USG applauds Bhutanese peacekeepers in the world’s conflict zones 

Rinzin Wangchuk

On his visit to Bhutan, the Under Secretary General (USG) for Peace Operations of the United Nations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix USG, expressed the organisation’s willingness to explore other deployment options in collaboration with Bhutanese authorities. 

The UN, he said,  recognises the efforts made by Bhutan in training and preparing its military and police units for peacekeeping missions and stands ready to support Bhutan in this endeavour.

Applauding the Bhutanese people for their pride in contributing to the UN’s peacekeeping mission since September 2014, the USG acknowledged the excellent experience the UN has had with Bhutanese peacekeepers.

“We are proud of Bhutan’s contributions to the UN and peacekeeping,” he said.  The Bhutanese peacekeepers have been serving in seven operations, with the Central African Republic (CAR) hosting the largest contingent.

The USG also expressed the organisation’s willingness to explore other deployment options in collaboration with Bhutanese authorities. However, he also said that the timing and availability of deployment opportunities can be unpredictable due to changing mission needs and closures.

“Nevertheless, given our positive experience with Bhutan, we will certainly consider Bhutan for future deployments if suitable opportunities arise,” he added.

The USG recently visited the CAR, where he personally met with the Bhutanese contingent serving there. He praised the Bhutanese peacekeepers for their high level of preparedness, professionalism, and dedication to their mission. “The contributions of Bhutanese peacekeepers have not only benefited the CAR but have also made a positive impact on peace and stability in the entire region,” he said.

The USG also encouraged Bhutan to deploy more women in peacekeeping for more effective trust-building with the communities and to serve as role models for both women and men in the pursuit of peace.

At the invitation of Foreign Minister Dr Tandi Dorji, Jean-Pierre Lacroix is in Bhutan from June 30 to July 3. USG’s visit marks the first high-level visit to Bhutan from the Department of Peace Operations of the UN Secretariat, which provides political and executive direction to UN peacekeeping operations around the world.

During the visit, the USG received an audience with His Majesty The King and called on Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering, Foreign Minister Dr. Tandi Dorji, the Chief Operations Officer of the Royal Bhutan Army, Lt. General Batoo Tshering, and other senior officials of the Royal Government.

Lacroix also visited the UN Peacekeeping Centre at Taba, Bhutan’s UN contingent location at Shaba, and places of historical and cultural interest during his three-day visit in Bhutan. He leaves Bhutan today.

Lyonchhen welcomed the USG and thanked him for trusting Bhutan in the deployment of the country’s peacekeepers. He shared His Majesty The King’s aspirations for global peace and the commitment to offer efficient peacekeeping contingents.

The Prime Minister said, “Bhutan wants to give its best, and while we cannot offer a large contingent, we will assure the quality of the peacekeepers and leverage the latest technology and green energy in our camps.” He also assured zero tolerance for disciplinary misconduct.

The visit by the USG, according to a press release from the foreign affairs and external trade ministry, will further strengthen the close working partnership between the United Nations and Bhutan in the maintenance of international peace and security. The visit, which coincides with the 75th anniversary of UN peacekeeping, will also provide an opportunity to exchange views on further enhancing the effectiveness of peacekeeping operations.

Bhutan was the only peacekeeping member nation to pledge measures to reduce carbon footprint and impact on the local environment and natural resources when its contingents are deployed.

The USG said that protecting the environment and fighting climate change is one of the UN’s biggest priorities. “This is why we strongly support the kind of initiative that Bhutan is taking,” he said. “This has been a major priority in terms of having a UN peacekeeping force that is not only effective but also respectful of the environment where we are deployed.”