Pakistan has called for according “high priority” to the safety and security of the UN peacekeepers serving in hotspots around the world, pointing out that the blue helmets were facing an increasing number of attacks in their operations to maintain peace and security.
“Threats to peacekeepers have escalated,” Ambassador Munir Akram warned in a written statement submitted to the UN Security Council which held a debate Monday on ‘United Nations Peace Operations: Improving safety and security of peacekeepers.’
“The coronavirus pandemic has added another layer of threat to peacekeepers as to the general population,” the Pakistani envoy said.
Over the last six decades, Pakistan has lost 160 of its bravest in UN peacekeeping missions — three of them only last year.
“Pakistan therefore accords the highest priority to the safety and security of UN peacekeepers,” Ambassador Akram added.
He said Pakistan had already started taken measures in this regard, including administering the coronavirus vaccine to its contingents in the field.
Ambassador Akram called for ensuring equitable global access to the vaccines, accelerating the equitable rollout to advance the peace and development agenda, especially in conflict-affected countries.
Appreciating the introduction of ‘accountability to peacekeepers’ as a central theme in the “Action for Peacekeeping” (A4P) initiative, he said it reflects a progressive approach that seeks to strengthen the legal framework of safety and security.
In UN Security Council on the safety and security of peacekeepers, @Niger_ONU cites A4P measures relevant to enhanced peacekeeper safety amidst pandemic and armed groups threats. Urges training in proper "adaptation" to measures on the ground as well as enhanced medical capacity.
— GlobalActionPW (@GlobalActionPW) May 24, 2021
“The commitment to prosecute crimes against peacekeepers is a step in the right direction,” the Pakistani envoy said.
In this regard, the Pakistani envoy stressed the need to elevate the political visibility of safety and security and put it at the center of robust peacekeeping.
He also underscored that specialized capabilities, such as counter IED (improvised explosive device) and mine action, combined with critical enablers, including multi-role engineers, aviation and medical units, contribute to personnel security. Mine-protected vehicles had become a vital asset in some peacekeeping missions.
“Similarly,” he said, “discipline, morale, training and operational experience of peacekeeping contingents could make a significant impact on the security environment.”
The gaps between mandates and resources of peacekeeping missions must be addressed through a two-pronged approach, the Pakistani envoy said, devising clear, focused and achievable mandates on one hand and allocating adequate budgetary resources and equipment on the other.
Tactical intelligence is another key tool to improve situational awareness and prevent casualties, he said, adding that military units, convoys and long-range patrols should have reliable medical support for first-aid and casualty evacuation.
Also, the Pakistani envoy said that reaching out to local communities and leveraging strategic communications can help manage expectations and address disinformation and hate speech, saying the deployment of an all Pakistani female engagement team in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) reflects Islamabad’s commitment to such endeavors.
Ambassador Akram reiterated Pakistan’s suggestion that the Security Council should Also allocate a certain percentage of the budget for community support projects and other peace-building actions.
He also called for prioritizing political solutions to conflicts, saying sustainable peace requires a comprehensive approach from conflict prevention and resolution to peacekeeping, peace-building and long-term development.