Making peace in Congo

India must stay and do the job well

The Acorn is a severe critic of India’s participation in UN peacekeeping operations around the world. There is a clear case for India to review its policy on overseas troop deployments—instead of enthusiastically signing up for every UN peacekeeping job that comes its way, India must only deploy its troops where its interests are directly at stake.

Given the rot that had set in the UN’s operations in Congo (MONUC) we had argued for India to immediately withdraw its troops from that theatre. That was earlier this year, before the upsurge in the ethnic war that now threatens to end up in yet another major humanitarian disaster. Now, MONUC’s failure in Congo proves our argument that the UN’s peacekeeping missions are “poorly equipped, poorly mandated and poorly governed operations”. But since Indian troops are in a situation where they can prevent large scale loss of lives, they must be empowered to do whatever is necessary to stop the violence.

Such is the mess in MONUC that the Indian troops believe their rules of engagement do not allow them to enforce the peace. This is absurd. As Pragmatic Euphony points out, the operation has been authorised under Chapter VII of the UN charter. This allows the commanders to authorise the use of force and launch combat operations. The Indian government must provide political backing to its troops in Congo. As has been noted in Rwanda in the 1990s, a demonstration of resolve by the peacekeepers can make the difference between a genocide and a mere bloodbath.

Meanwhile, the Indian government must put the UN Security Council on notice that Indian troops will remain in Congo only as long as it takes to stop this bout of violence.