India@75 Showcasing the India-UN Partnership in ActionNew York, 24 September 2022
Excellencies,Ladies and gentlemen,
It is an honour to be here today to celebrate such a significant milestone for a country with which we share deep rooted bonds of friendship and whose continuous and unwavering solidarity has always been greatly appreciated. I would like to express our heartfelt congratulations on the 75th anniversary of your independence!
When Secretary General Perez de Cuellar accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in December 1988 on behalf of the UN’s Peace keeping missions, he stated that “peacekeeping operations symbolize the world community’s will to peace and represent the impartial, practical expression of that will.” He called peacekeepers, the “servants of peace”. Given that peacekeeping introduced the principles of nonviolence to the realm of conflict and tensions and military forces were deployed to prevent war rather than instigate it, the use of this term is very pertinent.
India’s involvement in UN peacekeeping operations has been recognized by all of us. India has been one of the countries which has contributed the most ‘servants of peace’. Since 1948, more than 200,000 Indian citizens have served in 49 UN Peacekeeping missions. Today more than 6.700 troops from India are deployed in missions worldwide Its unique combination of being the world’s largest democracy coupled with its strong tradition of respect to the rule of law, has rendered India a very significant addition to any peacekeeping effort.
This has been evident since its very first participation in the UN Peacekeeping operation in Korea in the 1950’s. During that period, India’s mediatory role led to the signing of the armistice that ended the Korean War. India’ democratic disposition became even more apparent in 2007 when it became the first country to send an all-female contingent to a UN Peace keeping Mission. Moreover, India was also the first country to contribute to the Trust Fund set up in 2016, on sexual exploitation and abuse in Peacekeeping missions.
As Cypriots, we have been fortunate to have 3 Indian Commanders of the UN Peacekeeping Mission in Cyprus during the period 1964-1976 that was very crucial and very difficult for our country: General Gyani, General Thimayya and General Dewan Prem Chand whose tireless efforts during the Turkish invasion to protect civilians, ensure the evacuation of foreign diplomatic staff and safeguard the airport in Nicosia, will never be forgotten.
Ladies and gentlemen,
It was Gandhi who said that “non violence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind”. If we take this as a given, then UN Peacekeeping operations and the individuals who are deployed in them, become important vessels in the establishment and enforcement of international law and justice.
I believe I speak on behalf of everyone when I express our sincere gratitude to all troop contributing countries and to every individual member of these peace keeping missions whose sacrifices are making our world a more humane place.