Follow Us:

UN’s Peacekeeping~II

UNMOGIP replaced the UN Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP) originally established in January 1948 to investigate and mediate the dispute between the two countries on the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

H KHASNOBIS | New Delhi |

The Sudanese Comprehensive Peace Agreement, signed in 2005, ended the second Sudanese civil war. It paved the way for the referendum that ultimately gave South Sudan its independence in 2012.

The Security Council determined that the situation faced by South Sudan continued to constitute a threat to international peace and security in the region and established the UN peacekeeping mission in the country (UNMISS). The mission was mandated to consolidate peace and security and help to establish conditions for development.

The peacekeeping mission was reinforced and reprioritized in 2015 towards protection of civilians, human rights, monitoring and support for the delivery of humanitarian assistance and for implementation of the cessation of hostilities agreement. Of the top ten troop contributing countries for the mission, India stands second with a contribution of 2,400 troops, next to Rwanda with 2,700.

Mali is a landlocked country in West Africa. A peacekeeping mission was established there by the Security Council in 2013 in the wake of an armed conflict and a military coup. The mission was directed to follow and report political processes and developments there and carry out a number of security related tasks.

In 2015, the Security Council further decided that the mission should also focus activities on protection of civilians, supporting national political dialogue and reconciliation and assisting re-establishment of state authority, promotion and protection of human rights. The peacekeeping missions at South Sudan and Mali are still continuing. India and Pakistan signed the Karachi Agreement in July 1949 and established a ceasefire line in Kashmir. The United Nations Military Observer Group for India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP), a peacekeeping mission, was established by the UN Security Council in 1951 to observe and monitor the ceasefire agreement.

UNMOGIP replaced the UN Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP) originally established in January 1948 to investigate and mediate the dispute between the two countries on the state of Jammu and Kashmir. UNMOGIP is unique because a) It is the second oldest peacekeeping mission established by the UN next to the mission set up for the first ArabIsraeli War. It is 70 years old and is continuing, being one of 12 existing missions; b) It is the only ongoing peacekeeping mission in Asia and the Pacific and c) It has outlived its utility and has no relevance now. It is defunct but kept alive as Security Council has not decided about its closure apparently on Pakistan’s pressure.

After the Indo-Pakistan War of 1971, the two countries signed the Simla Agreement in 1972 to define the Line of Control (LOC) in Kashmir. India’s stand is that the mandate of UNMOGIP has lapsed after the Simla agreement because it was specifically established to observe ceasefire according to the Karachi agreement.

In the wake of the second Kashmir War in 1965, the two countries had signed the Tashkent Declaration that was brokered by the erstwhile Soviet Union completely bypassing the UN. India’s aversion to UN mediation on Kashmir is fully justified. India’s stand had further strengthened after Bangladesh became a sovereign state in 1971.

UNMOGIP has no operational mandate now. The Secretary-Generals of the UN have been consistently maintaining that the UNMOGIP should continue because no resolution has been passed by the Security Council to terminate it. Following the revocation of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, the Security Council discussed the Kashmir question more than once without any resolution being passed and statement issued.

India has limited the activities of the UN observers on the Indian-administered side of the Line of Control though it continues to provide necessary security, transport and other services to UNMOGIP. The Kashmir issue should be settled bilaterally between the two countries without third party intervention. The geopolitical situation in Kashmir is completely different today from what it was in the 1950s.

According to available data, UNMOGIP has a total strength of 109 personnel of whom 68 are civilians and 41 are military experts. It is funded through the regular UN budget and the approved budget for 01/ 2021-12/2021 is about $11 million. This is wasteful and extravagant expenditure. UN peacekeeping has proven to be one of the most effective instruments available to the UN to assist countries to navigate the difficult path from conflict to peace.

Today’s peacekeeping is multidimensional. Peacekeepers are called upon not only to maintain peace and security but also to facilitate political processes and organise elections, protect and promote human rights and assist in restoring the rule of law and extend legitimate state authority.

The end of the Cold War has totally changed the objectives and roles of peacekeeping missions. They are now all-embracing. The fact that only 12 peacekeeping missions are continuing today in the world out of 72 since its inception in 1948 is ample proof and evidence that such missions have worked to restore peace and stability in the world.

Of these 12, continuation of UNMOGIP is ridden with controversy. The mission is an anachronism. It is outdated now. More than one million men and women have served in peacekeeping under the UN flag since 1948. UN peacekeepers can be military, police and civilians.

In 2018, UN peacekeeping has completed 70 years of service and sacrifice. Tragically more than 3.500 peacekeepers have lost their lives in the cause of peace during this period. Success is never guaranteed because UN peacekeeping almost by definition goes to the most physically and politically difficult environments.

However, peacekeeping missions have built up an admirable record of success over 70 years of existence including winning the Nobel Peace Prize.

(The writer is a former central civil service officer who retired from the
Ministry of Defence )