29 October 2015
India’s participation in the United Nations Peacekeeping Operations (UNPKO) is probably without parallel; it hasbeen one of the largest contributors of peacekeepers and has suffered the most casualties in the process. Eighty per cent of India’s peacekeepers are presently serving in Africa, and 70 per cent of all casualties have been sustained there. UN missions serve as the bedrock of India’s military engagement and assistance to Africa. However, there is growing debate on the efficacy of these missions, and benefits for India from its continued participation. In more ways than one, India and Africa are at a crossroads on this issue. Both need to move beyond platitudes and engage in a serious dialogue on India’s role in the future security architecture in Africa.
Historically, India has participated in nearly all UNPKO in Africa. Most famously, India helped set the trend in “peace enforcement missions” by deploying a sizeable contingent in Congo from 1960 to 1963. The end of the Cold War led to a pronounced increase in UNPKO in Africa; India has been an active contributor in almost all missions. It is presently engaged in 12 of the 15 active peacekeeping missions.
Recently, however, there has been debate about India’s continued role. Many question the benefits accruing to India from its considerable investment of manpower and military resources. In addition, critics cite the bad publicity generated due to instances of sexual misconduct and corruption allegedly committed by some Indian peacekeepers, and allegations that India failed to adequately protect civilians. These criticisms should not be brushed aside and instead provide an opportunity to debate the future of UN peacekeeping and India’s role in Africa.
… The writer is assistant professor, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
GPO / IDSS / Online
Last updated on 13/11/2015