Ghana gained independence from Britain in 1957 and a Republican status on July 1, 1960. The euphoria that greeted Ghana’s status as a republic cut across all political, religious and ethnic divides as testified by the then Leader of Parliamentary Opposition, S. D. Dombo, when he said “the coming into operation of the Republican constitution would breathe life into the dry bones of our freedom.
With Ghana as a sovereign republic, we should be better able to give velocity and direction to the wind of change blowing over the great continent of Africa,” (Daily Graphic, 1 July, 1960, p3).
Ghana, from her birth, projected herself as a torch bearer of peace and political development in Africa and the world. This has been demonstrated by the first President, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, in most of his writing and speeches.
Responding to the Queen’s farewell message delivered by Lord Listowel, the Governor-General and the Queen’s representative in Ghana, Dr Nkrumah, said: “The people of Ghana have enacted for themselves a new constitution because of the conviction that we need a form of government which will more truly interpret the aspirations and hopes of the people of Ghana and give full expression to our African personality.”
The objective of this article is to look at the role Ghana has played in world peace. Right from 1960, Ghana has been hailed for its role in world peace and African freedom. From Congo in Central Africa to Sinai and Lebanon in the Middle East, Ivory Coast, Liberia and Mali in West Africa, the Ghana Army and the Police have shown a shining example for the maintenance of world peace through peacekeeping operations.
Leaders and individual Ghanaians have equally shown their commitment to promoting international peace anytime the lot falls on them to do so.
But before that let us look at Ghana’s own internal security situation; Ghana has had its share of internal security problems mostly, chieftaincy, land and religious disputes. Nonetheless, these internal conflicts have been well managed so much so that none has generated a national conflict.
Politically, the country has also witnessed some political insecurity but again these have not led to a national disturbance. It is the opinion of this writer that the peace Ghana enjoys today is as a result of seeds sowed by the founding fathers of the country. The role the Ghanaian security has played in the maintenance of peace in conflict ridden countries; has further enhanced its image as a peace loving country.
Dr Kwame Nkrumah
In 1961, Dr Kwame Nkrumah carried the message ‘Let’s live in peace now’ across three continents- Africa, America and Asia. The following year he was presented with the 1961 Lenin Peace Prize by Mr Unitri Skobeltzyn, Chairman of the International Committee of Lenin Peace Prize. The Lenin Peace Prize is named after Vladimir Ilich Lenin, who blazed the trail to freedom, peace and equality. The prize is awarded by a special committee “for the promotion of peace among nations” (Evening News, July 1, 1962, p2).
Presenting the prize, Mr Skobeltzyn said of Dr Nkrumah, “Dr Kwame Nkrumah enjoys a great and deserving authority in the countries of the African continent. He is known to the world public as a courageous and staunch fighter for peace.”
Earlier, at a conference of non-aligned countries in Belgrade, the Evening News quoted Dr Nkrumah as saying, “as long as the disarmament problem is not solved, as long as no agreement on this question is signed, the necessary conditions cannot be created for maintenance of peace.”
His message of peace was echoed in the United Nations Organisation (UNO) now United Nations (UN) and the Organis ation of African Unity (OAU) now African Union (AU). Such was the vision of the first President to safeguard the independence of Ghana and world peace until his overthrow in 1966.
Mr Kofi Annan
From March 1993 until his appointment as Secretary-General to the United Nations on 17th December, 1996, Mr Kofi Annan served as United Nations Assistant-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations from March 1993 to February 1994 and later as Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations from February 1994 to October 1995; April 1996 to December 1996. His tenure as Under-Secretary-General witnessed growth in size and scope of United Nations peacekeeping operations with a total deployment of almost 70,000 military and civilian personnel from 77 countries.
“As Secretary-General, Mr. Annan’s first major initiative was his plan for reform, ‘Renewing the United Nations’, which was presented to the Member States in July 1997 and has been pursued ever since with an emphasis on improving coherence and coordination.
