For the past 60 years, the United Nations has been keeping foes apart in strife-torn parts
of the world, and rebuilding countries and communities afterwards. In the UN’s peace
operations in Africa, India has been an active partner since its peacekeeping mission in the
Congo in 1960. In this paper, all references to ‘the Congo’ denote the Democratic Republic
of Congo (formerly Zaire), and not the Republic of Congo (or Congo–Brazzaville).
This paper explores India’s peacekeeping efforts in Africa over the last five decades.
It analyses the reasons for India’s engagement in African peace missions, and finds that
different motives and incentives appear to be driving India’s peacekeeping. Some of these
can be explained along Cold War fault lines.
A chronological account of India’s peacekeeping actions in Africa illustrates that country’s
commitment to securing peace, the depth of involvement, the fatalities bravely borne and
the hardships endured. Even more important, the record shows that India continues to use
the experience that has been gained to refine its approach to peacekeeping.
In conclusion, the paper offers a forecast of what form India’s commitments to Africa’s
peacekeeping requirements are likely to take in the future. India may well develop criteria
that require a greater return on investment than has been the case over the last halfcentury.
A more tempered approach — particularly in view of India’s global aspirations
— seems likely.