By Liu Qiang
BEIJING, April 24 -- The UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2518 (2020) on the safety and security of peacekeepers, which was initiated and submitted by China recently. The resolution was co-sponsored by 43 countries, including Russia, Vietnam, and Indonesia, which is a first of its kind on the safety and security of peacekeepers since the implementation of the UN peacekeeping operation in 1948. It aims to systematically respond to the growing traditional and non-traditional security threats faced by UN peacekeepers.
Almost all UN peacekeeping operations are carried out in post-conflict countries. Their tasks and functions have evolved from relatively single actions including monitoring of ceasefires, isolation of conflicts, and supervision of troops’ withdrawal, to the subsequent multi-dimensional operations including supervision of elections, protection of civilians, and humanitarian assistance. Due to the unfavorable conditions, such as political instability, lack of resources, and poor security environment, the security issues faced by peacekeepers are also complicated. From 1948 when the UN dispatched the first batch of peacekeepers to last May, more than 3,800 peacekeepers have sacrificed their precious lives for the cause of world peace.
The resolution adopted by the Security Council on the safety and security of peacekeepers this time reflects the importance and concern showcased by the UN for the safety and security of its peacekeepers. This resolution is of important significance for improving the safety and peacekeeping efficiency of peacekeepers in the following four aspects.
First, it helps to raise the awareness of security risk prevention of UN peacekeepers and better prevent and avoid various security risks. The promulgation of this resolution can play a role in reminding peacekeeper-contributing countries and peacekeepers of security risks and strengthening their security awareness. Enhanced security awareness is a prerequisite for preventing and avoiding security risks.
Second, it encourages the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) and various peacekeeping mission areas to introduce more effective security precautions and build a more effective security precaution mechanism for peacekeepers. Although the security threats faced by UN peacekeepers are relatively similar, the security environment and threats vary in each mission area. The promulgation of the resolution can further encourage each mission area to adjust the original security measures and mechanisms based on the status quo and trends of local security threats, and formulate a differentiated and more practical peacekeeper security prevention mechanism under the guidance of DPKO to ensure the safety and security of peacekeepers.
Third, it is conducive to facilitating communication and coordination among the UN, regional organizations, peacekeeping mission areas, and host countries to better maintain and guarantee the safety and security of peacekeepers. This resolution covers many fields such as training, medical treatment, technology, and partnership. It can be used as a well-grounded guidance for peacekeeper-contributing countries to further improve the training system, equipment selection, and technological application. It is favorable for improving the quality of peacekeepers and the effectiveness of technical equipment.
Fourth, it can promote UN peacekeeping operations more vigorously and play a greater role in maintaining and promoting international peace and security. Although the resolution focuses on the safety and security of peacekeepers, its fundamental goal is to increase the efficiency of peacekeeping operations, thereby achieving the goals of UN peacekeeping operations. People are the first and foremost consideration for peacekeeping operations. The promulgation and implementation of the resolution will not only play an important role in protecting the safety and security of peacekeepers, but also improve the quality and effectiveness of peacekeeping operations, and ultimately play a constructive role in maintaining and promoting international peace and security.
(The author is with the Institute of Strategy and Security Studies of the College of International Relations of the PLA National University of Defense Technology)