His April 1998 report to the Security Council on ‘The Causes of Conflict and the Promotion of Durable Peace and Sustainable Development in Africa’ was among several efforts to maintain the international community’s commitment to Africa, the most disadvantaged of the world’s regions.
He has used his good offices in several delicate political situations. These included an attempt in 1998 to gain Iraq’s compliance with Security Council resolutions; a mission in 1998 to help promote the transition to civilian rule in Nigeria; an agreement in 1999 to resolve a stalemate between Libya and the Security Council over the 1988 Lockerbie bombing; diplomacy in 1999 to forge an international response to violence in East Timor; and efforts in 2000 to certify Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon, and then to try and halt the violence between Israel and the Palestinians” (www.un.org/ga/aids/SGBio.html).
Another son of the soil, Lt General Emmanuel Erskine, played a vital role in peacekeeping operations in some parts of the world. Gen. Erskine served as United Nations Chief of Defence Staff in Sinaii under Emergence Force (UNEF II) and later the first commander of the UNIF in Lebanon from 1978 to 1981.
If the history of peacekeeping is to be told, Ghana will take a front seat to tell the stories of its peacekeeping exploits across the world. Mwausi Afele, a Pan-African News Agency correspondents, writing on ‘Peacekeepers are Ghana’s Treasured Export’ said among other things that “if peacekeeping was an exportable commodity, Ghana would have been rich by amassing a huge amount of money from it.” Ghana is among the top 10 troops contributing nations to the United Nations peacekeeping operations for both the police and military globally.
When he addressed the first ever Chiefs of Police (CoP) summit at the United Nations headquarters in New York, the Inspector General of Police, John Kudalor, affirmed that “very few countries can boast of Ghana’s consistency and steadfast willingness to answer the UN call to duty.”
He noted that after “56 years of consistent UN operations, neither the commitment of the Ghana government nor its peacekeepers had waned, since the country keeps on deploying men and women in almost all UN peacekeeping missions” (www.ghana.gov.gh/index.php/media-center/news/2807-igp-affirms-ghana-s-commitment-to-world-peace).
Ghana’s contribution in brief
In Liberia, Ghana contributed 11, 429 troops, representing more than one-quarter of the total troops. Thirty six Ghanaian soldiers lost their lives in that operation.
When civil war broke out in Rwanda in 1994, the UN under the OAU brokered Arusha Agreement, created UNAMIR to provide security for the smooth implementation of the accord. Ghana responded to the call and contributed 2,741 out of a total of 5,200 troops that served in UNAMIR. When all the countries serving in the operation-Belgium, Tunisia and Bangladesh- withdrew their troops, Ghana kept faith with the Rwandans. Ghana lost 5 out of the 26 casualties recorded.
As the embers of war were dying in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Liberia’s neighbor, was set ablaze and when Ghana was called again to duty in 1999, the country answered and by May 2000, 803 Ghanaian soldiers had served in UNAMSIL, where two soldiers lost their lives.
Ghana’s contribution to peace in the world is so enormous that you will need numerous pages to tell the story. Between 1973 and 1979 when Israel and Egypt went to war over Sinai, Ghana and Sierra Leone were the only African countries that contributed troops to the maintenance of peace. Ghana’s troops stood at 8, 862 by the end of the operation and out of 55 casualty rate, 6 were Ghanaians.
This loss did not deter the country as Ghanaian soldiers were moved from Sinai to Lebanon and they participated in peacekeeping in Lebanon from 1979 to date.
Can we forget about Congo in the 1960s and later in 1999, Cambodia from 1992 -1993, Chad, Ivory Coast and Mali? Ghana contributed troops to all these nations because she believes in ‘let’s live in peace now.’
As Ghana celebrates the 56th Anniversary of her Republican status, all Ghanaians should be proud of their country no matter the current socio-economic challenges, which are not unsurmountable.
By Jotie N. Sule