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Pakistan urges use of modern tech to make UN peacekeeping effective

MANHATTAN: Pakistan has called for a new approach to United Nations peacekeeping operations, primarily through the use of modern technology in the face of mounting challenges around the world.
“From fulfilling the basic needs of peacekeepers such as access to water, energy and health to improving mobility, communications and camp security, technology could make peacekeeping safer, secure and hence more effective,” Ambassador Munir Akram said in a written statement submitted to UN Security Council, which held a high-level meeting on ‘Technology and Peacekeeping’ on Wednesday.
Pakistan has been one of the largest contributors of uniformed personnel to U.N. peacekeeping operations. Since the 1960s, Pakistan has contributed over 200,000 troops to 43 missions. In its service to the cause of peace, Pakistan lost 157 of its bravest who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Noting that the coronavirus pandemic has further ramped up the reliance on technology, the Pakistani envoy said underscored the need for designing peacekeeping-specific technologies that advance the protection of peacekeepers as well as the security of local population.
“A greater focus should also be on technological solutions that could strengthen camp security, convoy protection and peace building capabilities of peace operations,” he said.
As a troop contributing country with current deployment in 8 out of the 12 UN peacekeeping missions, Ambassador Akram said Pakistan considers improving the field medical system vital for strengthening peacekeeping performance. Supported by corresponding air assets; optimal level of field hospitals; detailing a medical team with each long-range patrolling convoy; and involving medical personnel in the operational planning, especially in high-risk missions, are the key determinants of life-saving interventions in peace operations.
With regard to the threat posed by mines and Improvised explosive devices (IEDs), the Pakistani envoy called for accelerating introduction of counter IED technologies such as mine resistant vehicles, IED jammers and ground penetrating radars.
“Matching the scale of the threat with right technological solutions could enhance situational awareness and facilitate safer contingent mobility, thus improving performance while mitigating the risk exposure.”
Ambassador Akram said a responsible use of technology, which respects national sovereignty and addresses confidentiality concerns, could expedite the integration of cutting-edge solutions in peace operations, recommending UN system to explore the options for establishing an inclusive framework for the governance of new technologies.
Pakistan, he said, supported the application of new methods, new technologies and new ways of thinking to UN peacekeeping. But this should be done with full transparency and in consultation with member states.
As a country deeply committed to climate action, Pakistan, he said, welcomed the commitment to “green solutions” set out in this year’s report. Eco-friendly initiatives, combined with resource efficient practices in field missions, could contribute to cost savings, improve self-sufficiency and resilience, leaving a positive legacy for the local communities.
“My own country’s experience shows that nature-based solutions to environmental challenges can create jobs, promote ecosystem-based adaptation and support economic recovery in the face of COVID-19 pandemic,” Ambassador Akram said.
The catalytic impact of such green initiatives could feed into wider UN peace building agenda centered on sustainable development and addressing the root causes of conflict.

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M M Alam

M. M. Alam is a Pakistan-based working journalist since 1981. Karachi University faculty gold medalist Alam began his career four decades ago by writing for Dawn, Pakistan’s highest circulating English daily. He has worked for region’s leading publications, global aviation periodicals including Rotors (of USA) and vetted New York Times as permanent employee of daily Express Tribune. Alam regularly covers international aviation and defense-related events including Salon Du Bourget (France), Farnborough (United Kingdom), Dubai (UAE). Alam has reported thousands of events and interviewed hundreds of people in Pakistan, UAE, EU, UK and USA. Being Francophone Alam also coordinates with a number of French publications.