United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s recent visit to China comes after Beijing's decision to provide the UN with a further 8,000 peacekeeping troops. CCTV’s William Denselow spoke to Nick Birnback, the UN's Chief Public Affairs Officer for Peacekeeping Operations at the organization's headquarters in New York.
Q1. How is China’s allocation of 8,000 troops going to help the UN achieve its peacekeeping goals?
A1. China pledged at the leader summit on peacekeeping last year in September pledged a 8,000 strong standby force. This would give us a great deal of flexibility in some of our missions where we would need to wither surge or new missions into which we would have to deploy. One of the things about peacekeeping is that it takes a while to get troops places, terrain to which we traditionally deploy is remote, austere, the environment is complicated and having ready to go troops is something that can make a real difference for us at a critical moment and we’re really looking forward to having that capability.
Q2. And what exact role will China play in that force which is as you say ready to go?
A2. Well China would be the core of that. They pledged at the leaders summit on peacekeeping last year that they pledged 8,000 troops which is a strong and substantive number. We’re in discussions with them to see what that would look like but we understand that would be a variety of capabilities including engineering and infantry and aviation and we’re looking forward to seeing what that would look like and then as necessary deploying it to where it would be needed the most.
Q3. And UN peacekeeping officials describe Chinese troops as a reliable force. Just how important is that characteristic at the UN?
A3. Yeah there’s a couple of things there. One is the professionalism of the Chinese forces, we’ve seen them in a variety of contexts already, we’ve seen how they operate and it’s very impressive. They come with a tremendous amount of capabilities, they come with a spirit of professionalism. They can make a real difference in some really complicated places so having Chinese troops, having Chinese engineering capabilities, having Chinese aviation is very important. It also sends a very strong message to other troop contributing countries when a permanent member of the security council gives troops. It shows determination from the entire international community.
Q4. And how can troops from China and around the world help rebuild the reputation for the UN blue helmets in the wake of abuses, abuse scandals like we’ve seen in the Central African Republic?
A4. You know the UN peacekeeping executes a series of very complicated tasks and the vast majority of peacekeepers serve with honor and courage in very complicated places. There have been a series of incidents not just over the past year but over the last 10 years that are deeply concerning to us in terms of conduct and discipline of our forces. Allegations and cases of sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers and these are unacceptable. What we need to do is to ensure that the troops we deploy are help accountable to the highest standards of professionalism and troops from countries like China bring an already trained, already professional spirit and series of capabilities to bear when they deploy. So it’s our hope that contributions from countries like China will make a huge difference for us in deploying types of professional military forces that we need to do these complicated jobs.