The 45th anniversary of Russia's participation in UN peacekeeping actions
The events of recent years have demonstrated that global security challenges require collective responses and common efforts. Throughout its history, the UN has proved its indispensability as a unique platform for dialogue between the nations to build a secure and just world, strengthen cooperation among States and provide effective support to those countries that are experiencing bloody crises.
Peacekeeping symbolizes the work of the UN for the maintenance of international peace and security. This is UN's «hallmark» and, undoubtedly, one of the noblest activities – peacekeepers contribute to the restoration of peace and stability in conflict regions, sometimes even at the cost of their own lives. After all, thanks to the UN peacekeepers, including Russian ones, it was possible to put an end to a number of conflicts in various parts of the world.
On November 25, the Russian Federation celebrates the 45th anniversary of our country’s participation in UN peacekeeping operations. On November 25, 1973, in Cairo, 36 of our officers became military observers of the UN truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) deployed in the Middle East. That marks the beginning of the participation of our military and police personnel in UN field missions of the United Nations.
For a long time we sent only military observers to UN peacekeeping missions. In March 1992 the first military unit composed of 900 of the Russian peacekeepers was sent to UN peacekeeping operation in the former Yugoslavia. Later, the number of Russian peacekeepers increased to 1,340. Since then our troops have served in different parts of the world – in Europe, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. Their valor and professionalism have consistently earned high marks by the UN Secretariat and command staff of the missions, as well as host countries.
Today the UN peacekeeping operations are deployed on different continents with the participation of more than 100 thousand «blue helmets». The demand for UN peacekeeping actions is obvious. Modern peacekeepers are not only military and police, but also engineers, doctors, as well as humanitarian and construction workers. They all are working for peace, for the protection of civilians and for the reconstruction of countries that have experienced and survived the bloodshed.
There are about 80 Russian peacekeepers deployed now in the UN peacekeeping operations, in particular, in the Middle East, DR Congo, South Sudan, Abyei, Colombia, Cyprus, as well as in the UN missions in Kosovo and Western Sahara.
For many years Russia has been successfully training both its own and foreign military and police peacekeepers, including women, at the respective training centers of the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Internal Affairs. In particular, the training center in Domodedovo, subordinated to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, is one of the few in the world certified by the UN. Every year about 100 foreign and 150 Russian police officers – future employees of peacekeeping missions - are trained there. The activities of our training centers traditionally receive high praise from the UN Secretariat.
Obviously the UN's activities in the peacekeeping area require adaptation to current international realities. UN peacekeeping operations have been deployed in difficult and dangerous conditions, more often in situations of internal political crises, complicated by difficult humanitarian and socio-economic situation.
The issues of optimizing peacekeeping missions, improving the efficiency and safety of «blue helmets» are becoming more acute. Such problems as well as other strategic aspects of UN peacekeeping are in the focus of attention and in the competence of the Special Committee of the UNGA on Peacekeeping Operations (C-34). It is this body in the UN system that mandated to develop common parameters for UN peacekeeping. Its uniqueness lies in its representativeness. At C-34 platform Security Council members, Troop-contributing countries (TCCs) and Host States develop common approaches to the generic parameters of peacekeeping activities, which should be guided by the UN Secretariat and the mission «on the ground». It is important that these consensus decisions of States are respected in practice. This is the only way to ensure the necessary level of trust between all parties concerned, and thus contribute to the effectiveness and final success of UN peacekeeping.
No matter where the reform will lead peacekeeping, the imperative of resolving conflicts through political methods based on national dialogue should remain at the forefront of the PKO's efforts. Strict observance of the basic principles of peacekeeping: the consent of the parties, impartiality and non-use of force, except for self-defense and the protection of the mandate, is also crucial. These are the main pillars of UN peacekeeping.
We believe that the main task of the UN presence is to assist the host country in resolving the conflict. It is extremely important to establish constructive daily interaction of peacekeepers with national authorities and assist them in building up their own capacities. International community should provide support to local and national efforts, but not substitute them.
We consistently support the development of UN cooperation with regional and subregional organizations in accordance with Chapter VIII of the UN Charter, including with the African Union. We are guided by the principle: "African solutions to African problems ".
Russia's participation in international peacekeeping actions remains an important area of its foreign policy. We intend to continue providing full support to efforts to ensure the most effective involvement of the UN in the maintenance of international peace and stability in strict compliance with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the Organization.