Observing International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers

My 29 is a very significant date to Ghana for two reasons: it’s solemn day as Ghana joins the rest of the world to pay tribute to personnel who lost their lives whileon peacekeeping duties across the globe, conversely it also marks a dark spot in Ghana as we remember the killing of an infantry officer, Major Maxwell Mahama, in 2017 at Denkyira Obuasi in the Central Region, under the false alarm that he was an armed robber.

As part of the mandate of the international community to maintain a peaceful global environment established on May 29, the first UN  begun peacekeeping mission in 1948 when it Security Council authorised the deployment of military observers to the Middle East to form the United Nations Truce Supervisison Organisation(UNTSO) to monitor the armistice between Israel and its Arab neighbours.

The scope of peacekeeping has since been expanded and with many UN member countries contributing troops for peacekeeping missions in conflict zones across the globe, following the success of the UNTSO over seven decades.

Indeed, the UN peacekeeping operations have since kept the world at a relatively peaceful environment, with their troops bringing reliefs to conflicts zones on the surface of the earth.

Significantly, the Un peacekeeping operations have grown into a multi-dimensional apparatus with its mandate going beyond maintenance of global peace and security to facilitating the political process of conducting elections  to restore democracy, after conflicting elements  have laid their arms, they protect civilians and assist in the disarmament, demobilisations and reintegration of former combatants, and promote humanitarian services.

In effect the UN peacekeepers help to rebuild societies by helping the people to pick the pieces left of their lives.

More than 1 million women and men have served in 72 UN peacekeeping operations, directly impacting the lives of millions of people and saving countless lives. Today, UN Peacekeeping deploys more than 87,000 military, police and civilian personnel in 12 operations.

Ghana has serve under the Blue Beret, an international symbol of the United Nation Peacekeeping forces, since 1960 when she began contributing troops to keep the world at peace. The first of Ghana’s peacekeeping operations, as a member of the UN, was the deployment of troops to calm down nerves in the then Republic of Congo, under the United Nations Operations in Congo (UNUC).

Since then, Ghana has been in the forefront in peacekeeping missions, and ranked among the top 10 countries of the UN very regular and timely in contributing personnel for peacekeeping operations.

On Sunday, May 29, Ghana as torchbearer of search for global peace and security will join the international community to pay tribute to peacekeepers who lost their lives on the battle field as well as fondly remember those who have braved the storm and are keeping peace at conflict zones.

The solemn occasion will be observed at the forecourt of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration with a flag raising and wreath laying in memory of the fallen heroes, who will forever be remembered for the search for peace for humankind.

Indeed, the global theme for observing this year’s UN Peacekeepers’ Day is “People .Peace. Progress. The Power of Partnership.”

Ghana is celebrating the day on the theme “Partnering for Peace and Progress for all People.”

The choice of this year’s theme is borne out of the fact that though peacekeeping has helped save countless lives and brought peace and stability to many countries over the decades, the success story cannot only be attributable to the UN, because the global body’s peacekeeping duties cannot fully succeed on its own in creating the necessary conditions to end conflict and secure lasting political solutions.

Consequently, it remains paramount  the UN’s partnerships with Member States, civil society, non-governmental organizations, UN agencies and other parties are fundamental to bringing tangible improvements in the lives of ordinary people, in areas such as economic development, the rule of law, women’s rights, human rights, health and education.

To mark the Day at the UN Headquarters in New York on ahead of the day, yesterday Thursday, the Secretary-General laid a wreath in honour of all peacekeepers who have lost their lives while serving under the UN flag over the past seven decades.

The Dag Hammarskjold medal was awarded posthumously to peacekeepers who lost their lives in 2021. The Military Gender Advocate of the Year medalwas also awarded at the virtual ceremony.

In recognition of Ghana as forerunner in UN peacekeeping operations, representatives of United Nations (UN) member states will converge on Accra last quarter of next year to strengthen their support to peacekeeping, at the 2023 UN Peacekeeping Ministerial Meeting.

The platform will enable countries to close peacekeeping capability gaps through pledges on technology, medical capacity building, reduction of the UN’s carbon footprint, and increase of the number and role of women peacekeepers.

It is expected to assembly foreign and defense ministers, heads of international organisations, academics, and journalists to enhance the impact of the UN’s peacekeeping operations. The UN peacekeeping ministerial meeting was last held in December 2021 in Seoul, South Korea.

“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 the service of peace. And let us reaffirm our commitment to building a world free from the scourge of war.”
By Salifu Abdul-Rahaman

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