UNITED NATIONS, Jan 21: The United Nations Staff Union has said it is encouraged by a platform launched by India last year to promote accountability for crimes against peacekeepers, as it noted that 32 UN peacekeeping personnel, including two Indians, were among those who lost their lives in deliberate attacks in 2022.
Sanwalaram Vishnoi and Shishupal Singh, two police officers from India, and Azzouz Znaidi, a peacekeeper from Morocco, all three serving with the United Nations Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), were killed and a police officer from Egypt injured when violent protesters targeted the mission’s base in Butembo, North Kivu in July 2022.
The United Nations Staff Union said that at least 32 United Nations peacekeeping personnel — 28 military and four police, including one woman police officer — were killed in deliberate attacks in 2022.
“Peacekeepers and the civilian personnel who work side by side with them are on the front lines of the United Nations’ work in the world’s most challenging environments. We honour the memory of our 32 colleagues whose lives were taken in 2022,” United Nations Staff Union President Aitor Arauz said.
“Each malicious attack against UN personnel is a blow to peacekeeping, one of the pillars of the multilateral edifice. It is a collective responsibility of the international community to put in place appropriate mechanisms to ensure accountability for these heinous acts, which may constitute war crimes under international law,” Arauz said.
Arauz added that to this end, “we were encouraged by the launch in 2022 of the Group of Friends to promote accountability for crimes against peacekeepers. We look forward to seeing Member States’ strong commitment on this issue lead to tangible outcomes on the ground.”
India launched the ‘Group of Friends’ to promote accountability for crimes against peacekeepers’ during its Presidency of the UN Security Council in December last year. India, Bangladesh, Egypt, France, Morocco and Nepal are co-chairs of the ‘Group of Friends’.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said at the launch that UN Peacekeeping in today’s times has become more challenging than ever before.
“Peace operations are also being conducted in an ambiguous and complex environment. Today’s peacekeeper is not mandated to keep the peace but to take on robust mandates in extremely hostile conflict zones. The involvement of armed groups, terrorists and transnational organised crime has adversely impacted their operations,” Jaishankar said at the launch of the Group of Friends last month.
Jaishankar said that the Group of Friends represents the “political will” of the Member States, particularly of the troop and police contributing countries, to champion the implementation of the provisions of UN Security Council resolution 2589, which was adopted in August last year under India’s Presidency of the Council.
Resolution 2589 had called upon Member States hosting or having hosted United Nations peacekeeping operations, to take all appropriate measures to bring to justice perpetrators of the killing of, and all acts of violence against United Nations personnel, including, but not limited to, their detention and abduction.
The resolution had also called on Member States to take all necessary measures to investigate such acts and arrest and prosecute perpetrators of such acts in line with their national law, consistent with applicable international obligations, including under international humanitarian law.
The UN Staff Union said that for the 9th year in a row, the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) was the deadliest for peacekeepers with 14 fatalities, followed by 13 fatalities in MONUSCO, four fatalities in the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) and one fatality in the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).
By nationality, the peacekeepers who died in 2022 were from Bangladesh (3), Chad (4), Egypt (7), Guinea (1), India (2), Ireland (1), Jordan (1), Morocco (1), Nepal (1), Nigeria (2), Pakistan (7), Russia (1) and Serbia (1).
The union said these fatalities bring the death toll to at least 494 United Nations and associated personnel killed in deliberate attacks in the past 12 years from improvised explosive devices, rocket-propelled grenades, artillery fire, mortar rounds, landmines, armed and successive ambushes, convoy attacks, suicide attacks and targeted assassinations.
India, among the largest troop-contributing countries to UN peacekeeping missions, has lost 177 of its peacekeepers in the line of duty, the largest by far from any troop-contributing country. (PTI)