NEW YORK, May 17 — In its bid to get the coveted non-permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for 2015 and 2016, Malaysia could further bolster its credentials by playing up its contribution to the UN peace-keeping operations in a number of crisis-plagued regions.

Indeed, as many UN based diplomats have been privately telling Bernama, Malaysia’s peace-keeping contribution should be a “big plus” in its endeavours to get the UNSC seat which will be decided upon in October this year.

Malaysia’s candidature is already backed by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and the regional Asia Pacific group within the UN. 

Malaysia’s permanent representative to the United Nations, Datuk Hussein Haniff, has been individually calling on foreign permanent representatives to the United Nations, and seeking their support for Malaysia’s candidature when the final voting takes place in October. 

Malaysia’s foreign minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman, who is set to arrive tomorrow in New York for a week’s visit, is planning to meet with other UN regional groups — besides the Asia-Pacific group, other UN regional groups include the African group, Eastern Europe group, Latin America and Caribbean States (GRULAC), the Western European and Others Group (WEOG) – and also participate in a panel discussion with other experts on UN peace-keeping operations.

Malaysia has, traditionally, been a major contributor in terms of personnel for peace-keeping operations under the UN aegis. Malaysia’s biggest battalion is currently in Lebanon.

 “We also have monitors in a number of African countries such as the Congo, South Sudan, Western Sahara, etc. We have had large peace-keeping troops in Bosnia and Somalia.  Indeed, the peace-keeping operations in Somalia were headed by a Malaysian,” Hussein said in an interview with Bernama.

Malaysia currently has nearly 1,200 peace-keeping troops stationed around the world.

 “Our training programmes held in Malaysia for peacekeepers and personnel from several developing countries have been well appreciated internationally,” Hussein maintained. 

Indeed, during his last visit to Malaysia, UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon visited the training centre where a hall has been named after him. Even the US administration has praised Malaysia’s peace-keeping contribution.

Indeed, Tom Kelly, Assistant Secretary of State for Political/Military Affairs, who visited Malaysia in December last year, described Malaysia as a “peace-keeping powerhouse”.

In his blog dated Dec 13, 2013 Kelly said that Malaysia is the first of the 66 GPOI (Global Peace Operations Initiative) partner nations to achieve self-sufficiency training for their military peacekeepers to deploy to UN peace operations.

“This accomplishment is a testament to Malaysia’s commitment as an international partner in promoting global peace and security,” he said.

Kelly was also full of praise for Malaysia’s peace-keeping centre which, he said, “not only symbolizes Malaysia’s leadership in peacekeeping, but also the strong and enduring partnership between the United States and Malaysia”.

The US administration had expressed its appreciation for Malaysia’s help through its peacekeeping personnel to American soldiers in Somalia.

Indeed, peacekeeping cooperation is a mantra that resonates well in the United States which could back Malaysia’s candidature for the UNSC seat. 

US officials, including Kelly, have praised Malaysia’s pioneering role in integrating more women into peace operations; female peacekeepers play an important role in peacekeeping by broadening the skill sets available within a mission, particularly by improving access and support for local women in post-conflict struggling to rebuild.

 “Yes, Malaysia’s peace-keeping contribution could well be a forte in its efforts to make a bid for the (UNSC) seat,” an Indian diplomat told Bernama.

India, like Malaysia, also has a long tradition in contributing to the UN peacekeeping efforts.

Aside from the peace-keeping contribution, Malaysia has been highlighting in recent years its Global Movement of Moderates, a brainchild of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who had also spoken about it at the UN General Assembly in September 2013.

While introducing the GMM in January 2013, Najib had then underscored that embracing moderation and rejecting extremism in all its forms was necessary for the world to coexist peacefully.

The GMM and Najib’s words should resonate well here in the United States which is outraged by, and has strongly condemned, extremism. 

The American public, with its campaign “Get Our Girls Back”, is seething with rage over the abductions of Nigerian girls by an extremist outfit called Boko Haram which has been using religion to justify its criminal actions.

Extremism is universally condemned; this also gives impetus to the moderation idea. — Bernama