Korea’s role in the worldThe government is considering joining the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Haiti, which has been devastated by the region’s worst earthquake in more than two centuries. Korean troops joining the UN operation would provide security, rescue and rebuilding assistance.
We welcome the idea. The bill endorsing Korean participation in the UN Peacekeeping Operation passed the National Assembly last month. The government should use the opportunity to commit more aggressively to peacekeeping missions and providing humanitarian aid.
The news from one of the poorest and most disaster-prone regions in the Western Hemisphere is horrific and distressing. At the request of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon after a trip to the area, the UN Security Council ordered an additional 3,500 troops to support the current 9,000-man peacekeeping mission.
By participating in the UN peacekeeping operation, along with our efforts to provide Official Development Assistance, we can show ourselves to be an active contributor to the affairs of the international community. Korea went from being a beneficiary of development aid to a donor country after it became a member of the Development Assistance Committee of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development last year.
But the country’s contribution to peacekeeping missions remains insufficient. Some 95,000 soldiers and police dispatched by 116 countries are active in U.S. peacekeeping operations around the world. Korea sends 400 officers, which makes it 39th in terms of the size of its contribution. The government and legislature increased the peacekeeping reserve force to 1,000 and established a legal system for mobilizing soldiers to disaster-hit regions as necessary.
The government, which originally decided to provide $1 million to Haiti, has increased the fund to $10 million with the help of the private sector. If Korea joins the peacekeeping operation, it can live up to its status as the world’s 15th largest economy and host country of the next G-20 summit.
But more important than our national image is our humanitarian duty when human disaster and tragedy occurs. Under the new law, the government can draw up the size and time of troop dispatch requests before the plan gains approval in the National Assembly. The government should immediately begin discussions of this plan, so that the troops can be dispatched in April when the law goes into effect.