India biggest contributor of personnel to UN peace-keeping missions

These personnel are deployed across 12 UN peacekeeping missions across the world

UN Mission in South Sudan Representational image | UN Mission in South Sudan/X

At 5,901, India sent the highest number of military personnel for United Nations peace-keeping missions as of December 31, 2023, data released by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) on Tuesday showed.

India was followed by Nepal with 5,878 personnel, Uganda with 5,764, and Bangladesh with 5,393. India’s neighbour Pakistan ranked seventh with 4,299 personnel deployed for UN peacekeeping.

These personnel are deployed across 12 UN peacekeeping missions across the world.

Traditionally, India has always been among the biggest contributor of UN peacekeepers. Since 1950, approximately 2, 86,000 Indian soldiers have served in the UN across the globe.

About 159 of the total 177 Indian bravehearts who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the pursuit of peace, have been from the Indian Army.

On May 13, the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict claimed its first UN staffer victim when Waibhav Anil Kale, age 46, died when an incoming projectile hit his UN-marked vehicle when it was travelling from Rafah near the conflict-torn Gaza to the European Hospital in nearby Khan Younis.

A retired colonel of the Indian Army, Kale was the UN security service coordinator who had joined the organisation in Gaza two months ago.

From the deployment in a Field Hospital in Korea in 1950 to its current role as a major contributor to complex and multifaceted missions, crucial for the advancement of global peace and security, India’s role in the UN has also changed.

UN peacekeeping missions are mandated under Article 99 by which the Secretary General is granted the authority to independently address potential global conflicts or threats. Also seen as a very robust diplomatic tool, it is also a way in which the Secretary General flags the issue to the UN Security Council.

It is by this mandate that UN peacekeeping contingents were deployed in Congo in 1960, Tunisia in 1961, Bangladesh in 1971 when the country was created, UN peacekeeping troops were also involved in the release of American hostages held by the Iran militia in 1979. They were brought in during the escalating civil war in Lebanon in 1989, Bosnia-Herzegovina, many other places and the most recent one in 2023 to warn the UN Security Council that a war was brewing in Israel.

The UN was formed on the failed legacy of the League of Nations and a fractured world torn apart by war. It was formed to save the future generations from the scourge of war. And if wars do break out, the UN’s role is to prevent the worst atrocities that can happen and bring in the application of international humanitarian law.

The functions of UN peacekeeping operations range from maintaining peace and security to escorting humanitarian relief, to uphold human rights, supporting the fight against gender-based violence and to assist in the restoration of rule of law and to face the complex crises of today from climate change to pandemic.

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