Ghana joins the United Nations (UN) missions across the globe today to mark the International Day of UN Peacekeepers, with a wreath laying ceremony at the Forecourt of Parliament House in Accra.
The day offers opportunity to member countries to pay tribute to the uniformed and civilian personnel’s invaluable contribution to global peace and security.
More than 3,800 peacekeepers have lost their lives serving under the flag since 1948, including 98 last year.
Two Ghanaians: Corporal Mercy Adade and Deputy Commissioner of Police, Franck Sammy Kwofie, lost their lives in peacekeeping operations and were among the 119 peacekeepers honoured posthumously by the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, at the UN Headquarters in New York on Friday.
The day also serves as an occasion to educate the public on issues of concern, mobilise political will and resources to address global problem and to reinforce achievements of humanity.
The theme for this year is, ‘Protecting civilians, protecting peace’ and it also marks the upcoming 20th anniversary when, for the first time, the Security Council explicitly mandated a peacekeeping mission (UNAMIL in Sierra Leone) to protect civilians who bear the brunt in the cross-fire in conflict zones.
Today, the UN deploys about 100,000 troops from the 124-member countries, under their trade mark of the Blue Helmet, to 14 global hotspots to maintain peace and security.
A chunk of them come from developing countries, including Ethiopia, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Rwanda and Nepal who are the front runners in troop contributions.
Ghana ranks ninth largest contributor of uniformed personnel to UN peacekeeping and currently contributes nearly 2,800 military and police personnel to the UN peace operations in Abyei, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lebanon, Mali, the Middle East, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan and Western Sahara.
Over the past 20 years, protection of civilians has increasingly been at the heart of UN peacekeeping and 90 per cent of peacekeepers serving in eight peacekeeping operations in Abyei, Darfur, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Lebanon, Mali and South Sudan,are mandated to protect civilians.
Peacekeeping has proven to be a solid investment in global peace, security and prosperity and the international community marks the day amidst funding deficit of $2billion dollars for the reimbursement of member countries for contributing troops and military hardware.
Peacekeeping operations are funded through payment of dues and some member countries fall short of paying in time.
Despite the size and breadth of its operations, it is said that peacekeeping budget is less than one and half per cent of global military spending.
The top contributors to peacekeeping funding are United States, China, Japan, Germany, France and the United Kingdom.
Peacekeeping operation is a major mechanism put in place by the global community for the maintenance of global peace and security, directly impacting the lives of millions of people, protecting the world’s most vulnerable and saving countless lives.
It dates back to May 29, 1948, when the Security Council authorised the deployment of UN military observers to the Middle East, to form the United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation, to monitor the Armistice Agreement between Israel and its Arab neighbours.
By Salifu Abdul-Rahaman