Since September 1, 2017, Ethiopia has assumed month long presidency of United Nations Security Council (UNSC). Last Thursday, UNSC President Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn tabled draft resolution on the reform of United Nations peace keeping operations. Having debated openly, members of the council unanimously passed the resolution.
The draft reform resolution revolves around on how to enhance UN peace keeping missions. For instance, the resolution calls for the need to prioritize prevention and mediation with a view to breaking the cycle of responding too late and too expensively . Moreover, it urged the United Nations to change its way to plan and conduct peace operations in a bid to make them faster, more responsive, and more accountable to countries and people in conflict.
Likewise, it gives emphasis on how to put in place a global-regional framework to manage today's peace and security challenges - which should start with a reinforced partnership between the United Nations and the African Union. Plus , the resolution underlines the need for sustainable financial and economical assistance to the war torn countries apart from sending peacekeeping forces.
As history tells us, Ethiopia has a long history of participation in United Nations (UN) peace operations dating back to the 1950s. The country's first major participation in a UN-authorized operation was as part of the UN Command multinational force in the Korean War (1950-53). Ethiopian forces were first deployed in a UN-led, blue helmet operation from July 1960 to June 1964 as part of the UN Operation in the Congo (ONUC).
Indeed, Ethiopia is one the top troop contributors to UN Peace Keeping operations. Presently, over 8,000 Ethiopian peacekeepers are serving under the blue helmet in Darfur, Abyei and South Sudan.
According to Ethiopia Foreign Affairs and National Security Policy (2002), the country should at all times abide by international principles and norms and promote peaceful instruments of regional and international diplomacy and take active roles in global and regional security. By doing so , solidarity with the peoples and countries of Africa will be further strengthen.
Many cited as a challenge is that Ethiopia's peacekeeping contribution is military heavy. It has not managed to increase its police contributions in the peace keeping operations due to communication barriers. By same token, the country has very low participation in senior and middle level leadership of UN missions and in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) despite being one of the top contributing countries.
Hence, improving the communication skills would enhance Ethiopia's continued contributions to peacekeeping in the near future. It is crystal clear that in the light of increasing emphasis on the role of sub-regional bodies such as IGAD and the AU, Ethiopia's future contributions to UN peacekeeping would be shaped by the level of convergence between the AU and UN.
Currently, Ethiopian International Peacekeeping Training Center (EIPKTC) is playing due role in. having the necessary capabilities for peacekeepers. This by its self clearly indicates that Ethiopia will continue to make contributions and that it might also invest more significantly in peacekeeping training both for national and regional forces.
Speaking of the advantages of Ethiopian peacekeeping contingents, many say they possesses military helicopters which could be hugely valuable assets to several UN peacekeeping operations. Indeed, until they were withdrawn, Ethiopia supplied UNAMID with five tactical helicopters since 2010.
Ethiopia also has other specialized capabilities. For example, Ethiopia has provided UNAMID with a medium transport company, a multi-role logistics company and a number of staff officers. It has also provided a number of staff officers for the AMISOM force headquarters in Mogadishu since 2012.
Ethiopia's other specialized capacity involves the ability to deploy female personnel. It is currently a leading contributor of female peacekeepers to UN missions. In part, this is a result of relatively strong representation of women in the army.
All in all, the aforementioned Ethiopia's extraordinary roles in global peacekeeping efforts will gain new momentum when the resolution comes into effect.