Libmonster ID: IN-1312
Author(s) of the publication: V. USOV

India's involvement in the settlement of various armed conflicts in hot spots of the planet dates back more than half a century. Indian soldiers gained their first experience of peacekeeping operations during the Korean War of 1950-1953. An Indian ambulance team was sent to Korea to help the wounded, and after the end of the active phase of hostilities, another Indian brigade provided protection for prisoners of war. In addition, two senior Indian officers served as Chairman of the POW Exchange Commission and Commander of the Special Protection Force.1

In the following years, India provided more than 70,000 troops to the United Nations.2 A significant part of the United Nations peacekeeping operations in which India participated took place on the African continent, and the first of them, in the Congo in 1960 - 1964, killed 39 Indian soldiers.3 In total, by the beginning of 2006, India had participated in more than 40 UN peacekeeping missions and lost more than 4 of its military and civilian personnel, mainly in Africa. The end of the cold war, which was an obvious boon for the rest of the world, did not have such clear consequences in Africa. The end of the bloc confrontation helped to settle long-standing and bloody conflicts in Mozambique, Angola, and Namibia, but at the same time it led to the emergence of new hotbeds of tension, often no less, or even more violent and bloody, than the previous ones. The collapse of the State and chaos in Somalia, the genocide in Rwanda, the long-standing civil war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire), which almost led to a major inter - African war, the civil wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone are the most striking examples of the deep instability of African States in the coming era of globalization and the destruction of the old system of checks and balances.

Indian researchers who write about Indo-African relations, in particular Ruchita Beri, note that after the democratically elected government led by Nelson Mandela came to power in South Africa in April 1994, the task that had held Indo-African relations together for many years - the fight against the apartheid regime in South Africa-finally became a thing of the past. In the new context, five main objectives define the nature of Indian policy in Africa::

- development of economic cooperation,

- strengthening ties with Indian diasporas living in African countries,

- preventing and combating terrorism,

- save the world,

- assistance to African countries in strengthening the armed forces and the rule of law 5.

Counter-terrorism issues, which are infamous in India and many African countries, have taken on a special dimension since September 11, 2001. But even before the tragic events in the United States, at the summit of the Non-Aligned Movement in Durban (South Africa) in September 1998, African states supported Indian proposals on the need for international efforts in the fight against terrorism. Support and sympathy for India were expressed by African countries after the attack of Muslim extremists on the Indian Parliament building in Delhi on December 13, 2001. The Indian authors noted with satisfaction that, following the counter-terrorism conference held in Senegal in October 2002 in the presence of 27 African Heads of State, there was hope for the adoption of a new pan-African anti-terrorism agreement containing an important point on the extradition of persons accused of terrorism to other countries. The earlier Organization of African Unity Convention on Terrorism, adopted in 1999, did not contain such a provision.6

At the same time, with some new accents in the implementation of African policies, including those related to the fight against terrorism, the new Delhi course generally develops and continues India's traditional policy of strengthening South-South political and economic cooperation. In a January 2006 interview with a local newspaper, Indian Ambassador to Zimbabwe Ajit Kumar described this continuity: "For many years, India's relations with African countries have been based on the principles of peace and development, which are deeply interlinked. India's commitment to building peace in Africa is clearly reflected in our significant contributions to UN peacekeeping and monitoring missions in past operations... Our peacekeeping forces are currently deployed in Eritrea, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo - over 5,000 soldiers in total. " 7

page 19


Indeed, only since the end of the Cold War, the Indian Blue Helmets have participated in a number of UN peacekeeping operations in Africa: in Mozambique (1992-1994); in Somalia (1993-1994); in the observation mission in Liberia (1993-1997); and in the support mission in Afghanistan. Rwanda (1993-1996); the observation mission in Sierra Leone (1998-1999) and then the support mission (1999-2001) in Sierra Leone; several UN peacekeeping missions in Angola (1989-1999)8. Of the current peacekeeping operations, India is participating in missions in Ethiopia and Eritrea, the referendum in Western Sahara and the Sudan.9

Over the past two years, the number of Indian Blue Helmets has more than doubled, from 2,928 in 2004 to almost 8,000 in 2006, making India the third largest contributor to UN peacekeeping.10

One of the most complex UN peacekeeping operations of all time and the first peacekeeping operation in which the Indian Navy participated, was the operation in Somalia. As you know, the UNOSOM-I mission in Somalia, which began in April 1992, failed and after the withdrawal of the US military contingent, which played a leading role in it, was transformed in May 1993 into UNOSOM-II. This time, the mainstay of the UN peacekeeping contingent was the Indian brigade, which, together with its auxiliary units, numbered 4,967 people.11

Indian peacekeepers, who controlled an area of 173,000 square kilometers, or almost one-third of the country, were faced with a difficult task-to provide humanitarian assistance to the local population and at the same time disarm them. In addition to ensuring the safety of the population, the Indians dug wells, built schools and mosques, managed refugee camps, provided medical and other assistance, including the treatment of livestock. The Indian contingent played a role in facilitating the political process in Somalia, helping to organize peace talks between various local factions, but the mission objectives of Operation UNOSOM II proved elusive in the current circumstances, and the operation never led to peace in the country. In December 1994, the last Indian units were evacuated from the port of Kismayo by ships of the Indian Navy.

