Observing International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers: ‘Peace Begins With Me’

“On this International Day of UN Peacekeepers, let us pay tribute to the men and women from countries across the World who serve selflessly, tirelessly and fearlessly in UN Peacekeeping operations.

“Let us remember the heroes who have laid down their lives in lands far from their own in service of peace. And let us reaffirm our commitment to building a world free from scourge of war”- Kofi Annan

We recall this quotation encapsulated in the speech of Ghana’s former United Nations (UN) Secretary General, the late Kofi Annan that reminds us of the significance of May 29, observed globally, by member countries including Ghana, as the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers.

The day is marked to recognise the professionalism, dedication of Peacekeepers, and to honour in particular, the memory of about 4,000 personnel in ‘Blue Beret’ who lost their lives while maintaining global peace and security, at troubled and hotspots across the globe, to bring relief, comfort and stability to victims of war in war-torn countries.

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In commemoration of the occasion, the UN Under Secretary General for Peace Operations, Jean- Pierre Lacroix, notes  that “For 75 years the UN Peacekeeping has helped to end conflicts, protect countries, advance political solutions and secure sustainable peace” adding that Peacekeepers are working in difficult and dangerous conditions to achieve “extraordinary outcomes” for communities they serve.

The UN General Assembly in its resolution 57/129 designated May 29, as the International Day of UN Peacekeepers, to commemorate the day the global body deployed its first peacekeepers, the United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation (UNTSO), in the Middle East to maintain cease fire following the outbreak of the Arab- Israeli war.

Indeed, it has been the ambitious goal of the UN, and for that matter humankind to have a “World free from scourge of war”.But this avowed goal has been far-fetched, with frequent outbreak of violent conflicts and wars, necessitating the intervention of the UN Department of Peace Operations.

Since 1948, the department has deployed more than two million peacekeepers from 125 countries in 71 different operations across the globe.Currently, more than 87,000 women and men are engaged in peacekeeping at hotspots across Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East.

The hazardous peacekeeping operations have resulted in the death of more than 4,200 peacekeepers, who lost their lives in their efforts to maintain peace and security,  for which the global community designates May 29 every year to remember and honour departed souls, recognising the serving uniformed personnel braving the storm in the battle fields.

UN peacekeeping operations in war-torn countries carry out activities including protection of civilians, conflict prevention, promoting human rights, empowering women, reducing violence and strengthening security in hotspots to bring hope and renewed consciousness in victims of violent conflicts.

‘Peace Begins With Me’

This year’s International Day of UN Peacekeepers is being observed on the theme “Peace Begins with Me” to reinforce the fact that, the search for global peace and security is not a solitary journey, but entails the commitment of everyone in the global community in building and sustaining peace.

The UN Under Secretary for  Peace Operations, Mr Lacroix, has observed that many partners, including  local communities, women and youth, civil society, humanitarian, host governments,  troops, and police,contributing countries, and member states,  work alongside the UN in a collective to bring peace in hotspots and conflict zones, and send a profound message :”We thank them for their support throughout the history of Peacekeeping and urge them to continue that commitment as the challenge we face are greater than ever.”

Ghana’s contribution to UN Peacekeeping operations

It’s not an exaggeration that Ghana, as a peace loving country and as an oasis of peace in the sub region, is synonymous with peacekeeping.

Ghana has been a very active participant in sub regional, regional and global affairs, especially in terms of peacekeeping operations. Our country ranks as 7th major contributor of uniformed personnel for UN peace keeping operations. Currently, Ghana is involved in about eight peacekeeping operations across the globe with at least 3,000 uniformed personnel.

A number of its uniformed personnel also lost their lives in the battle field, and they are recognised, remembered and honoured with wreath laying and flag raising solemn occasion on May 29 in the nation’s capital.

Ghana first contributed troops for peacekeeping operations in1960, as part of the peacekeeping operations to restore peace in the then Republic of Congo under the United Nations Operations in Congo (UNOC).

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This year’s peacekeepers’ day comes with the decorations of a female Ghanaian soldier in recognition of her role in mainstreaming gender perspective in her peacekeeping duties in accordance with the UN Security Council Resolution 1325.

Captain Cecilia Erzuah of the Ghana Armed Forces, receives the 2022 United Nations “Military Gender Advocate of the Year Award” from the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres. She is the first Ghanaian Peacekeepers recipient of the annual award.

The 32- year-old was deployed in March 2022 to serve under the UN Interim Security Forces in Abyei (UNISFA) as a Commander of the Ghanaian Engagement Platoon.

As an avid gender advocate, Captain Erzuah led regular  patrols and outreach to local leaders, women and youth group, to better understand and help  to address their concerns and needs. Also, as Protection Officer, she hosted discussions on domestic violence, gender equality and child care.

Her work reportedly increased the number of women in Community Protection Committee, improving early warning system and protection of civilians.

Implications of “Peace Begins With Me” for Ghana

For us in Ghana, celebration of this year’s peacekeepers day on the above theme is very much significant, and timely in our quest for deepening democracy and sustenance of peace and stability.

Ahead of the 2024 general elections, the political atmosphere is heating up with political campaigning.

Our citizens seeking political offices in the presidential and parliamentary elections must do well to be guided by “Peace Begins with Me” and be measured in their utterances on their political platforms, so that we will have a very peaceful elections and a stable country.


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