Ghana was on Wednesday given thumbs up for her consistent peacekeeping role in over 50 years despite the country’s budgetary and developmental constraints.
“It is never easy for countries that are themselves facing budgetary and development constraints to muster courage and resources to support the needs of others.
“Yet this is what Ghana has done consistently for more than 50 years,” Dr Bernard Coquelin, Representative of the UN Resident Coordinator in Ghana, said at press conference preceding the celebration of the International Day of the United Nations (UN) Peacekeepers.
The International Day of UN Peacekeepers, which is commemorated each year on the 29th of May, is an occasion to salute peacekeepers serving in 17 missions in some of the world’s most volatile and dangerous environments.
The Day is also a time to mourn fallen peacekeepers. Nearly 3,000 “Blue Helmets” have died devoting their lives to peace.
It is on the theme: “UN Peacekeeping, Adapting to new Challenges: the Ghanaian Perspective”.
Dr Coquelin said the international community owed Ghana a debt of gratitude for the enormous sacrifices the country and her courageous and peace-loving people continued to make towards international peace.
“There is no larger sacrifice than to give up one’s life for the sake of another. Here too, Ghana excels with 130 casualties over many years of supporting peace in many parts of the world,” he said.
According to him the UN spent over seven billion dollars on peacekeeping from 2012 to date adding that though the stakes were high saving human lives was paramount.
Dr Coquelin said with the complex nature of conflicts on the continent, peace building was very critical as it was a long term solution to causes of conflict and violence in a local, national or international context.
“It is better to prevent a bone from breaking than fix a broken bone,” he said and added that preventing violent conflict from happening saved live and spared countless men, women and children the traumatic experience and consequences of violence and war.
This, he said, Ghana had achieved and was sharing with the continent.
He said contesting the 2012 Election in court instead of the streets attested to Ghana’s peace building efforts.
“Permit me to lift Ghana’s flag higher by appreciating not only the wonderful support to peacekeeping, but to the peace building effort of the world," he said.
Mr Leslie Kojo Christian, Chief Director of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, said in demonstrating commitment to international peace and security, Ghana had always concretely and visibly participated in UN Peacekeeping operations.
He said the traditional model of UN Peacekeeping operations was developed during the Cold War era as a means of resolving conflicts between states.
He, however, said the world, since then, had increasingly witnessed intra-state conflicts which had attained a multidimensional approach in global attempts to find conclusive solutions.
Mr Christian said the surge in the demand for complex peacekeeping operations had placed new strains on the international system, troop contributing states as well as troops who were increasingly facing grave threats.
He said in the year 2000, the UN sought to regenerate itself in an effective response to the complex nature of peacekeeping operations and that thorough interrogation of complexities underscored the need for peacekeeping missions to be established on the basis of a clear and specific mandate.
This, he said, emphasized the need for missions to have clear Security Council mandates, well-crafted guidelines, robust command and control systems, and the capacity and determination to perform such difficult tasks.
“The success or failure in protecting civilians directly affects the credibility and legitimacy of UN Peacekeeping operations, as well as their standing with populations in conflict areas,” he said.
Mr Christian said it was evident that the nexus between peacekeeping and peace building needed to be strengthened and that in an improved security environment, peacekeepers were capable of playing their new roles by providing national and international actors with the essential support to implement long-term peace building measures.
“With the broadening of the peacekeeping agenda, the tool box today includes measures to prevent conflicts and to support nation building and institutional and economic development, in addition to classic peacekeeping actions,” he said.
The UN, according to Mr Christian, had also become a key actor in developing the international legal framework for codes of conduct and rules of engagements and in dealing with the consequences of armed conflicts.
He noted that whilst addressing the challenges to peacekeeping operations, it was imperative that the occasion was used to emphasize the importance of the values of tolerance, unity and respect for the rule of law in Ghana’s body politic.
“Our vibrant and stable democracy underpinned by a prosperous economy can only be sustained if we work tirelessly to maintain the peace and security that the country has been enjoying over the years,” he said.
Activities outlined to mark the day include Adult Education programmes on peacekeeping in five local languages, screening of documentaries on the subject and radio programmes and a flag-raising and wreath-laying ceremony on May 29.
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