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United Nations Peacekeeping Operations in the 21st Century and Preferred Options for Bangladesh Armed Forces

Published : Wednesday, 8 May, 2024 at 4:10 PM  Count : 1733

United Nations Peacekeeping Operations in the 21st Century and Preferred Options for Bangladesh Armed Forces

United Nations Peacekeeping Operations in the 21st Century and Preferred Options for Bangladesh Armed Forces

Peacekeeping is considered as a successful United Nations (UN) instrument for guaranteeing lasting peace in war-torn countries around the globe. 

Since 1948, UN peacekeeping has played an essential role not only in supporting the transition of peace processes but also in facilitating the socioeconomic recovery process following conflict. 

Missions of peacekeeping are recognised as measures for the peaceful resolution of conflicts in accordance with the Charter of the UN.The objective of maintaining the peace that exists now is the result of concentrated efforts, practices, abilities and knowledge that have been cultivated over the past fifty years (Ferdous, 2020). 

  However, since the termination of the cold war, various stages of evolution have taken place in the field of peacekeeping and there have been significant modifications in strategic thinking. These shifts were clearly reflected in the UN's revised policies, objectives and tactical actions that it implemented.
   The beginning of the 21st century provides new dynamics, characteristics and problems for UN peacekeeping operations around the globe. The emergence of non-traditional security threats, the tilting of conflict patterns, the upsurge of fragile and failed states, the advent of novel advanced technologies and insufficient funding have significantly altered the conventional approaches to addressing and undertaking peacekeeping missions.

Additionally, attacks on peacekeepers, pressing complex mandates and unfavorable political support from the involving parties have made peacekeeping more challenging than ever before.

  On the other hand, Bangladesh is an essential troop-contributing country to the United Nations Peacekeeping Operations. Since it took part in its first mission in 1988 to supervise an armistice between Iraq and Iran, the country has played an important role in the process. 

  In terms of contributing the most number of soldiers to UN peacekeeping missions, the nation frequently occupies a position near the top of the rankings. The Bangladesh Police were recognized as the best police unit in 2019 for their exceptional service and contribution to various peacekeeping activities (Business Standard, 2020). 

  However, peacekeeping in this century is conceptually and procedurally different for many T/PCCs like Bangladesh, and this is one of the main differences. Bangladesh, like many other T/PCCs, needs to reevaluate and reassess the impediments of the mission in order to improve all kinds of policies, training and equipment so that they can effectively serve in the deployed mission. This is because both the mission context and the ground scenario have undergone significant changes.

    In light of this context, the primary objective of this article is to investigate the significant facets of UN peacekeeping in the 21st century by using secondary data and qualitative analysis. In this section of the report, the emerging aspects of today's peacekeeping operations, together with the mandates and guiding principles of UN peacekeeping, are outlined meticulously. In addition, the purpose of this article is to conduct an in-depth analysis of Bangladesh's preferred options for United Nations peacekeeping in the 21stcentury, with a focus on the two centric approaches of host-state centricity and home-state centricity, respectively. The protection of civilians and peacekeepers, adoption of digital technologies, prevention of extremism, strengthening oflocal institutions, close collaboration to reduce the incidence of sexual assault, modernization of equipment, improvement of training and situational awareness for the troops and deepening of more development work in countries that have been torn apart by conflict are some of the approaches that are included this paper.

    The 21st century has introduced a number of new challenges and opportunities for the United Nations' peacekeeping operations. The shifting geopolitical patterns and fluctuating dynamics of regional security have significant repercussions for the operations of peacekeeping forces in this day and time. On the one hand, the scope of activities carried out during peacekeeping missions has expanded to an extent that has never been seen before (Donald, 2002). On the other hand, the complexity of maintaining security has grown as a result of the information and communication technology industry's embrace of the digital revolution. Because these challenges frequently involve multiple tiers and are of a novel nature, the United Nations troops are often forced to resort to the use of force in order to protect the safety of civilians and assist the host state in achieving stability and consolidating the government's authority over its population and territory (Malone and Thakur, 2001).

    In recent decades, and most noticeably beginning at the turn of the 21st century, significant shifts have taken place in the manner in which the United Nations carries out its peacekeeping mission all over the world. These shifts have been brought about by a combination of factors, including technological advancements and shifts in strategic priorities. These shifts are the result of a confluence of several influences working together. The development of interstate and intrastate conflict, notorious activities carried out by armed organisations, insurgencies, activities carried out by militias, and acts of terrorism have all created a new and dynamic environment for effective peacekeeping operations (Choedon, 2020). New types of peacekeeping responses as well as changes in tactical techniques have been called for in response to the global economic crisis of 2008, the war on terror waged by the United States, and the growth of separatist groups in various parts of the world. This call comes as a result of the global economic crisis of 2008. In the next parts, a detailed discussion is offered on a few of the most important patterns that have evolved in peacekeeping operations in the 21st century. These trends are discussed in more depth in the following sections.

