India has condemned the oppressive use of violence on civilians during armed conflicts, requesting the UN Security Council (UNSC) to discuss the issue with troop-contributing countries of the UN peacekeeping missions.

Video  Screenshot
Video Screenshot

Speaking at a recent UNSC Open Debate on ‘Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict’, India’s Permanent Representative at the world body Syed Akbaruddin said that the proposed move would enhance credibility and effectiveness of the Security Council. “India condemns the oppressive use of violence on civilian populations, regardless of who commits it,” stressed the Indian representative.

The Indian official expressed the view after UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon claimed that the world body’s five-point “Plan of Action” to fight terror is a practical and comprehensive approach. Ban explained that violent extremism is a direct assault on the UN Charter and a grave threat to international peace and security. “Governments should not use sweeping definitions of terrorism to attack or silence critics. Violent extremists deliberately seek to incite such over-reaction. We must not fall into the trap,” stressed the secretary general.

Meanwhile, Akbaruddin advised the UN to think not only about violent extremism, but also about oppressive use of violence on innocent civilians. He blasted the UNSC for ignoring the issue for long, despite knowing that the malaise was not new. He told the audience that imperial ambitions triggered wars in the past and parties, involved in wars, disrespected civilian lives during military campaigns. According to the senior Indian official, civilians in war-ravaged countries have started facing threats especially during UN Peacekeeping situations in recent times.

As India believes that the “Protection of Civilians” is primarily a national responsibility, it wants the UNSC to judge one country’s ability to contribute to its national capacity building, instead of considering intervention mechanisms to bring back normalcy in that country. Akbaruddin once again urged the UN to respect local societies, which have developed coping strategies for protection, ahead of deploying UN missions to those countries. “Approaches that are drawn up during Peacekeeping should therefore be built on an appreciation for the social capital of host communities to manage their own protection,” he stressed.

Akbaruddin further underscored that solutions to threats of violence to civilian populations should be sought within the framework of international law, saying that the response of the global community must be based on use of appropriate methods in proportion to the perceived threat. He made it clear that India, as a developing country with years of peacekeeping experience, feels frequent and regular consultation between the UNSC, the Secretariat and Troop Contributing Countries will enhance the credibility and effectiveness of the Council in protecting civilians.

The Indian official was of the opinion that the absence of consultation hurts all the parties – the country hosting the Peacekeeping Mission, the Troop Contributing Countries who put their troops’ lives at risk in the service of UN; the Council as an institution; and the UN that gets a bad name when the Council’s decisions go wrong.

Koushik Das, based in the Indian capital of New Delhi, is a senior news editor with more than 15 years of experience. He also runs a blog - Boundless Ocean of Politics. E-Mail: [email protected]