[LETTERS to the editor]Creative peacekeeping role needed
The third contingent of the Korean army’s Dongmyeong unit has been dispatched to Lebanon recently. It is significant that the bill for extending the Dongmyeong deployment was passed last month before [the National Assembly got deadlocked on] other political issues.
Now there is a high possibility that Korea will increase its participation in peacekeeping operations. The Lee Myung-bak administration announced upon its inauguration a strong resolve to strengthen Korea’s standing in the world through reliable diplomacy, contributing to international development in addition to its “Global Korea” program of pragmatic diplomacy, denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and strengthening the Korea-U.S. alliance.
However, some more detailed measures are needed to increase Korea’s participation in peacekeeping. First, relevant laws should be made in order to guarantee the stable and timely dispatch of troops overseas. The 18th National Assembly is urged to pass such laws.
Second, a Korean version of the PKO model tailored to Korea’s situation should be developed. A model can be created based on examples of various countries’ PKO activities and Korea’s own experience. Korea has mainly participated in engineering, medical operations and civil affairs. Based on its experiences in those fields, Korea is advised to branch out into construction, energy, education and IT sectors. This calls for a creative model where related companies, experts and government sectors take part.
Third, a government-level organization specializing in PKO - upgraded from the PKO Center currently operated by the Defense Ministry - should be established where studies can be made about developing a Korean version of peacekeeping contribution and relevant policies, as well as educate and train participants. Those who successfully complete the mission with the assistance of the organization will be able to advance into inter-governmental or non-governmental organizations based on their previous experience. Subsequently, it will contribute to the globalization of both the Korean army and Korean youth.
Fourth, nothing is more important than the people’s understanding and support so that Korea can increase its participation in peacekeeping. The government should let people know that the country’s participation is a part of diplomacy that serves national interests as well as contributes to the international community.
Cho Yun-young, professor of international politics, Chung-Ang University
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