In contrast to Somalia, the UN peacekeeping operation in Sierra Leone is currently considered one of the most successful UN operations in Africa. It is expected to culminate in the 2007 elections in Sierra Leone. However, for the Indian peacekeeping contingent, which totaled about 3,100 services12 and formed a significant part of the UN peacekeeping force in that African country in 1999-2000, the UNAMSIL operation proved to be very difficult, both militarily and diplomatically.

The bloody internal conflict in Sierra Leone, which began in 1991, has become one of the longest and most violent in recent African history. Initially, the main role in the efforts of the United Nations and the international community to end the conflict was given to the organization of West African Countries ECOWAS, whose military observation mission in Sierra Leone, called ECOMOG, was based on the Nigerian military contingent. Several years of military-political and diplomatic efforts by ECOWAS did not lead to decisive success, and when the conflict broke out again in the late 1990s, the UN Security Council decided to appoint Indian Major General V. K. Jetli as the head of the newly organized UN peacekeeping operation, called UNAMSIL. As it turned out later, this decision had far-reaching consequences.

From a military point of view, the Indian contingent, unlike the military personnel of a number of other African and Asian states, acted quite successfully. The role of Indian peacekeepers was particularly prominent during Operation Kukri in July 2000, when they directly liberated 222 peacekeeper soldiers who had been trapped by the rebel United Revolutionary Front of Sierra Leone (RUF) in the town of Kailahun13. This and other operations earned recognition and praise for Indian peacekeepers and personally V. K. Jetli from UN officials and many military experts, but events on the diplomatic front were less successful.

According to Indian sources, the very appointment of an Indian commander of a peacekeeping mission caused indignation among Nigerians, who consider the Nigerian army to be the main force of peacekeeping operations in Africa, especially in West Africa.14 The conflict became overt when Mr Jetley accused Nigerian civilian officials and officers of the UN peacekeeping contingent, including his own deputy, of smuggling diamonds , the main source of income for the RUF movement, covertly supporting the rebels, failing to comply with his orders and seeking to prolong the conflict in Sierra Leone for self-serving reasons.15 In response, Nigeria, with the support of the West African member countries of ECOMOG, demanded the removal of V. Jetli from the post of commander, accusing him of "interfering" in the internal affairs of African countries.16 Eventually, Jetley had to leave.

This was very painful in Delhi. Indian military and political figures, including the Minister of Defense, J. R. R. Tolkien. Fernandez, they started talking about the fact that the further participation of In-

page 20


The decision to participate in UN peacekeeping operations will be made in accordance with the interests of India itself. Summing up these statements, Times of India commentator M. Joshi tried to identify possible areas of participation of Indian peacekeepers in the settlement of future conflicts. This, he pointed out, should be South Asia, the Persian Gulf, the Middle East and South-East Asia, but not Sierra Leone or Africa as a whole.17 In September 2000, the Government of India decided to end its involvement in Operation UNAMSIL. The Indian authorities denied any influence of the Major General Jetley scandal on this decision, saying that Indian soldiers had done their duty honestly and now it was necessary to "give other countries a chance" 18.

The withdrawal of Indian units from Sierra Leone was completed in February 2001, but the subsequent course of events showed that there was still no radical revision of Delhi's position on participation in UN peacekeeping missions in Africa. It is obvious that the UN is interested in maintaining the presence of Indian peacekeepers in Africa. UN Under-Secretary-General Louise Frechette, in her message to the participants of the conference on security in Asia organized by the Indian Institute of Defense Studies and Analysis (IDSA) in New Delhi on January 27, 2004, named India among the main participants (along with Pakistan and Bangladesh) in UN peacekeeping operations on the African continent. The contribution of these three countries to peacekeeping, the UN Under-Secretary-General further acknowledged, remains one of the few factors holding back the trend towards regionalization of peacekeeping in an environment where the number of contingents from developed countries is increasingly decreasing, and from developing countries is increasing.19

