Chinese Prepare to Deploy Sixth Team of Peacekeepers to Haiti
When we write about China, it usually involves whether the government will protest renewal of MINUSTAH's mandate as a result of Haiti's pro Taiwan stance. But let us give credit where credit is due. China has provided well trained, and much needed, peacekeepers for the Haiti Mission. In fact, soon China will deploy its sixth team of 125 specially trained riot police.
The Haitian Times noted that U.N. Under Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Jean-Marie Guehenno recently praised China’s important contribution to promoting stability in Haiti. While in China, he visited the China Peacekeeping Police Training Center in Langfang (northern Hebei Province). While there, the team demonstrated techniques ranging including search and rescue, VIP protection, and crowd control.
To have highly trained and professional peacekeepers is a blessing as a force can only be assembled with the troops UN Member governments are willing to provide - in other words, you are stuck with what others are willing to give. A lack of professionalism can threaten the success of any mission. In Rwanda, some Bangladeshi peacekeepers refused to go on patrols out of concern for their own safety and here in Haiti over 100 Sri Lankans have recently been accused of sexual exploitation.
Also, the Chinese peacekeepers were trained in Haiti's working languages. This is important as French, English, or Spanish is only going to get you so far in Haiti.
As China grows as an economic, political, and military power, it has been increasing the number of peacekeepers it makes available worldwide. On the UN Security Council, it is the second largest contributor of UN Forces and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations is hoping they will provide more int he future. China has peacekeepers (in different capacities) in East Timor, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Liberia, Afghanistan, Haiti and Sudan.
Those of us in Haiti between 2000-2002 remember the vestiges of the previous UN mission being pulled out and Kofi Annan's speech on the matter which, in diplo-speak, basically said "We give up". We are encourages that every indication thus far is that, barring objections of UN Security Council Members, the MINUSTAH force will be in Haiti for several more years yet. Haiti's instability has national and regional consequences - the UN force must remain until the government has the capacity, resources, and good needed to function properly.
The Haitan Times also notes that "...in January 2005, Chinese anti-riot police in Haiti were awarded U.N. peace medals for their outstanding performance in the crisis-torn country, the highest honor granted by the United Nations to peacekeeping missions."
In an era of peacekeeping scandals, we are glad to see that profesionalism be recognized and hope that when other countries provide troops, they will take their responsibilities seriously and receive linguistic and cultural training needed to succeed.
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