approach to jointly address these continues to elude us, even as we look for short cuts and focus narrowly only on enhancing efficiency, effecting savings, improving logistics, expanding availability of troops and their rapid deployment. We are not addressing the core issues.


6.       What is actually missing is the lack of political will to acknowledge and implement many of the recommendations.


Madam President,


7.         On the question of mandates, of the 15 ongoing peacekeeping missions, 6 missions have 15 or more mandate components and 5 missions have mandate components in the range of 7 to 10. We wonder if there is any assessment on whether such missions can do justice to all the mandated tasks within the limited resources made available.


8.        Several recent mandate renewals have shown again the limitations of a process that continues to be led by a few and primarily driven by troop numbers or respective national agendas rather than providing adequate resources for realistic mandates.


9.        The Council could utilize its Working Group on Peacekeeping Operations to debate and agree on strategic objectives for the missions, design mandates, and monitor the capacity to achieve them. The Working Group could submit recommendations, after engaging with a broad range of actors including Secretariat officials and troop and police contributing countries. The Council could review and modify mandates when needs on the ground shift, rather than waiting until the mandate cycles end.


Madam President,


10.      Let me now turn to the very serious concern of the increasing loss of lives of UN peacekeepers due to attacks on the peacekeeping missions. In the last four years, of the 176 fatal casualties due to acts of violence, 43 were due to IED attacks. We believe that missions facing IED threats should have dedicated resources for countering IED threats. There should also be concerted efforts to upgrade the security infrastructure of the camps. Timely and reliable medical evacuation and casualty evacuation, including the use of helicopters with night flight capability and night retrieval operations, is absolutely essential. Also, to respond in a timely manner to crisis situations or accidents, Force Commanders should be given the direct authority for commanding such air assets in the mission.


11.    An often discussed issue is the importance of greater women participation in peacekeeping. However, the actual progress in this context still leaves a lot be desired. According to the latest data of DPKO, the overall percentage of female UN Military Observers and Staff Officers is around 8% currently. India, the first country to contribute a female Formed Police Unit (FPU) to peacekeeping, is among the only 26 countries that have reached the level of 15% of women Military Observers and Staff Officers. The fact remains that most other countries are yet to reach this target.



Madam President,


12.      India, with its long experience in UN peacekeeping, believes that the success of UN peacekeeping should be judged by the capability of missions to sustain peace by enabling political solutions through integrated responses. This is, of course, the shared responsibility of the UN Secretariat, the Security Council and TCCs and the PCCs.


13.      We hope that the collective political will to effectively address the well-known challenges in the peacekeeping will emerge sooner rather than later.


Thank You.