Intervention by Shahriar Alam, State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Government of Bangladesh at the International Conference on Protection of Civilians on 28-29 May 2015 in Kigali, Rwanda
We thank the Government of Rwanda for hosting this Conference, and making us feel welcome. Our Honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina personally asked me to attend this event. She attaches importance to following up on the discussions at the Peacekeeping Summit she co-Chaired with other leaders in September 2014 in New York.
This event coincides with the International Day of UN Peacekeepers. We take this opportunity to recall the services rendered by valiant peacekeepers around the world. They have indeed made the UN’s principles and purpose of promoting peace visible and meaningful for us.
Just the other day, a Bangladeshi peacekeeper suffered death, with one of his colleagues injured, during a militant attack against them in Mali. I pay my solemn tribute to those sons of our soil. Their sacrifice further strengthens our resolve to maintain our value-driven contribution to UN Peacekeeping Operations.
Till date, 1,34,947 Bangladeshi peacekeepers have served in 54 UN peacekeeping missions in 40 countries around the world. At present, Bangladesh is the highest contributor with 9,659 personnel deployed in more than 10 peacekeeping missions. 125 valiant Peacekeepers from Bangladesh have so far sacrificed their lives for the cause of global peace.
Guided by the memory of the three million people that perished during our Liberation War in 1971, Bangladesh took a pragmatic approach to the POC mandate in both practice and preparedness. Being part of most of the highly challenging UN peacekeeping missions, we could see the relevance of the broader POC mandate, and, in a number of cases, tackled it with some degree of creativity and professionalism even when the mandate was not laid out in clear, achievable terms.
Based on such experience, and echoing many of the points made by our distinguished panelists, we would wish to make four observations:
First, the operational concept of POC is now much broader than protection of civilians from immediate threats. Our troops and police have reconciled with this understanding, and have been making the best possible efforts to integrate the various components of POC into their preparedness through training. One challenge remains as to mainstreaming the inherent political aspects of POC mandates into the traditional military or law enforcement approach to training.
Second, in view of the diversity of POC mandates according to the realities of the particular missions, much depends on field leadership and the training or orientation given on the ground. While focus should be given on leadership training, resources need to be ensured for comprehensive and customized training during the missions.
Third, while much is being said about system-wide coherence on POC mandates during missions, we should also perhaps think of enhancing such training and interactions among various actors as part of regular peacekeeping training programmes.
Lastly, as major troops and police contributing countries, we continue to invest in critical enablers and enhancing our capabilities. Yet, the mismatch between the Council’s expectations and the resources and capacity at the disposal of the missions remain a persistent cause for friction and, at times, frustration. We see no alternative to enhanced and regular dialogue beteween the Council and major TCC/ PCCs.
In response to the evolving nature of the POC mandate, we have incorporated a strong and comprehensive POC component in our peacekeeping training curricula, with in-built demonstration and table-top exercises. Earlier this year, our premiere peace support operations training institute organized a customized training course on POC through the UN’s Mobile Training Team with support from Japan. As announced by our Prime Minister at the Peacekeeping Summit last year, we shall continue to further streamline POC into the peacekeeping training modules designed for our troops and police.
I thank you.