India co-chairs launch of UN initiative on accountability for crimes

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NEW YORK: External Affairs Minister (EAM) S Jaishankar on Thursday co-chaired the launch of the Group of Friends on Accountability for Crimes against UN Peacekeepers that will seek to promote accountability through policy approaches and technology usage.

“Co-chaired the launch of the Group of Friends on Accountability for Crimes against UN Peacekeepers. The Group of Friends launched today will seek to promote accountability through policy approaches and technology usage,” Jaishankar tweeted. Delivering his address, Jaishankar said UN Peacekeeping today has become more challenging than ever before.

“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 organized crime has adversely impacted their operations,” he said.

He made these remarks at the ‘Launch of Group of Friends to promote Accountability for Crimes Against Peacekeepers’ in the Trusteeship Council. Along with India, contributing countries like Bangladesh, Egypt, France, Morocco and Nepal, participated as its co-chairs.

As the largest troop and police contributing country in the Security Council, Jaishankar said India had piloted Security Council Resolution 2589 during our Presidency in August last year.

“The Resolution calls for promoting accountability for the killing of, and all acts of violence against United Nations personnel serving in peacekeeping operations,” he added. The External Affairs Minister said this Group represents the political will of Member States, particularly of the troop and police contributing countries, to champion the implementation of the provisions of UNSCR 2589.

“Upholding accountability for crimes against UN peacekeepers is a multi-stakeholders’ task. It is also a fact that in some cases, the host States do not have the political will or the necessary capabilities to ensure such accountability when crimes are committed against Peacekeepers,” he added.

Holding those who commit crimes against UN ‘blue helmets’ to account, is key to improving their safety and security, peace operations chief Jean-Pierre Lacroix said on Thursday, launching a new Group of Friends to support the initiative. Since 1948, malicious acts have taken the lives of 1,056 personnel serving in UN peacekeeping operations and led to 3,080 more suffering injuries, he said.

At the launch, he recognized colleagues from several troop and police-contributing countries whose personnel were killed or injured serving under the UN flag, saying, “their sacrifice will not be forgotten”. However, serious challenges in bringing criminals to justice have led to a low prosecution rate, and contributed to a cycle of impunity that continues to embolden offenders.

Noting that the Group of Friends will be significant in promoting accountability and facilitating capacity-building and technical assistance to host State authorities, Lacroix offered the UN’s full support, including by monitoring progress and serving as a Secretariat.

Although few perpetrators have been brought to justice, he highlighted some “notable progress” since 2019. Stating that advocacy was “vital”, Lacroix strongly welcomed the official launch of the Group of Friends. (ANI)

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