Thapa moots peace keeping body

Kathmandu, December 13
Secretary-General of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation Arjun Bahadur Thapa said today that the South Asia region had the potential to set up a peace keeping mechanism for the new century.

Addressing a review conference on “Changing dynamics in peace keeping – regional cooperation among South Asian nations” here today, Thapa said South Asia had a huge wealth of experience in peace keeping operations and thus it could play a vital role in shaping the regional peace.

He said the region had been providing one third of peace keeping force across the globe. Currently, 124 members of the United Nations have been contributing to the UN peace keeping operations in 16 troubled spots of the world.

Thapa said collective action of South Asia region in setting up a peace keeping mechanism would bring bigger recognition to the region. India’s retired Army General Ashok Mehta said regional peace keeping force could be deployed in troubled spots of South Asia region as well. He said the South Asia region had a long experience in UN peace keeping operations.

Talking to THT on the need for regional peace keeping mechanism, Mehta said if the SAARC Charter was amended to set up a regional peace keeping mechanism, then such a mechanism could collectively lobby for its role under the UN framework.

Mehta said collective lobbying in the UN would be more effective. He said regional peace keeping mechanism could also enhance the capacity and efficiency of the peace keeping forces of SAARC nations.

Currently five out of eight members of SAARC send their peace keeping forces to different troubled spots of the country under UN mechanism. Currently Bhutan, Maldives and Afghanistan are not sending their forces to UN peace keeping mechanism.

The three-day conference being organised by Friedrich Ebert Stiftung as an initiative of track II diplomacy would hold discussion on the idea of a South Asian Regional Peace Keeping mechanism.