The importance of maintaining Indian peacekeepers in Africa was fully demonstrated by the events of October 2005 on the border between Ethiopia and Eritrea, where an Indian battalion has been stationed in the central sector of the disputed border area since June 2001. Following restrictions imposed by Eritrea on the activities of peacekeepers, in particular the ban on the use of helicopters, Indian officials began to talk about the possibility of withdrawing the Indian battalion from the UN force (UNMEE).20 According to a spokesperson for the UNMEE mission, this caused concern to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who appealed to India and Jordan, the two most important participants in the mission, not to rush to such a decision. Annan's concerns are understandable, given that the combined force of the two countries is about 2,000 out of a total of 3,300 UN peacekeepers, and India's Major General R. Singh is leading the mission.21

In addition to the conflict zone on the border between Ethiopia and Eritrea, an Indian peacekeeping brigade of about 3,500 personnel is currently deployed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where it is stationed in the most turbulent regions of the country - the eastern provinces of North and South Kivu and the north-eastern district of Ituri. The mandate given to the United Nations Mission in the Congo (MONUC) in 1999 to prevent a major inter-African war was later expanded in response to the need to end the chaos and maintain at least some order in the violent and bloodshed-ridden eastern territories of the DRC23. The pacification of these areas is still far from complete, but the political process in the DRC is gradually gaining momentum, which is largely due to the peacekeepers.

The final agreement on a ceasefire and division of powers between the Government of Sudan and the rebels in the South of the country in January 2005 triggered the UN peacekeeping Mission in Sudan (UNMIS). By the beginning of 2006, the UN international force in this country consisted of two Indian battalions and a helicopter squadron. Since January 2006, the mission has been headed by Indian Lieutenant General Jasbir Singh Lidder. It can also be noted that the negotiations that began in late 2005 and early 2006 on the possible transfer of responsibility for resolving the conflict in the western Sudanese province of Darfur, from the competence of the African Union to the competence of the UN, if successful, will probably lead to the expansion of the UNMIS area of operation and an increase in its military contingent in

The development of Indo-Mozambican contacts in the military sphere can serve as recognition of the high military reputation and reliability of Indian military personnel in the eyes of not only UN officials, but also African governments. Prior to the African Union Summit in Maputo in July 2003, the Government of Mozambique requested India to provide Indian Navy warships for joint security of Mozambique's maritime borders.24 It is also worth noting that India was very directly involved in international efforts to resolve the conflict in Mozambique in the first half of the 1990s, providing not only military personnel, but also engineering and other personnel to the UN mission in that country (UNOMOZ).

More than five years have passed since the extremely unpleasant story for India happened with Major General V. Jetli. It can be stated that this incident did not lead to long-term negative consequences for the country's participation in UN peacekeeping operations in Africa. Just as the UN and the international community are interested in Indian peacekeepers, India is objectively interested in its participation

page 21


in UN peace consolidation missions. Regular statements by Indian diplomats and military personnel that the country's participation in peacekeeping operations has no strategic goals other than strengthening the international security system25 cannot change the fact that India has actively used participation in UN actions for decades as a means of strengthening its own international image as one of the leaders of the developing world26. A possible refusal to participate in peacekeeping operations in Africa would not only contradict this long-standing practice, but would also undermine India's efforts to strengthen Indo-African ties, which have been developing very successfully since the end of the cold war. And since Africa remains, and is likely to remain, the focus of most UN peacekeeping operations in the world in the short term, the number of Indian Blue Helmets deployed in African countries is unlikely to decrease.

In addition to the above-mentioned international and strategic considerations, there are also internal factors contributing to India's policy of active participation in UN peacekeeping. For military personnel, participation in UN peacekeeping missions opens up the possibility of decent earnings, significantly more than at home. At the same time, Indian officers are gaining valuable professional experience and experience interacting with military personnel from other countries.27

However, New Delhi's participation in UN peacekeeping activities is not limited to providing blue helmets to hot spots on the planet. India is actively involved in UN efforts to strengthen the institutional framework for international peacekeeping. Since the mid-1990s, the country has hosted a series of international seminars on the development of the theory and practice of peacekeeping, several of which were attended by representatives of African States. This activity culminated in the opening of the UN Peacekeeping Center in New Delhi in September 2000, which was marked by an international seminar on "UN Peacekeeping Operations and the Challenges of the Twenty-first Century" .28

Outside of peacekeeping, India provides bilateral assistance to African States in training their command and junior officers. Only for the period from 1999 to 2005. India has accepted 420 military personnel from African countries for training under the Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) program, which has been operating for more than 40 years. In the same period, 135 Indian military specialists were deployed to African countries - Lesotho, Mauritius, Seychelles and Zambia.29 Military personnel from Nigeria and Uganda were trained at a special military school in the Indian state of Mizoram, considered one of the best in the world and training specialists to fight insurgents and separatists in severe climatic conditions.30


1 India and the United Nations. UN Peacekeeping -www.un.int/india_and_the_un_pkeeping.html

2 Indian General to Command UN Peacekeeping Force in Sudan. January 9, 2006 - www.sudantribune.com/articleimpr.php3?id_article=13453

3 A History of Indian Participation in UN Peacekeeping Operations http://www.indianembassy.org/policy/Peace_Keeping/history_ indiaUNjpeacekeeping

4 Indian General to Command UN...

Beri Ruchita. 5 India's Africa Policy in the Post-Cold War Era: An Assessment. IDSA. April-June 2003. Vol. 27, N 2.

