Led by Pakistan and Morocco, troop contributors to UN form group


UNITED NATIONS: Troop and police contributing countries to the United Nations peacekeeping operations launched an informal group on Friday, under the leadership of Pakistan and Morocco, to discuss strategic issues affecting their personnel and to brainstorm responses to the new challenges facing world peace and security.

The group, co-chaired by Pakistan’s Ambassador to the UN Maleeha Lodhi and her Moroccan counterpart Omar Hilale, met on the sidelines of Chiefs of Defence Conference at UN Headquarters in New York.

The meeting was largely attended by ambassadors and senior diplomats from the troop countries who praised the initiative taken by Pakistan and Morocco for discussions of their common problems, offering their full support in ensuring that the group’s voice was heard.

“This group will serve as a sounding board for new ideas and innovative solutions to confront the emerging challenges to international peace and security,” ambassador Lodhi told the inaugural meeting.

She said it will also be a collective reaffirmation of the troop-contributing countries abiding commitment to bring the promise of hope and prosperity to those affected by war and conflict.

The calls for doing more with less, despite the fact that peacekeeping was the most cost effective way of restoring peace and lives, was neither realistic nor sustainable, ambassador Lodhi said, while outlining the factors that prompted the formation of the group.

Also, she said, the demands for cuts in peacekeeping budgets needed to be questioned and countered.

The ongoing review of the UN peace and security architecture and the impending strategic reviews of peacekeeping missions provide troop and police contributors an opportunity to have their voices heard, the Pakistani envoy said.

In addition, she urged the need to provide a balance to the trend of focusing just on a few black sheep, who tarnish the image of Blue Helmets, rather than looking at the full picture.

“The efforts and contributions of our heroes, who take huge risks and make the ultimate sacrifice to uphold international peace and security, need to be more effectively highlighted.”

Ambassador Lodhi pointed out that troop and police contributing countries place their best resources and expertise at the UN’s disposal, and have a huge stake in the success of these peacekeeping missions.

“It is, therefore, imperative that we, as a group, should be able to voice their views and concerns effectively.”

She said there was a need to focus on some areas – including the fact that success of UN peacekeeping hinges on having a robust political track that leads to political solutions. As such, addressing the root causes of conflicts was critical. Among others areas was the optimum use of modern technology in peacekeeping, and adequate resources for effectively carrying out diverse mandates.

Ambassadors and senior diplomats from Uruguay, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Cameroon, Egypt, Jordan, China, and Ethiopia endorsed the views expressed by the Pakistani envoy and wished the group a success in its efforts to highlight the issues facing the troop contributing countries.

In his concluding remarks, the Moroccan ambassador said that the group would be open, flexible and provide an opportunity to share their experiences. It would also look for out-of-box solutions aimed at making peacekeeping more efficient.

Earlier, Ian Martin, a senior UN peacekeeping official, welcomed the formation of the group and briefed its members about efforts being made at UN to streamline the peacekeeping operations.