Together, Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka account for approximately one-third of the total number of police, troops and military experts currently deployed in United Nations (UN) peacekeeping operations. Of the 116 countries that provide such personnel support to UN missions, Bangladesh, Pakistan and India are the top three contributors. Further, two out of the 16 ongoing UN peace operations are based in the South Asian Region, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and the long-standing United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP). In spite of their substantive engagement, South Asian countries – individually and collectively – are yet to develop an organic vocabulary that reflects the needs, interests and cultural particularities of South Asia. Here, academic research reflects international practice. Just as the mandate for UN peacekeeping ostensibly comes from the Global North, and especially the permanent members of the UN Security Council, the academic terms of discourse have been dominated by research conducted in Western Europe and North America.
The conference aims to address this gap in peacekeeping research, and potentially provide insights for policymaking in this arena. It would bring together scholars and practitioners to collectively reflect upon South Asian experiences of UN peacekeeping and to examine the following set of questions relevant for theory-building and policymaking in the region:
- What is the value of regional (South Asian) perspectives on UN peacekeeping?
- Why do South Asian countries take part in UN peacekeeping, and to what extent – and how well – are they able to both contribute to major policy decisions on peacekeeping at the UN and fulfill the mandate of specific peace operations?
- How does the South Asian experience of UN peacekeeping compare with African, South American, Scandinavian and other regional experiences?
- What does or might a South Asian critique of contemporary UN peacekeeping entail?
- How well have South Asian countries adapted to the changing nature of UN peacekeeping, and to what extent are they able or willing to continue/strengthen their contributions to UN peacekeeping?
- What is the rationale behind initiatives such as all-female formed police units pioneered by India and Bangladesh in UN peacekeeping?
- To what extent do national and regional factors impact upon South Asian contributions to UN peacekeeping?
- Is there is a South Asian vision for UN peacekeeping? If so, what are its characteristics and how can this vision be realized? If not, why not and what are the political consequences of such ambivalence?
- How has South Asian contribution to UN peace operations been theorized in peacekeeping scholarship? What are the key scholarly assumptions and implications?
- Which theoretical approaches in the Social Sciences are particularly well placed to examine, understand and explain South Asian engagement with UN peacekeeping?