Can UN Peacekeeping Chief’s Upcoming Dhaka Visit Boost Bangladesh’s Participation In Peace Operations? – OpEd


On June 25–26, 2023, Bangladesh will welcome Mr. Jean Pierre Lacroix, Under Secretary General Department of Peace Operations (USG DPO), to Dhaka. The visit’s main purpose is to participate in discussions leading up to the UN Peacekeeping Ministerial Meeting (UNPKM), which will take place in Accra, Ghana, on December 5 and 6, 2023.

The trip to Bangladesh by Jean Pierre Lacroix is routine and planned. The UN Peacekeeping Ministerial Meeting is a significant chance for Member States to work together to increase the efficiency of peacekeeping operations and their impact on the communities they serve.

According to internal affairs analyst, Professor Dr. Delowar Hossain, the Ministerial will concentrate on safeguarding civilians, strategic communications (including combating misinformation and hate speech), safety and security, and the mental health of peacekeepers and women in peacekeeping as operations face more difficulties than ever. Co-hosting the Preparatory Conference on Women in Peacekeeping Operations in Dhaka are Bangladesh, Canada, and Uruguay. Bangladesh has had amazing success, and it is an honor to have co-hosted the event.

Bangladeshi peacekeepers uphold the strictest rule of conduct and the greatest degree of discipline. Bangladeshi troops have demonstrated the highest levels of professionalism, devotion, and courage since they first joined the UN in 1988. Their unique contributions have raised the nation’s prestige overseas and made it possible for our peacekeepers to hold respectable positions in peacekeeping missions.

Bangladesh has ranked #1 among 118 countries in terms of soldier contributions to UN peacekeeping missions. 1,81,661 Bangladeshi troops have thus far served in 56 UN peacekeeping deployments.

Bangladeshi peacekeepers are a key component of UN peacekeeping missions. To offer the best possible assistance for those in need, they engage with the community. Because of the significance of Bangladeshi troops, Sierra Leone designated Bengali the second official language of their country. The capital of Liberia’s major street has the name of Bangladesh. Schools with the name Bangladesh have also been founded in a few African countries, like the Sierra Leone-Bangladesh Friendship School.

It may be noted that in his speech to the UN General Assembly in 1974, Bangabandhu reiterated his steadfast commitment to upholding world peace. This statement serves as the foundation for Bangladesh’s commitment to keeping world peace through UN peace operations. Bangladesh has sent its peacekeepers to UN missions for more than three decades, proving Bangabandhu’s claim that it upholds international peace.

Internal affairs analyst, Professor Dr. Delowar Hossain also said that the contribution Bangladesh made to UN peacekeeping is one of honor and success. Nowadays, Bangladeshi peacekeepers may be found in nearly all of the world’s troubled regions. Bangladesh is one of the underrepresented success stories that must be showcased to the world as one of the largest contributors to UN peacekeeping missions.

The tasks of Bangladeshi troops have likewise required significant sacrifice. In the past 30 years, 130 Bangladeshi peacekeepers have died and 200 have suffered serious injuries in defending world peace. On October 4, 2022, an IED exploded outside the vehicle of three Bangladeshi United Nations (UN) troops, killing three of them and seriously injuring one more. Antonio Guterres, the secretary-general of the UN, expressed his deep sorrow at the loss of three Bangladeshi soldiers. Prior to that, an improvised explosive device (IED) explosion in Mali in October 2017 resulted in the deaths of three Bangladeshi UN soldiers and the injuries of four others.

7144 Bangladeshi troops are now engaged in nine different operations. In addition, 542 female peacekeepers are now assigned to peacekeeping duties. The Bangladesh Police’s newly formed female police unit is now on duty.

Bangladesh now has 16 missions operating in different regions of the world, including the Middle East, India, Pakistan, Pakistan, Central African Republic, Mali, Haiti, Congo, Darfur, Golan Heights, Cyprus, Lebanon, Abbey in Africa, Kosovo, Liberia, South Sudan, and the Middle East. Over time, Bangladeshi soldiers’ standing has improved.

