Following excerpts adapted from the remarks by External Affairs Minister of the Government of India, Dr. S Jaishankar at the United Nations Security Council Open Debate on Technology & Peacekeeping
21st century peacekeeping must be anchored in a strong ecosystem of technology and innovation that can facilitate UN peacekeeping operations in implementing their mandates in complex environments. After all, it helps them to adapt to changing conflict dynamics and take advantage of increased efficiencies. This is also in line with the Strategy for Digital Transformation of UN Peacekeeping which seeks to advance the use of technology across the Action for Peacekeeping (A4P) themes, including performance, safety and security, politics, protection and peacebuilding.
Limited resources make the execution of peacekeeping mandates difficult even otherwise. When such mandates are expanded in an ad hoc fashion, the challenge becomes more complex. In recent years, peacekeepers have experienced a greater level of asymmetric threats, ranging from landmines to IEDs and we cannot remain indifferent to this prospect.
To execute their mandates, 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. 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. Let me therefore propose 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 use of mobile digital / IT platforms. Where deployed, technologies should be environment friendly through the use of renewables and fuel efficiency, and use of environmentally-friendly construction materials.
Second, we need a sound information and intelligence foundation. Only this will ensure early warning and mobilizing a coherent and early response. It therefore gives me great pleasure to announce 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.
Thirdly, we must contribute to ensuring that technological improvements are continuous and are available on the ground, in the gear that peacekeepers carry and the weapons and tools that they use to enhance their mobility, performance, endurance, range, and load-carrying capabilities while guaranteeing their safety and security. This also includes strengthening of communication within missions and enhancing overall capacity to take informed decisions at the tactical or operational level. Fourthly, consistent training and capacity building of peacekeepers in the realm of technology needs attention and investment. I am pleased to announce that we have signed 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).
We would welcome other Member States to take active interest in this evolving paradigm. Political will, strengthened partnerships, and shifts in organizational culture are required to take it forward. Maximum transparency should remain a principle of the use of peacekeeping technology and in particular when used to enable information gathering and sharing. Peacekeeping requires continuous review, adaptation, and transparent engagement with all stakeholders, as also strong procedural safeguards and effective oversight mechanisms.