6 Ibidem.

7 A Voice for Africa in UN is a Voice for Africa - Interview H.E. Mr. Ajit Kumar, Ambassador of India in Zimbabwe. The Herald (Harare). January 21, 2006.

8 UN Peacekeeping - http://indianarmy.nic.in/arunpkl.htm

9 Indian General to Command UNMIS Force in Sudan. January 12, 2006 - www.sudantribune.com/article_impr.php3?id_article= 13498

10 Top 35 Contributing Countries to UN Operations. United Peacekeeping. Meeting New Challenges - http://www.un.org/Dept/dpko/dpko/faq/qaenglish.pdf

Bullion Allan. 11 India and UN Peacekeeping Operations. International Peacekeeping. Spring 1997, 4 (1) 113 - 114 -www.in.org/dpko/dpko/comission/comiss.htm

12 Ibidem.

13 UNAMSIL Operations. Peacekeeping in Sierra Leone -http://armedforces.nic.in

Gandadharan Surya. 14 Sierra Leone vs India's Interests: Lessons of UN Peacekeeping - http://stratmag.com/issueOct-1/page05.htm

15 Report on the Crisis in Sierra Leone - www.sierra-Ieone.org/jetley0500.html; MgGreal Chris. Nigerian peace force accused of sabotage. Guardian - http://www.guardian.co.uk/Archive/Article/0.4273.4062848.00.html; www.brad.ac.uk/acad/confres/moni-tor/UNCmonitor9.pdf

16 "Peace Keepers Threaten Fragile Peace" at http://headlines.igc.org:8080/pnheadlines/945126388/inde

Gandadharan Surya. 17 Sierra Leone vs India's Interests... 18 UN Peacekeeping - www.brad.ac.uk/acad/con-fres/monitor/UNCmonitor9.pdf

19 Excerpts from Keynote Address by United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Louise Frechette to the Sixth IDSA Asian Security Conference in New Delhi. 27.01.2004. Press Release DSG/SM/212.

Ray Nivedita. 20 Indian-led UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea May Be Forced to Withdraw. January 13, 2006 http://www.idsa.in/publications/strategic-analysis/nivedita-ray.htm

Ray Nivedita. 21 Indian Troops on Africa Mission http://telegraphindia.com/1040712/asp/others.html

22 India, Africa Ready to Embrace Global Destiny (An Article by Minister of State for External Affairs Rao Inderjit Singh) -http://www.meaindia.nic.in/interview/2006/01/25in01.htm

23 Troops From India, Pakistan to Join UN Peacekeeping Force in DR Congo. UN News Service. New York. November 29, 2004 -www.allAfrica.com

Kharuna G.S. 24 Maritime Security in the Indian Ocean: Convergence Plus Cooperation Equals Resonance. Strategic Analysis, IDSA. July-September 2004. Vol. 28, N 3, p. 418.

Josy Joseph. 25 Warriors of Peace. What's in It for India? -http://www.rediff.com/news/2000/jun/29un2.htm

Nearck L. 26 UN Peacekeeping: in Interest of Community or Self? Jornal of Peace Research, 32 (2), 1995, p. 184. Cit. on Kgomotso Monnakgotla. The Naked Face of UN Peacekeeping: Noble Crusade or National Self-Interest - http://www.iss.co.za/pubs/ASR/5No5/monnakgotla.html

Bhatt Shila. 27 Only Best are Chosen - www.rediff.com/cms/print.jsp?docpath'=//news/2003/jul/29spec.html. July 29, 2003.

28 India and UN. UN Peacekeeping...

Beri R. 29 Africa's Energy Potential: Prospects for India. Strategic Analysis, IDSA. Vol. 29, N 3, July-September 2005, p. 387 - 388.

30 UPDF Trains On Fighting Terrorism. New Vision, Kampala. February 5, 2005 - www.allAfrica.com; Syed Zarir Hussain. India's Unique Guerilla Warfare School - http://www.eians.com/stories/2005/features/feb/feb05-05.shtml


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