Tuesday February 27, 2024 10:38 pm

Bangladesh and the United Nations Peacekeeping Missions

🕐 2023-12-31 13:20:37

Bangladesh and the United Nations Peacekeeping Missions

Major General M. Ashab Uddin (Retd) 

ndc, psc, Mphill was a General Officer Commanding (GOC) in Bangladesh Army (2007-2012). He is also a former Ambassador to state of Kuwait and Republic of Yemen. Presently he is an Adjunct Faculty in the Independent University, Bangladesh (IUB)   

United Nations peacekeeping helps countries navigate the difficult path from conflict to peace. It has unique strength, including legitimacy, burden sharing, and an abilities to deploy troops and police from around the world, integrating them with civilian peacekeepers to address a range of mandates set by the United Nations Security Council and General Assembly. The vision of modern peacekeeping is no longer limited to peacemaking and peace building, rather to the assurance of human security in both pre and post-conflict arenas and to the settlement of peace agreements. The end of intra-state conflicts and the emergence of modern nature of warfare have generated multidimensional responsibilities of peacekeeping beyond its traditional activities. In this era of the fourth generations of UN peacekeeping, strengthening states’ capacity and removing states’ fragility could be one of the major outlines for UN peacekeeping operations. 
One of the major sources of national motivation of Bangladesh for Global Peace is the glorious Liberation War. In 1971, the nation experienced genocide, persecution, suffering, displacement, torture and horror of humanitarian crisis. The vow for establishing peace and security that emanates from the principles enshrined in the Constitution of Bangladesh. The Preamble to the Constitution reads “We may prosper in freedom and may make our full contribution towards international peace and co-operation in keeping with the progressive aspirations of mankind”. Besides, the national intent is clearly pronounced through the foreign policy of Bangladesh. One of the four basic principles of the foreign policy is “Friendship to all, malice towards none”. It also formulates “World Peace” as one of the basic principles of her foreign policy. There is various significance of these principles such as Bangladesh believes in ‘culture of cooperation’ over ‘culture of conflict’, peaceful settlement of disputes and peaceful changes in international arena.

Bangladesh started the peacekeeping journey in the year 1988 with contribution in Iran-Iraq under United Nations Iraq-Iran Military Observe Group (UNIIMOG). Since then, the contributions of Bangladeshi Peacekeepers continued to grow remarkably. Out of total 71 peace missions since 1948, Bangladesh has successfully participated in 55 missions. So far, 1,75,757 peacekeepers from Bangladesh Armed Forces and Police have participated in UN missions in 40 different countries. Currently Bangladesh is the top troops contributor deploying 5,312 peacekeepers in UN mostly in Africa. Out of 23 current UN sponsored mission, Bangladeshi peacekeepers are currently deployed in 08 peacekeeping missions in 08 different countries. Our Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman expressed his great concern on global peace. He said “I want to reiterate our full confidence on the human being winning impossible and overcoming difficulties”. As such our nation is also committed to restore world peace. To attain that, our peacekeepers are conducting some supporting activities in the form of CIMIC (Civil-Military Cooperation), those are: 
* Medical campaign, health education program and cattle treatment.
* Distribution of sports items and writing materials.
* Training on computer, engineering tools (Mason / Carpenter / Welder).
* Campaign on public awareness.
* Agriculture and farming.
In strengths, challenges and opportunities Bangladesh possess many strengths that make it suitable for peacekeeping endeavors. First, as mentioned, Bangladesh has constitutional guidance and a well-trained armed force that aims to protect civilians. The country gets its inspiration from its constitution. Second, there is a domestic consensus to commit assets towards global peace. Unlike many issues that become politicized and divisive, there is an understanding among the different political parties that the state should contribute to UN peacekeeping missions. Neither the constitutional obligation nor national policy for global peace have ever been contested. Committing assets for global needs under the UN is one of the only consistent parts of its foreign policy without any domestic backlash.
There are many challenges for the Bangladesh armed forces when it comes to peacekeeping missions. First, there is the difficulty of upgrading its armed forces’ posture, given that the budget for peacekeeping missions is limited. Bangladesh will need to provide more resources and military equipment if it wants to protect its troops. Second, the issue of a rising number of casualties is always a concern. For instance, eight Bangladeshi peacekeepers were killed by a roadside bomb in central Mali in two different incidents 2018 and 2019. Accepting body-bags back home is always difficult and challenging.  Third is the existence of parallel authority. Peacekeepers need to co-exist alongside national or coalition forces whose mission could be different from the UN’s mission. Fourth, there is the jurisdictional issue, in which one nation may not want to cross over into the border of another nation. Fifth is the UN’s budget issue. Peace and security without money is unsustainable. In order to face the increasing challenges posed by a complex security environment, Bangladesh has taken some timely measures. It has focused on institutional capacity building by establishing the Bangladesh Institute of Peace Support Operations Training (BIPSOT) in 2002.
Although Bangladesh is a leading troop contributing country in UN Peacekeeping mission, it may face challenges in future to hold this position. Likely challenges may be as follows:
* Competitive Environment.
* Asymmetric Threat in the UNPKO
* Own Safety.   
* Adverse Terrain and Weather.
* Huge Wear and Tear of Contingent Owned Equipment (COE).
* Language Barriers.     
Performance of the Bangladeshi peacekeepers has been well appreciated in from all corners. Bangladeshi peacekeepers are known for their pro-active operational measures, deep sense of commitment and excellent professionalism. They have also earned great reputation for having no caveats and their adherence to UN chain of command. UN is encouraging to deploy more female peacekeepers and Bangladesh currently deployed 17.5 % female observer’s/staff officers and 2 % female contingent members. Few significant achievement of Bangladeshi Peacekeepers are as under:
* Competitive
* Bangla is constitutionally recognized as second state language of Sierra Leone.
* Many places in Liberia, Ivory Coast, Sudan, South Sudan etc. named as Bangladesh by host political leadership. 
* Few roads constructed by BD Peacekeepers are named as “Bangladesh Road” by the host Government. 
* Female Engagement Team of Bangladeshi Peacekeepers in South Sudan and Mali received Force Commanders Commendation. 
Despite of the multidimensional challenges, Bangladeshi peacekeepers could earn good names for the nation, by successful accomplishment of the Mission Mandated task. In almost all the mission we could earn the hearts and minds of the locals. The reasons behind our success in UN Peacekeeping Operations are: 
* Selection of Qualify personnel as Peacekeepers.
* Follow Strict Discipline.
* Neutrality during UNPKO.
* Respect to Cultural Diversity.
* Positive Attitude towards UN Mandate.
* Humane Attitude with the Locals.
* Professionalism in Performing UNPKO.
* Commitment to Establish Global Peace.
Bangladesh is keen to expanding its partnership with the UN and other partners to strengthen UN Peacekeeping operations and contribute its part to maintain global peace and security.  The country is proud of the service and sacrifices of the peacekeepers in the past and remains committed to respond to UN’s call for participating in future Peacekeeping missions.