    There is a strong connection between Bangladesh and the PKOs of the UN. Because of its contributions of troops and police to UN Peacekeeping missions since 1988, the country is now the top Troops Contributing Country (TCC)the second largest contributor in both categories. Driven by its constitutional mandate to support tyrannised people throughout the world and by guidelines from its foreign policy, Bangladesh has successfully conducted 54 PKOs in 40 nations with the active participation of 1,70,243 peacekeepers (Hossan, 2020).

    Participation of Bangladesh in PKOs have been confronted with great obstacles and complications in the 21st century because of new dimensions and changing scenarios. The events 9/11 have brought about significant shifts in the nature, extent and volatility of security threats in nations around the world that have already been afflicted by conflict. The threats are now complex and in order to deal with them effectively, we need responses that cut beyond institutional boundaries. Not only has the advent of new insurgent groups, rebel groups, and terrorist organizations as well as the advancement of technology made civilians and peacekeepers more susceptible to danger, but it has also made the process of transitioning to a state of continuous peace more challenging. In addition, the effectiveness of the performance of contemporary PKOs has been significantly hampered by a lack of situational awareness, proper equipment, training, technological gadgets, and funding.PKOs in the 21st century is also distinguished by the enormous rise of transnational organised crime and other non-traditional security threats that exceed the traditional mission of the United Nations Peacekeeping Operations. Bangladesh, like many other T/PCCs, must operate in an increasingly hostile environment, which is exacerbated by regional political complications and the country's local, ineffective government system.

    The 21st century confronts Bangladesh Armed Forces with new peacekeeping concerns and a fresh list of priorities. These priorities cover several facets of the peacekeeping effort. In this light, the Bangladesh Armed Forces needs to come to terms with the fact that there are certain major priority areas that have to be investigated by taking into account the sensitivities and requirements of PKOs in the 21st century. In this regard, there are a few crucial options available for Bangladesh Armed Forces, each of which can be viewed from a different point of view. The first category seeks to gain an understanding of the preferred options in the context of the host country, while the second category focuses on efforts that need to be made by the troops sending country to enhance the capability of peacekeepers to effectively deal with the new challenges being presented by UN PKOs.

    Technology has emerged as a powerful force that is effectively driving improved performance at UNPKO. The Bangladesh Armed Forces now have to place a greater emphasis on adopting modern technologies in their peacekeeping missions abroad because the intensity of attacks on peacekeepers and civilians has increased dramatically.Adopting modern technology has been shown to be a highly significant factor in recognising one-of-a-kind threats such as cyberattacks, delivering prompt responses, ensuring the safety of peacekeepers, attempting to make data-driven decisions, capitalising on a variety of opportunities, and successfully carrying out UN mandates in the field of operation. In addition, modern technology will assist in gaining a comprehensive understanding of the operational landscape from a prospective viewpoint. Technology is also essential for creation of accurate surveillance systems, development of early warning systems, provision of safety for peacekeepers while they are on patrol, gathering of necessary intelligence, acceleration of the sharing of information with relevant contingents and stakeholders, protection of the confidentiality of information, and mobilisation of resources when they are required (United Nations Peacekeeping, 2021).   

    The enhancement of intelligence gathering mechanisms has emerged as a critical element that must be addressed in order to ensure effective performance in the peacekeeping assignment. At the present time, the nature of the security threats has evolved to become more asymmetrical and multidimensional, which exposes peacekeepers and civilians alike to extremely high levels of risk. The emergence of new frontiers of conflict and threats in the operational terrain necessitates the recapitalization and redetermination of threats in order to design operational frameworks, gain knowledge about the sensitivities of the threats, develop early warning systems in the field, predict patterns of threats, and classify and exert prompt response to imminent threats to peacekeepers and civilians.

    There is no question that accurate intelligence delivered in a timely manner is not only necessary for the provision of improved operational planning but also for upholding the mandates of peacekeeping operations and ensuring the protection of peacekeepers and civilians in the field (Rashed, 2020). In light of this, there is a pressing need to give more thought to the training that encompasses the gathering, evaluating, and application of intelligence. In addition, the information that the commanders of the various operational bases need to know regarding the cycle of intelligence collection and analysis needs to be made simple and straightforward to comprehend (Ibid).