What are the ramifications of the visit for Bangladesh, which is currently the crucial question? Academic, Dr. Delowar Hossain said that undoubtedly, Bangladesh will benefit much from the UN Under Secretary General Lacroix’s visit. As was already noted, the visit is planned and takes place as part of UN peace efforts. Despite the fact that the visit acknowledges Bangladesh’s crucial contribution to UN peace operations and its position in high-level policymaking, some detractors claim that Bangladesh will now be less involved in these operations.

According to internal affairs analyst, Professor Dr. Delowar Hossain, every time Bangladesh has achieved anything or been successful, certain political factions and their international backers have used that opportunity to damage Bangladesh’s reputation for short-term political advantages at the expense of the welfare of the populace and the interests of the nation.

Bangladesh benefits from the trip to Lacroix on a number of fronts. First, Lacroix’s visit demonstrates Bangladesh’s leadership in the UN Peace Operations on a worldwide scale. Bangladesh has not only contributed the biggest number of troops to the UN’s ongoing peacekeeping deployments across the world, but it also takes the lead in determining the organization’s policies. Bangladesh is “a model member of the United Nations, showing leadership among the least developed nations and considering contributing to peacekeeping and humanitarian missions,” according to former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Professor Delowar Hossain said in his write-up that, Second, the visit shows how closely Bangladesh and the UN cooperate, notably in the field of peacekeeping. Bangladesh has earned its position as a crucial player in UN peace operations during the past thirty years and beyond. With more than 181,000 Bangladeshi soldiers serving in missions and 130 of them making the ultimate sacrifice, Bangladesh has established itself as the world leader in peacekeeping. Bangladesh performs with unmatched repute, devotion, and dedication in mid- and top-level leadership roles in the field operations and headquarters of the UN peace operations.

Third, the visit will open up fresh opportunities for Bangladesh to commit to sending additional UN forces. As a sign of the respect and confidence the international community has in the talents of Bangladeshi troops, the UN peacekeeping commander is expected to pledge to increase the number of Bangladeshi peacekeepers.

Fourth, as more member states withdraw their peacekeepers from field operations due to rising hazards and threats in the host countries, the UN is in critical need of further deployments from Bangladesh. In the future, Mr. Lacroix will undoubtedly work to increase Bangladesh’s commitment to the UN Peacekeeping Missions, one of the world’s top peacekeeping nations.

Fifth, to uphold UN standards, Bangladeshi peacekeepers are chosen via a strict procedure. The selection procedure takes into account a candidate’s professional and personal history in terms of commitment, devotion, understanding of human rights, effectiveness, and bravery. Bangladesh has created facilities of the highest caliber for training chosen and future soldiers from Bangladesh and others.

Sixth, the UN’s top officials are aware of how well-liked Bangladeshi peacekeepers are in the mission’s hotspots. The host countries’ local populations are the final arbiters of the effectiveness and conduct of peacekeepers. The locals admire Bangladeshi troops for their extraordinary bravery, selflessness, friendliness, and respect for human rights.

Last but not least, Lacroix’s visit shows trust in the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s leadership, who has been incredibly aggressive towards the deployment of peacekeepers. The Prime Minister of Bangladesh has made courageous decisions on multiple times to ask the top officials of the UN peace operation for a quick deployment in the challenging terrain. A clear example is Mali.

There is no way to misinterpret or misrepresent Lacroix’s visit to Dhaka. It contributes to Bangladesh’s ongoing diplomatic success. It reflects Bangladesh’s diplomatic excellence in UN peacekeeping. Bangladesh has always agreed with UN requests to assist with UN operations. Bangladesh resisted the most severe physical assault by resistant elements in the host countries even in the worst situations, such as in Cambodia, Mali, or the DRC.

“The Bangladeshi contingent has gone above its protective duty and helped build up the personnel capability of the country,” said Liberian President Ellen Sirleaf of the Bangladeshi troops.

A country of peacekeepers must toil long and suffer much for its honor. The kindness, natural hospitality, humanistic outlook, professionalism, and devotion of Bangladeshi peacekeepers are well-known. The imminent visit of the UN Under-Secretary-General Department of Peace Operations—Lacroix is its vindication—and our gallant peacekeepers are both reasons to be extremely proud of ourselves.

Nandita Roy

Nandita Roy is currently a Ph.D. candidate in refugee affairs at Griffith University in Queensland. She received her master's degree from the University of Dhaka's Department of Women and Gender Studies.

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