Desk report, September 26: Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said being a leading contributor to the UN peacekeeping forces Bangladesh wants blue helmet missions’ reforms and elevated dignity as they now appeared to be faced with growing and newer “unconventional threats”.“The peacekeepers are now deployed in certain places where there is no peace to keep and they face growing, unconventional threats from non-state actors,” she told a High-Level Event on Action for Peacekeeping (A4P) on UN General Assembly sidelines, BSS reports.
Sheikh Hasina said the UN missions are often working alongside other forces with different standards and these are making UN peacekeeping operations difficult and dangerous and therefore the concerns of those on the frontline must be heard.
“Peacekeepers should, therefore, be given clear mandates and they should be adequately authorized and equipped to fulfill their mandates,” she said.
The premier also sounded a note of warning against any move for cutting costs and reducing troops in blue helmet missions saying investment in UN peacekeeping is “worth every life it saves”.
“(Therefore) reducing costs and personnel can have serious impact on the ground,” Sheikh Hasina said.
UN secretary General Antonio Guterres took the initiative to stage the event coinciding with the UNGA session when the Bangladesh premier said “we must all work with a positive mindset to uphold the dignity of UN peacekeeping”.
The premier said Bangladesh laid extra emphasis on UN peacekeeping forces since it was a leading contributor of military troops and police units in the blue helmet missions in troubled torn global regions.
“We (Bangladesh) have never failed to respond to the UN’s call for maintaining peace. This year, we celebrated 30 years of Bangladesh’s contribution to UN peacekeeping operations,” she said.
Bangladesh, she said, would be happy to provide more senior leadership at the Headquarters and in the field.
She also said the peacekeepers commitment and performance should set the benchmark for their deployment while “troops and police contributing countries should be taken into confidence by the Security Council and the Secretariat”.
“Their safety and security must be improved. We hope that A4P will help make UN peacekeeping ‘fit for purpose’,” the premier said.
The event was held at the Trusteeship Council Chamber in the UN Headquarters on Tuesday afternoon local time where Guterres also spoke.
The Declaration of Shared Peacekeeping Commitments, she said, was an important outcome and “it underlines the collective responsibility of all concerned” and “it reaffirms (as well) the primacy of politics for UN peace operations”.
The premier, however, said the Declaration should have meaningful follow-up and the commitments should be accounted for, adding “Bangladesh stands ready to do its part.”
Sheikh Hasina said many Bangladeshi peacekeepers lost their lives on the line of duty but “our resolve to serve has not been shaken” and “we can now deploy our peacekeepers in the shortest possible time”.
“We train them well and in advance. They adapt fast to any challenging situation and they work to win the hearts and minds of the people they serve,” she said.
But, the premier said Bangladesh stressed the safety of its troops in UN missions in performing the tasks to protect civilians where needed and so “we have provided mine-protected vehicles to our troops in Mali with our own resources”.
“We are following suit in other Missions … our peacekeepers are also advised to reduce their environmental footprint,” she added.
Sheikh Hasina said she was personally interested for female peacekeepers deployment in enhanced number and therefore Bangladesh deployed “our first female helicopter pilots in the Democratic Republic of Congo” setting a “milestone for us”.
“I remain committed to the work of the Secretary General’s Circle of Leadership,” she said.