Peacekeeping missions have created indirect financial benefits for the Bangladeshi economy, particularly in the agricultural and pharmaceutical sectors, creating new markets for Bangladeshi businessmen.
Bangladesh became a member of the United Nations on September 17, 1974, and on September 25, the country's Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, gave his historic speech in Bengali at the United Nations General Session expressing his firm commitment to Bangladesh's continued support for peace throughout the world. As a result, Bangladesh has been actively participating in all peacekeeping activities conducted under the United Nations charter.
Bangladesh's foreign policy is being conducted in accordance with the idea of 'friendship with all, enmity with none'. The participation began with the deployment of only 15 military observers in the 1988 UN Iran-Iraq Military Observation Group (UNIMOG) mission. In the following years, the Bangladesh Army consolidated its position in the UN peacekeeping mission as an embodiment of professionalism and dedication by showing skill and bravery.
Bangladesh's participation in the UN Mission in its first decade was full of ups and downs. But undoubtedly the experience of the first decade enriched the Bangladesh Army in carrying out its assigned duties in the next decade.
Largest peacekeeping contingent
Bangladesh is currently involved in nine UN peacekeeping missions as the country that sends the largest number of peacekeepers. Bangladesh has recently regained its position as the top peacekeeping-sending country. Against the backdrop of constant conflict with more than 150 militia forces across the African continent, the work of Bangladeshi peacekeepers wearing blue helmets and berets is widely acclaimed worldwide.
At present, 15 contingents of Bangladesh have been included in the United Nations Capability Readiness System (UNPCRS), thereby opening the door for new contingents to be deployed in UN peacekeeping missions. Assessment and advisory inspection of these contingents are in process through the UN delegation. Two contingents have already qualified as UNPCRS, Rapidly Deployable Level (RDL).
Since the United Nations works with multinational forces, coordinating with the thinking of each country's military, and keeping in touch with commanders of different countries despite linguistic differences, it is undoubtedly a challenging task to coordinate and execute the right plan, which Bangladeshi peacekeepers excel at.
New opportunities opened up
After 50 years of its establishment, the members of the Bangladesh Army have made themselves the pride of the nation through their hard work, spirit, patriotism and skill as a professional force. The opportunities for the Bangladesh Army to work in a multinational environment like the United Nations are many. As a result, linguistic skills, military professionalism, fighting craft and personal capabilities of Bangladeshi peacekeepers are increasing. Foreign exchange earned through participation in peacekeeping missions has added an important dimension to the country's economy.
Peacekeeping missions have created indirect financial benefits for the Bangladeshi economy, particularly in the agricultural and pharmaceutical sectors, creating new markets for Bangladeshi businessmen. For example, currently, Bangladeshi entrepreneurs have set up farms by leasing agricultural land in various African countries, which is playing a positive role in meeting the food demand of both Bangladesh and the leasing countries, and playing an important role in the economy of both countries.
Bangladeshi peacekeepers have opened the doors of future possibilities for the Bangladesh Armed Forces by not only facing the global challenges of sending troops to the United Nations peacekeeping missions but enhancing the image and capabilities of Bangladesh and its citizens worldwide.
(The author is a Canada-based independent researcher and writer. Views are personal. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)