Thursday, 28 September, 2023

Bangladesh's Contribution to World Peacekeeping

Indrajit Kumar

Bangladesh's Contribution to World Peacekeeping
Indrajit Kumar

Popular News

International Day of UN Peacekeepers is observed annually on May 29. When the day comes, the scene of Bangladesh's pride, contribution and bravery in world peacekeeping comes to the fore. Bangladeshi peacekeepers have been playing an important role in UN peacekeeping operations for more than three decades. Currently, 6,802 members of the armed and police forces are engaged in peacekeeping operations in nine missions around the world. One of the success stories of Bangladesh in the golden jubilee of independence is its retention of the top position as the country that sends peacekeepers to the United Nations peacekeeping missions. Various international media call Bangladeshi peacekeepers the core or equivalent of the UN peacekeeping force.

War and conflict can never bring benefits to any country. War and conflict must be abandoned to maintain peace. The United Nations Peacekeeping Mission first came into effect in 1948 with the aim of establishing peace in conflict zones of the world. However, the day has been observed globally since 2003 to commemorate the great sacrifices made by peacekeepers of different countries. Before this, the outline of this day was formulated according to the resolution 57/129 adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 11, 2002, at the joint proposal of the peacekeeping organization of Ukraine and the Government of Ukraine. The date was set on May 29 in reference to the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization, which was formed to monitor the 1948 Arab-Israeli War-era ceasefire.

Note that the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) is the first UN peacekeeping force. Thus (since 1948) UN peacekeeping force completed 74 years. On this day, all the men and women participating in the activities of the peacekeeping forces in various countries, including the United Nations, are remembered with deep gratitude for their self-sacrifice while maintaining the best professional attitude, dutifulness and devotion to maintain peace. In 2009, the United Nations placed special emphasis on the contribution and role of women in peacekeeping. The United Nations took that step-in order to eliminate the role of women in peacekeeping and gender inequality.

This day is celebrated with due significance in almost all the countries of the world. On this day, the honorary ‘Dag Hammarskjöld Medal’ was distributed at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City.

Bangladesh Peacekeeping Force completed 34 years under the UN in 2022 (since 1988). However, Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman sent a medical team to warring Syria in 1973 and set a precedent for the Bangladesh government to establish friendships with Muslim countries in peacekeeping. In 1974, the United Nations recognized Bangladesh's peacekeeping operations. Bangladeshi peacekeepers have now earned praise at home and abroad through their work.

Bangladesh has a glorious history in UN peacekeeping missions. Bangladesh's journey into the UN peacekeeping mission began in 1988 by sending only 15 military observers to the UN Iran-Iraq Military Observation Group (UNIMOG) mission. In the next few years, the Bangladeshi peacekeeping force worked in the United Nations peacekeeping mission with great reputation and achievement. In 1993-94, the Bangladesh Army came to the centre of discussion by demonstrating their capabilities and skills in the much-talked-about peace missions in Rwanda, Somalia and Bosnia. At that time, the officials of the concerned countries, including the United Nations, did not think that the Bangladesh army could surpass the Belgian army in Rwanda, the American army in Somalia, and the French army in Bosnia in terms of skill and military knowledge. Since then, Bangladesh's position in the United Nations peacekeeping mission has been getting stronger.

During the 1994 genocide in the African country of Rwanda, a brigade group of the Bangladesh Army was deployed there. When the civil war started in that mission, the Afro-European battalions including the Belgians quickly withdrew and suspended their mission, but the Bangladeshi soldiers bravely remained in the mission area. As a result, the death rate in genocide was much lower. Everyone was surprised to see such courage and skill in Bangladeshi soldiers. When the United Nations peacekeeping mission was withdrawn from Somalia, the American troops demanded that the Bangladeshi troops should stay with them until the last of their soldiers left Somalia. In 1995, when the French peacekeeping battalions were withdrawn from Bosnia, Bangladeshi troops started working in their place. Working together with troops from 34 countries, the Bangladesh battalion proved its mettle in peacekeeping operations. Everyone thought that the Bangladesh army could not replace the French army. But, while the Dutch and Ukrainian troops have completely failed to prevent the massacre in the two towns of Bosnia called 'Sabranica' and 'Japa', the Bangladeshi troops are able to protect the people of the town of Bihac in Bosnia with courage, honesty, skill and determination, even with much lighter weapons than them. Bangladesh is a well-known trusted name in establishing peace and order in Congo, Mali, Sudan, South Sudan, Sahara, Lebanon, Haiti, East Timor etc. Peacekeepers of Bangladesh have completed 55 peacekeeping missions of the United Nations in 40 countries of the world by serving humanity at the risk of their lives.

Besides playing an important role in the UN peacekeeping mission, Bangladeshi peacekeepers have won the hearts of the people of the respective countries. Appreciating the role of Bangladeshi peacekeepers, Sierra Leone wanted to make Bengali the official language of their country. But because they could not do it according to the constitution, Bengali is now the second language of the country. Bangladesh has become an integral part of the people of countries where the common people were once not very familiar with Bangladesh.

After participating in the United Nations peacekeeping mission, the recognition of Bangladesh and Bangla Language has increased several times. Bangladeshi peacekeepers have devoted themselves to the great service of world humanity in the establishment of world peace by transforming ethnic identity, religious practice, physical caste and communal discrimination into love. Because of this, Bangladeshi peacekeepers have become role models for the people of war-torn regions. Bangladeshi peacekeepers assigned to the United Nations are making a significant contribution to the economy of Bangladesh.

In the last 34 years, Bangladeshi peacekeepers have been working with reputation, love, achievement and success in the service of world humanity. On this commemoration of International UN Peacekeepers Day and the 34th anniversary of Bangladesh's peacekeeping mission, we remember with gratitude, love and humility the Bangladeshi peacekeepers who have made a valuable contribution to the establishment of global peace. May the fragrance of peace spread worldwide.


The writer is an educator