Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has called for upholding the dignity of the UN peacekeeping, saying that Bangladesh attaches high importance to its reform.
“We must all work with a positive mindset to uphold the dignity of UN peacekeeping,” she said.
As a leading contributor of troops and police, the premier said, Bangladesh attaches high importance to UN peacekeeping reform.
The prime minister said this while delivering her statement at a High-Level Event on Action for Peacekeeping (A4P) at the initiative of the UN secretary General Antonio Guterres.
The event was held at the Trusteeship Council Chamber in the UN Headquarters on Tuesday afternoon local time where Guterres also spoke.
The premier said peacekeepers are now deployed in certain places where there is no peace to keep and they face growing, unconventional threats from non-state actors.
She said the UN missions are often working alongside other forces with different standards and these are making UN peacekeeping operations difficult and dangerous.
“Peacekeepers should, therefore, be given clear mandates and they should be adequately authorized and equipped to fulfill their mandates,” she said.
Stressing the need for improving the safety and security of the peacekeepers, the premier said their commitment and performance would set the benchmark for their deployment.
“Their safety and security must be improved. We hope that A4P will help make UN peacekeeping ‘fit for purpose’,” she said.
The Declaration of Shared Peacekeeping Commitments, she said, is an important outcome.
“It underlines the collective responsibility of all concerned. It reaffirms the primacy of politics for UN peace operations,” she added.
The premier said investment in UN peacekeeping is worth every life it saves, adding that “Reducing costs and personnel can have serious impact on the ground.”
Sheikh Hasina said the concerns of those on the frontline must be heard. “Troops and police contributing countries should be taken into confidence by the Security Council and the Secretariat,” she also said.
The premier said the Declaration should have meaningful follow-up and the commitments should be accounted for, adding “Bangladesh stands ready to do its part.”
Noting that peacekeeping is one of Bangladesh’s foreign policy priorities, she said: “We have never failed to respond to the UN’s call for maintaining peace. This year, we celebrated 30 years of Bangladesh’s contribution to UN peacekeeping operations.”
Sheikh Hasina said many of Bangladeshi peacekeepers have lost their lives on the line of duty. “Yet our resolve to serve has not been shaken. We can now deploy our peacekeepers in the shortest possible time,” she said.
“We train them well and in advance. They adapt fast to any challenging situation and they work to win the hearts and minds of the people they serve,” she said.
The premier said Bangladeshi peacekeepers should be able to keep themselves safe and secure alongside to protect civilians where needed.
“To that end, we have provided mine-protected vehicles to our troops in Mali with our own resources,” she said.
“We are following suit in other Missions … our peacekeepers are also advised to reduce their environmental footprint,” she added.
Sheikh Hasina said she is taking a personal interest in increasing the number of female peacekeepers. “We have deployed our first female helicopter pilots in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This has been a milestone for us,” she said.
The premier said Bangladesh would be happy to provide more senior leadership at the Headquarters and in the field.
Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh maintains a ‘zero tolerance policy’ on sexual exploitation and abuse.
“I remain committed to the work of the Secretary General’s Circle of Leadership,” she said.-BSS