On 25-26 June 2023, Under-Secretary-General (USG) of the United Nations (UN) for Peace Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix visited Bangladesh on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to attend the first ever UN peacekeeping ministerial preparatory meeting to be held in Dhaka. The country co-hosted the meeting with Canada, and Uruguay, which is a matter of incredible pride, but the controversy surrounding the visit stuck out like a sore thumb. Although the USG generously appreciated Bangladesh’s peacekeeping efforts in maintaining world peace during the meeting, some vested groups nationally and internationally tried to defame Bangladesh’s honour before and after the visit. Yet, the successful visit does imply that Bangladesh and the current government’s image hasn’t been tainted by such rumours and scandals. The meeting was held ahead of the UN Peacekeeping Ministerial, to be held in Accra, Ghana, on 5 and 6 December 2023. The two-day meeting also welcomed representatives from different troop-contributing countries and peacekeeping experts who discussed the theme “Women in UN Peacekeeping.” During the visit, Lacroix met Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the Minister and State Minister of Foreign Affairs, the chiefs of Bangladesh Army, Navy and Air Force, and the head of Bangladesh Police. He took this opportunity to applaud Bangladesh for its diligent peacekeeping operations and appreciated the impact of Bangladeshi personnel in different conflict-prone regions all around the world. He also assured the Army chief that more peacekeepers from Bangladesh will be recruited in the near future. The gendered aspect of peacekeeping, which was the main theme of the meeting was also discussed by Jean-Pierre Lacroix and Foreign Minister Dr. AK Abdul Momen; both recognized the significance of female peacekeepers in UN missions. Although the Under-Secretary-General had nothing but positive things to say about Bangladesh’s peacekeeping missions, before this visit, the chatter around banning RAB personnel from participating in UN deployment increased gradually. Two weeks before the visit, the chief advocacy officer of HRW, a New York-based human rights organization, Bruno Stagno Ugarte stated, “Lacroix should publicly voice concerns over abuses by government security forces during his upcoming visit to Bangladesh.” He accused, in particular, the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), of being involved in serious human rights violations and later getting deployed in UN peacekeeping missions. Amnesty International also asked for a more transparent screening process that won’t be limited to high-ranking officials mentioning the case of Bangladesh. This isn’t the first attempt by international groups trying to undermine Bangladesh’s peacekeeping efforts. In November of 2021, 12 international organizations in a letter to Jean-Pierre Lacroix suggested that the United Nations Department of Peace Operations should ban Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) from UN deployment. This was followed by the sanction of RAB by the United States. But it seems that the interests of the vested groups to undermine the peacekeeping missions and by extension undermine the current regime didn’t hold much water as Mr Lacroix’s visit turned out to be in favour of Dhaka. Bangladesh has been of the largest Troop contributing countries (TPCCs) for the last 3 decades and it’s clear UNDPO understands the importance of the country. Currently, 7,237 peacekeepers are deployed in 16 different countries all over the world and the meetings with Bangladeshi officials focused on the future of such missions rather than indulging in conversations of he said, she said. UN peacekeeping missions are going through a crisis as the conflict environment is becoming hostile towards peacekeepers wherein the missions are getting expensive with less effectiveness in peacebuilding measures. Participation from countries in UN missions is also decreasing. Along with the absence of active participation from great powers, Bangladesh becomes a dependable candidate for the UN to strengthen its peacekeeping missions. Lacroix joining the invitation of the Bangladeshi Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) and Bangladesh’s inclination in UN peacekeeping affirms that the journey of both will continue strongly in the future. The visit has rather sealed this, failing the attempts of banning Bangladesh. UN’s trust in Bangladeshi blue helmets has rather become more durable now. Bangladeshi officials and the USG have also discussed strategies to ensure that all peacekeepers, irrespective of gender, can thrive in a safe and supportive environment which is especially important in the context that 3 Bangladeshi peacekeepers have recently been injured in an explosive attack in Mali. Lacroix also introduced Action for Peacekeeping (A4P) initiative in the meeting which reaffirms certification of personnel by UN standards, has to be implemented by the member state meaning the demands of the right groups regarding UN screening will surely not be heeded by any time soon. This is important for Bangladesh as, despite many other countries facing the same allegations of human rights abuse, Bangladesh was only targeted due to its internal problems by such groups. There’s more to such demands, speculated to be fueled by domestic groups in the country. Lastly, this visit has demonstrated the UN’s faith in Bangladesh and has certainly solidified more of the leadership role of the country in future peacekeeping operations. The writer is a freelance columnist.