    The sustenance of peace in the 21st century is frequently met with a great number of non-traditional issues that have surfaced in recent decades. The proliferation of violent extremism in war-torn nations is severely impeding the performance of peacekeeping operations and putting the lives of both troops and civilians in peril. Bangladesh Armed Forces can work on building host government capacity, such as establishing the rule of law, to weaken the environment in which radicalism and violent extremism can thrive. Although it is not the obligation of the peacekeepers to work closely toward preventing violent extremism and radicalism in the host country, Bangladesh Armed Forces can work on building host government capacity (Koser, 2016).
   In this regard, the Bangladesh Armed Forces needs to give the achievement of the goals of the "UN Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism" a great deal of attention in order to materialise the UN goals of preventing the dangers of violent extremism and terrorism that directly impact the PKO and achieving lasting peace in war-torn societies. This calls for a rapid response in order to increase the capabilities of the host government and its various entities, to develop confidence and trustworthy relationships between the government and the people, and to reintegrate the former combatants or rebels into society. Therefore, it should be a primary focus of the Bangladesh Armed Forces to strive toward the prevention of violent extremism through strengthening the national capacity of the host government to carry out the mandates of United Nations peacekeeping missions more effectively.

    It is necessary for Bangladesh Armed Forces to participate in more activities connected to development when they are on peacekeeping missions. It is useful not only for attaining long-term and high levels of acceptability by the locals but also for effectively enhancing the mission performance of the peacekeepers. This is not only good but also effective. Work on development projects contributes to the achievement of a high degree of public cooperation on the part of the local population, which helps to strengthen the safety of peacekeepers and contributes to an increase in support of the mission. In addition, the implementation of additional Quick Impact Projects (QIPs) continues to be one of the primary areas of concentration for Bangladesh Armed Forces during UN peacekeeping missions. These projects help to bring immediate benefits to the local citizens and assist the local government in moving toward a peaceful future that can be maintained (Center, 2022).

    The prevention of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (SEA) and gender-based violence in peacekeeping missions should be a top priority for Bangladesh, and the country should make substantial efforts to achieve this goal. These kinds of issues have the same effect of undermining the fundamental rights of people, the legitimacy of the operation, and the progress made toward gender equality in the peacekeeping mission (Karim and Beardsley, 2016). Despite the fact that the number of claims of sexual assault and gender-based crimes against Bangladeshi personnel is exceptionally low, the country must maintain this purity in the coming days and work quickly toward reaching zero tolerance for concerns of this nature (Quyum, 2020).

    Due to the significant shifts that have taken place in both the scope of conflict and its fundamental characteristics in the 21st century, UN peacekeeping operations have taken on some distinctive characteristics and patterns. The PKOs have a pressing requirement for the implementation of fresh methods and approaches that will allow them to improve their overall performance. For Bangladesh, the task of maintaining peace in the 21st century necessitates conducting an in-depth analysis of the conflict and implementing the necessary strategies in order to effectively work within the most urgent priorities of this century's peacekeeping. Bangladesh Armed Forces need to improve their operational capacity and become more aware of the new dynamics of the conflict. In addition, Bangladesh Armed Forces need to establish strong ties with other organizations that are related to their operations in order to accelerate their efficiency in their performance.

    Additionally, it is essential that the relevant policy recommendations and guidelines be incorporated into the major UN efforts concerning peacekeeping, such as A4P+ and the most recent Secretary General's Strategy for the Digital Transformation of United Nations Peacekeeping. The present security complex in United Nations peacekeeping missions is far more dynamic than it was in the decades prior. As a result of the evolving tactics of the aggressors, both civilians and those tasked with maintaining peace are enduring greater levels of suffering. In this scenario, peacekeepers are expected to go through considerable training and develop a high level of situational awareness through the application of contemporary technologies. There is a rising number of challenges that are preventing female peacekeepers from making their best output in the context of peacekeeping missions. These concerns need to be addressed in an appropriate manner by Bangladesh Armed Forces. It is also recommended that Bangladesh Armed Forces need to be more attentive while dealing with UN mandates in this new security environment of peacekeeping operations so that all of the activities are executed under the full authority of the UN Charter and relevant international laws.
  The immediate necessities of maintaining peace in the present day should be given top priority by Bangladesh Armed Forces. In spite of this, there are a number of other pressing concerns that could have an impact on Bangladesh's leading participation in UN peacekeeping operations in the days ahead. The commitment of Bangladesh to multilateral peacekeeping operations may be one of these concerns, along with the country's domestic and foreign policy aspirations, investments in training and other facility development, and the global political stance to peacekeeping (Hossan, 2020). As the Bangladesh Armed Forces has achieved the credibility to offer standard service in UN peacekeeping, it is now imperative to start preparing essential policy frameworks domestically and make fully prepared the peacekeeper to thwart the emerging challenges in the peacekeeping operations and maintain Bangladesh's prestigious top position in the UN peacekeeping mission in the days to come.

Related Topics

United Nations   Peacekeeping Operation  

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