Nepal Army personnel deployed in UN Peacekeeping mission. (File photo)
ITAHARI: Today marks the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations (UN), a global organization founded in the aftermath of the Second World War.
Owing to its inception to establish peace, the first sentence of the preamble of the UN charter, which contains 111 articles in 19 chapters, says, ”We the peoples of the United Nations determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime brought untold sorrow to mankind.”
The representatives of 50 countries assembled at San Francisco of the United States had signed on the UN charter on 24 October 1945. Now, the UN has 193 member states. According to the official UN website, UN Day celebration was started in 1948. The website says, ”In 1971, the United Nations General Assembly recommended that the day be observed by the Member States as a public holiday.”
Nepal and UN
Nepal, despite being the oldest sovereign nation in South Asia, got its membership only after a decade of the UN’s establishment.
Nepal obtained UN membership only in 1955 together with Sri Lanka from South Asia. Before Nepal, India (1945), Afghanistan (1946) and Pakistan (1947) were UN members from the subcontinent.
On 14 December 1955, sixteen nations including Nepal got UN membership. The other 15 nations getting membership together with Nepal were Austria, Albania, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Laos, Libya, Portugal, Romania, Sri Lanka, and Spain.
Since its entry into the UN, Nepal has actively utilized its rights and duties in the world body. Nepal’s first Permanent Representative to the UN was Rishikesh Shaha (1956-1960). The current Permanent Representative is Amrit Kumar Rai. He is the 13th Permanent Representative to the UN from Nepal. Nepal’s Permanent
Representatives have been creatively engaged in various UN functions and forums.
Nepal was successful to be elected as a member of the UN Security Council twice from 1969-70 and 1988-89. Most importantly, Nepal and the UN had an excellent collaboration in the peace process of Nepal ending the decade-long Maoist armed struggle.
Besides, the world body has supported Nepal in its socio-economic development endeavors through its various agencies like UNDP, UNICEF, and other specialized agencies over the years.
Nepali Army in UN Peacekeeping Mission
Among the various executive works of the United Nations, peacekeeping is an important one. Department of Peace Operations of the UN heads this peacekeeping mission. According to the UN website, there are currently 70,000 UN peacekeepers worldwide. Popularly known as ‘Blue Helmets’, UN peacekeeping is an integral part of Nepal’s military contribution to world peace.
According to the Permanent Mission of Nepal to the UN, Nepal is the fourth-largest troops and police-contributing country among 193 UN member states.
Nepali Army has actively participated in the UN peacekeeping mission. As of 20 September 2020, Nepali Army has 12 peacekeeping missions in various parts of the world. According to the official website of the Nepal Army, currently, it has 5,124 soldiers, including 178 female soldiers, serving in 12 different missions around the world.
The ongoing peacekeeping missions are in Congo, South Sudan, Sudan, Western Sahara, Israel, Lebanon, Mali, Syria, Central African Republic, Iraq, and Libya.
The peacekeeping mission from the Nepal Army in the UN was initiated just after three years of Nepal’s membership at the UN. In 1958, five military observers from the Nepal Army were deployed in Lebanon under the banner of the United Nations Observer Group in Lebanon. After sixteen years, the Nepal Army deployed its troops for peacekeeping in Egypt in 1974. The pioneering peacekeeping contingent was of Purano Gorakh Battalion.
With six decade-plus peacekeeping mission in UN, Nepali Army has earned a great reputation by its presence in 43
UN missions with its 130,882 personnel so far.
However, this contribution was not a cakewalk for Nepali Army personnel. According to Nepali Army, 68 personnel have died in the line of duty as Blue Helmets. In addition, 66 personnel have been physically disabled while discharging their duties as UN peacekeepers.
UN has awarded Nepali peacekeepers at times. For example, on 21 February 2020, Nepali peacekeepers got UN medals. It is the latest UN medal for Nepali Army just three years after its previous UN medal for its contribution at
South Sudan on 12 December 2017.
According to the official UN website of peacekeeping.un.org, the medal parade coincided with the marking of the Nepali Army Day- providing an opportunity to celebrate both the medal recipients from the 5th Nepalese Force Military Police and the country’s rich peacekeeping history.
Describing the cause of medal awarded to Nepali Army personnel, the UN peacekeeping website said, ”In the Central African Republic (CAR), Nepali peacekeepers have played a key role in MINUSCA’s efforts in the pursuit of stability, security and peace in the country- they received UN medals for their service at a ceremony held at M’poko Transit Camp in Bangui on 21 February 2020.”
It further added, ”The 120-troop unit- comprising of 102 males and 18 females- has helped maintain public order, manned checkpoints to ensure compliance with traffic rules and regulations, conducted 24-hour sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) prevention patrols and investigations on SEA allegations, monitored the observance of curfew hours, worked to prevent the smuggling of contraband items during troop rotations, participated in water-distribution programs as well as secured strategic national sites.”