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Indo-Pacific nations lead U.N. peacekeeping efforts


Indo-Pacific countries have become top contributors to United Nations peacekeeping missions worldwide, and their accomplishments and sacrifices will be honored along with those of other nations on International Day of U.N. Peacekeepers.

On May 29, the U.N. recognizes military personnel, police officers and civilians who have helped nations torn by conflict, including the thousands who died doing so. Though Africa and the Middle East are primary focuses of current peacekeeping efforts, the Indo-Pacific also has received economic, humanitarian, social and human rights assistance.

Firsthand experience with U.N. missions within their own borders has inspired Indo-Pacific nations to join peacekeeping expeditions elsewhere, observers say. However, while there is much documentation of peacekeeping work in Pacific locales such as Timor-Leste and West New Guinea, there is less research about Pacific Island Countries’ (PIC) contributions to U.N. peace operations, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute reported in December 2020. That limits understanding of why nations participate, the barriers to doing so and the consequences of their involvement. (Pictured: U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres reviews Republic of Fiji peacekeepers serving in Baghdad, Iraq, in March 2023.)

More than a half-dozen Pacific nations helped the U.N. establish peace in Timor-Leste in the early 2000s, and subsequently brought their expertise to missions worldwide. For example, Fiji had 326 military and law enforcement personnel deployed as peacekeepers as of late February 2023, the U.N. reported.

At the same time, Bangladesh was the world’s largest contributor of uniformed personnel to U.N. peacekeeping missions with 7,269, followed by Nepal with 6,264 and India with 6,090 deployed.

During Bangladesh’s war of liberation in 1971, the U.N. provided relief and helped resettle millions of refugees in their homeland.

The South Asian nation first deployed uniformed personnel as U.N. peacekeepers to monitor an armistice between Iran and Iraq in 1988. Since then, its contributions to worldwide missions have been immense, according to the U.N. As of late February 2023, Bangladeshi peacekeepers were serving in the Central African Republic, Cyprus, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lebanon, Libya, Mali, South Sudan, Sudan, Western Sahara and Yemen.

Since May 29, 1948, when the first U.N. peacekeepers began operations in Palestine, upward of 2 million personnel from more than 120 countries and territories have helped countries transition from war to peace, the U.N. reported. Collaborating with local communities, peacekeepers help craft political solutions, prevent conflict, protect civilians, promote human rights and the rule of law, and build sustainable peace.

“United Nations peacekeepers are the beating heart of our commitment to a more peaceful world,” U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said.



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