The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration (MFA&RI) has set up an adhoc preparatory committee, comprising representatives of ministries, department and agencies, to plan the 2015 United Nations (UN) Peacekeepers Day celebration, slated for May 29.
The United Nations has set aside May 29, of each year, in memory of peacekeepers who have lost their lives in the cause of peace, and pay tribute to people who have served and continue to serve in peacekeeping operations, for their levels of professionalism, dedication and courage.
The day is celebrated worldwide among UN member countries with a number of activities, including a solemn ceremony at the UN Headquarters in New York, US, where the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, will lay a wreath in remembrance of those who lost their lives during peacekeeping operations and pay tribute to peacekeepers.
The Director of Multilateral Relations Bureau of MRA&RI, E.B Asare-Asiedu, who presided over the first preparatory meeting in Accra, thanked the members for accepting to serve on the committee, and urged them to work assiduously to hold a successful ceremony to mark the peacekeepers day.
This year’s celebration is very significant as it marks 70 years of the existence of the global body which continues to use instrument of peacekeeping in the discharge of its responsibility under the UN Charter to ensuring global peace and stability for sustainable development.
The theme for this year celebration is “UN 70” and UN Peacekeeping: Past, present and future,” and Ghana proposed to mark the day under a local sub theme “UN 70” Ghana in Peacekeeping: Past, present and future.”
The day will be marked in Accra with a wreath laying and flag raising, as well as photo exhibition of Ghana’s participation in UN peacekeeping at the Forecourt of the State House which will also include speeches by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and a statement from the UN Secretary General, to be read by the UN Resident Coordinator in Ghana.
About 113,057 personnel are serving in the peacekeeping operations, including Ghanaians who have become a household name in peacekeeping, and ranked 10 among the list of countries engaged in UN peacekeeping operations.
About 3,096 personnel have died while serving under UN peacekeeping operations since 1948, involving 130 Ghanaians who lost their lives as at 2013.
The UN peacekeeping mission dates back to 1948 when a year earlier, the world body endorsed a plan to separate Palestine, creating within its boundary the state of Israel and leaving the rest of the region for Palestinian Arabs.
Hostilities broke out in the area as a result of the separation necessitating the UN to deploy the United Nations Truce Supervision Organisations to maintain peace in the region.
Peacekeeping was taken to another level in the 1950s when the Canadian Minister of External Affairs Lester B. Pearson recommended a large scale peacekeeping force to curtail the breakout of hostilities in the Suez.
Since 1948, 67 peacekeeping operations had been carried out by the UN and there are currently 16 UN peacekeeping operations around the world with seven on the African continent.
By Salifu Abdul-Rahaman