Kazakhstan not sending peacemakers to Liberia amid Ebola outbreak14 october 2014, 17:53
The West African nation of Liberia is currently afflicted by a major outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus, which has already caused deaths of more than 4,000 people. In Liberia alone, as of October 8, there were 4076 reported cases and 2316 total deaths.
The virus was first reported by the World Health Organization (WHO) in the West African nation of Guinea in March 2014. The disease then rapidly spread to the neighboring countries of Liberia and Sierra Leone. It is the largest Ebola outbreak ever documented, and the first recorded in the region.
“Amid the unfavorable epidemiological situation (outbreak of Ebola) Kazakhstan is not planning to have its military observers join the UN peacemaking mission in Liberia,” Kazakhstan's Defence Ministry told Interfax-Kazakhstan.
When asked about participation of Kazakh peacemakers in the UN mission in Haiti and Ivory Coast (Cote d'Ivoire), the officials said: “Since the security situation in the regions recommended by the Kazakh Foreign Ministry for the missions is relatively stable, gradual withdrawal of troops from the regions is underway, so obtaining vacancies from the UN takes a long time.”
In addition, the press service of the Ministry confirmed that two officers of Kazakhstan's Kazbat peacemaking battalion (military personnel is recruited into the battalion on voluntary basis only and consists only of contracted military men) had been sent to participate in the UN peacemaking mission in Western Sahara for a period of twelve months each.
According to Kazakhstan President’s decree No.161 dated October 11, 2011 that approved the military doctrine, observance of international obligations to upkeep peace and security, including participation in peacemaking activities, is one of the major objectives of Kazakhstan’s defense policy. The main principles of Kazakhstan’s participation in peacemaking operations are impartiality and retaining full neutrality, lack of special relations with any of the conflicting parties, abstaining from direct or indirect cooperation in pursuance of interests of any of the said parties if that infringes on interests of other participants of the conflict.
During the mission, the immunities and privileges of UN personnel are extended to the peacemakers, according to the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations, which Kazakhstan signed in 1995. Under the mandate of the UN mission, the main task of military observers is to monitor and report the situation. “It is important to remember that peacemakers do not engage in conflicts, do not choose any side and do not even bear arms,” the Ministry emphasized.
Peacemaking training of Kazakh military observers is carried out jointly with the United States, Great Britain, Turkey, Germany, and France in line with the requirements of the UN as well as in Kazakhstan's Military Institute of Ground Forces. Besides, Kazakhstan’s Armed Forces regularly participate in the UN training courses.
In March this year, Kazakhstan selected twenty officers, who would take part in UN peacekeeping forces as observers in Haiti, Western Sahara, Ivory Coast (Cote d'Ivoire) and Liberia. "We have selected 20 military men for UN missions (...) and notified the Department of Peace-keeping Operations about it using the Foreign Ministry's channels. The military observers from Kazakhstan will be set on missions in accordance with the UN troop rotation schedule. The dates of their departure on missions will be known shortly," Ministry of Defense of Kazakhstan told Tengrinews in March.
The military personnel was selected for UN peacemaking missions based on the following criteria:
- military rank between captain to lieutenant-colonel;
- successful completion of the special UN training course;
- knowledge of the UN peacekeeping guidelines;
- good command of the English language;
- skills in driving of cars and military vehicles equipped with manual gearbox.
Participation of Kazakh military men in UN missions is expected to improve Kazakhstan's chances to succeed in its bid to become a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council in 2017-2018.
By Assel Satubaldina