India on Wednesday called for a sound information and intelligence foundation aimed at securing UN peacekeepers to face “modern day threats”, claiming UN peacekeeping simply cannot afford to relinquish the information advantage. to actors determined to undermine the prospects for peace by using modern technology to their violent cause.
Foreign Minister S Jaishankar said in his address to the UN Security Council’s Open Debate on Technology and Peacekeeping that UN peacekeeping missions continue to operate in a variety of challenging environments involving terrorists, armed groups and non-state actors, such as he stressed the need to strengthen the capacity to secure peacekeepers.
“21st century peacekeeping must be anchored in a strong ecosystem of technology and innovation that can facilitate UN peacekeeping operations in carrying out their mandates in complex environments, helping them adapt to changing conflict dynamics and take advantage of increased efficiency.” he said.
India, as chair of the powerful UN body of 15 countries, played host to an open peacekeeping debate on the theme of ‘Protecting the Guardians’.
On that occasion, India, in coordination with the UN, announced the roll-out of the UNITE Aware technology platform for selected peacekeeping missions.
“This initiative is based on the expectation that an entire peacekeeping operation can be visualized, coordinated and monitored in real time. We must ensure that any attack on a peacekeeper or a civilian is predictable, preventable or responds immediately,” said Jaishankar. said.
The Council also adopted a resolution on “Liability for crimes against UN peacekeepers”, as well as a presidential statement on “Peacekeeping Technology”, the first UN Security Council document on the subject.
“We demonstrated today, both in the rollout of the UNITE Aware Platform and the actionable elements of the training included in the MoU, that India believes in making the speech when it comes to the safety and security of UN peacekeepers .” said the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Mr Jaishankar chaired the debate as President of the Council.
Speaking in his national capacity, he said limited resources make the execution of peacekeeping mandates difficult even otherwise.
“When such mandates are expanded ad hoc, the challenge becomes more complex. In recent years, peacekeepers have experienced a greater level of asymmetric threats ranging from landmines to IEDs,” he said, underlining that “we cannot remain indifferent to this expectation.” .
Mr Jaishankar also noted that, in order to carry out their mandate, peacekeeping missions must be able to act quickly to obtain and validate information from a wide range of openly available sources in order to increase situational awareness, enhance security, improve operational planning support and decision-making.
“UN peacekeeping simply cannot afford to relinquish the information advantage to those actors determined to undermine the prospects for peace by using modern technology to support their violent cause.”
He proposed a four-point framework outlining a potential architecture for securing UN peacekeepers to face contemporary threats.
Mr. Jaishankar also stressed the need for a robust information and intelligence base to ensure early warning and mobilize a coherent and rapid response.
“A reliable, high-fidelity means of collecting, using, processing and sharing information and data will benefit peacekeeping missions from the outset. Accurate overhead positioning and visualization of mission environments is critical to information delivery and security and security of mission personnel,” he said.
He said the international community should focus on operationally proven, cost-effective, widely available, reliable and field usable technologies that should also prioritize mobility, both in terms of flexible maneuverability of mission assets and in terms of the use of mobile digital/ IT platforms.
India called for contributions to ensure that technological improvements are continuous and available on the ground, in the equipment peacekeepers wear and the weapons and tools they use to improve their mobility, performance, endurance, range and payload, while their safety and security.
Mr. Jaishankar said that consistent training and capacity building of peacekeepers in technology also requires attention and investment.
It is with this in mind that India is committed to a long-term partnership with the UNC4ISR Academy for Peace Operations in Entebbe, Uganda, to meet training needs, match it with available technological capacity and shape future requirements.
He announced that India has signed an MoU with the UN in support of the Partnership for Technology in Peacekeeping initiative and the UN C4ISR Academy for Peace Operations (UNCAP).
Mr Jaishankar called on other Member States to take an active interest in this evolving paradigm.
“Political will, strengthened partnerships and shifts in organizational culture are required to take it further. Maximum transparency must remain a principle of the use of peacekeeping technology, especially when it is used to collect and share information,” he said.
India is one of the countries with the most troops contributing to UN peacekeeping operations and has deployed more than a quarter of a million troops over the years to as many as 49 UN peacekeeping missions.
“Under the blue flag, 174 brave Indian soldiers have made the highest sacrifice, the largest number of the countries contributing troops,” said Jaishankar.
He also told the Council that reflecting India’s deep commitment to “Protecting the Guardians”, the government provided 2,000,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines to UN peacekeeping personnel around the world in March this year.