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New York [US], August 18 (ANI): Proposing a four-point framework to lay architecture for securing UN peacekeepers against contemporary threats, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Wednesday said that 21st-century peacekeeping must be anchored in a strong ecosystem of technology and innovation.
Addressing the Open Debate on 'Protecting the Protectors: Technology and Peacekeeping' at the UN Security Council, Jaishankar said UN peacekeeping simply cannot afford to cede the information advantage to those actors determined to undermine prospects for peace by using modern technology to aid their violent cause.
He said India believes in "walking the talk" when it comes to the safety and security of UN peacekeepers.
"We have shown today, both in the rollout out of the UNITE Aware Platform, as well as the actionable elements of training incorporated in the MoU, that India believes in walking the talk when it comes to the safety and security of UN peacekeepers. We hope that in our discussions today, we get an equally strong reaffirmation of the UN's intent as well," he said.
Jaishankar said India has been a pioneer in UN Peacekeeping, deploying more than a quarter of a million troops over the years to as many as 49 UN Peacekeeping Missions.
"Serving under the blue flag, 175 gallant Indian soldiers have made the supreme sacrifice, the largest number among troop-contributing countries. In keeping with this tradition, we have more than 5000 personnel deployed across nine missions at present," he said.
The minister said peacekeeping missions must be able to move fast to acquire and validate, information from a wide range of openly available sources to enhance situational awareness, augment security, aid operational planning, and support decision-making.
He proposed a four-point framework that would lay out a possible architecture for securing UN peacekeepers to meet contemporary threats.
"First, we must focus on operationally proven, cost-effective, widely available, reliable and field-serviceable technologies. These must also prioritize mobility, both in the sense of agile manoeuvrability of mission assets and in the sense of the use of mobile digital / IT platforms.
"Second, we need a sound information and intelligence foundation. Only this will ensure early warning and mobilizing a coherent and early response. A reliable, high fidelity means to collect, use, process and share information and data will create advantages from the start for peacekeeping missions."
"Thirdly, we must contribute to ensuring that technological improvements are continuous and are available on the ground, in the gear peacekeepers carry and the weapons and tools they use to enhance their mobility, performance, endurance, range, and load-carrying capabilities while guaranteeing their safety and security."
"Fourthly, consistent training and capacity building of peacekeepers in the realm of technology needs attention and investment. It is with this in mind that India is committed to long term engagement with the UNC4ISR Academy for Peace Operations in Entebbe, Uganda, to meet the training needs, link it with available technological capability, and shape future requirements."
He announced an MOU between the Government of India and the UN in support of the 'Partnership for Technology in Peacekeeping' initiative and to UN C4ISR Academy for Peace Operations (UNCAP).
The minister also announced that India is supporting the UN in the rollout of the UNITE Aware Platform across select peacekeeping missions.
"This initiative is based on the expectation that an entire peacekeeping operation can be visualized, coordinated, and monitored on a real-time basis. We should ensure that any attack on a peacekeeper or a civilian is predictable, preventable, or responded to immediately."
He said peacekeeping continues to play a crucial role in India's vision of ensuring international peace and security.
"Providing greater clarity, direction and professionalism in UN Peacekeeping operations is at the heart of this vision," he said.
The minister said that as a reflection of India's deep commitment to 'Protecting the Protectors', it provided 2,00,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines for UN Peacekeeping personnel worldwide in March this year. (ANI)