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East Asian States contribution to UN Peacekeeping (UNPKO) and it’s nexus to Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR)

CSIS, Jakarta, Indonesia 26-27 July 2018

A two-day workshop on the above was held at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Jakarta. Attended by 30 participants from across the East Asian region it focused on the link between responses to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief and approaches to peacekeeping.

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Group photo of workshop participants and organisers

The welcoming remarks for the workshop were delivered by Dr Philips Vermonte, CSIS Executive Director, followed by keynote speeches from the Director General of Multilateral Cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia, Mr Febrian Ruddyard and Head of the Indonesia Peacekeeping Training Centre, Brigadier General Victor Hasudungan Simatupang. The Deputy Director for International Peace and Security from Indonesian’s Foreign Ministry, Mr Riando Sembiring, and Dr Catherine Jones, from the University of Warwick moderated this session.

Following the opening remarks, the Practitioners Forum session discussed whether and to what extent the guiding principles of peacekeeping are still relevant, and the evolution of peacekeeping missions from traditional to more robust peacekeeping mandates. In particular, it drew attention to how to cater to the increasing need of HADR within peace operations. The workshop also raised concerns over the adequacy of peacekeeping training, equipment and resources, and whether peacekeepers should be the main actors or first responders in HADR.

A total of eight draft papers were presented at the three sessions covering relations between UNPKO and HADR based on the Southeast Asian region example, regional coordination in UNPKO, and issues relating to Northeast Asia and UNPKO. The workshop aimed to use inputs in drafting papers for a special issue on the nexus between UNPKO and HADR in the Australian Journal of International Affairs (AJIA).

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A panel session at the workshop

Capt. Martin A. Sebastian RMN (R), from MIMA presented in the session on UNPKO and HADR giving a broad history of his experiences in UN field operations in Western Sahara and later at UNHQ, New York. He informed on an incident in Haiti where the UN Force Headquarters (FHQ) was devastated due to an earthquake and UN staff were ill equipped to attend to the initial casualties. He noted the stark difference between UNPKO and HADR on the reimbursement issue whereas the other attributes/core values required for the two contributions remain the same, green helmets turning to blue helmets. On an ASEAN peacekeeping force he believed that an appropriately-customised ASEAN Militaries Ready Group (AMRG) on HADR could also conduct limited UNPKO. He informed the workshop on the Study Group for Enhancing Contributions to UNPKO from Asia Pacific Countries under the auspices of the Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia Pacific (CSCAP).

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Workshop participants

The Workshop managed to identify pertinent issues where regional HADR attributes/core values can be the foundations for a regional peacekeeping force. There has been no literature on this nexus and the workshop was timely to provide an impetus.

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