AT THE FLAGRAISING/WREATHLAYING CEREMONY TO COMMEMORATE THE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF UNITED NATIONS PEACEKEEPERS, 29 TH MAY, 2017
It is my honour and privilege to preside over this parade and I am pleased to welcome you all. Since its inception in 1948, United Nations peacekeeping has evolved into one of the main tools used by the international community to manage complex crises that threaten international peace and security. More than one million military, police and civilian personnel have served as UN peacekeepers. While more than 3, 300 have died devoting their lives to peace.
We have gathered here today to pay tribute to all the men and women who have served and continue to serve in UN peacekeeping operations for their high level of professionalism, dedication and courage. We salute the peacekeepers of today who serve in some of the world’s most volatile and dangerous environments and honour the memory of those who have lost their lives in the pursuit of peace.
The quest for peace has sometimes come at a great cost. Brave and gallant men and women have lost their lives in the pursuit of peace as a result of acts of violence, accidents and diseases while on peacekeeping missions. As we commemorate this Day, let me, on behalf of the Government and People of Ghana, offer our heartfelt condolences to the widows, widowers and bereaved families of our fallen heroes and those who have been permanently maimed or suffered various degrees of injuries while performing this noble duty. It is through the enormous sacrifices of these heroes that many people around the world today are living in some measure of peace and in a fairly secure and stable environment. Their valour and commitment to humanity should indeed, continue to inspire us as a nation, to strive to build and sustain peace in our dear country.
This year’s International Day of UN Peacekeepers is being commemorated under the theme: “United Nations Peacekeeping: “Investing in Peace around the World”. Since Ghana’s independence 60 years ago, we have kept faith with the tenets of our foreign policy, in line with our vision of pursuing and maintaining peaceful coexistence and cooperation with our neighbours and the world at large. This is evidenced by Ghana’s continuous steadfastness and willingness to answer the call for peacekeeping troops to serve in various conflict zones around the world. Cumulatively, Ghana has served in over 65 United Nations Peacekeeping Missions, including those in Cambodia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Congo, Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, South Sudan and several other special missions around the world and continues to participate in such Peacekeeping Missions. Ghana’s contributions, no doubt, demonstrate her commitment to peace and a better future for those in the conflictridden regions of our world.
In demonstration of Ghana’s commitment to international peace and security, Ghana has always concretely and visibly participated in UN peacekeeping operations. Indeed, for over fifty (50) years, Ghana has maintained an enviable position in the ranking of troop and Police contributing countries to UN Peacekeeping operations.
The dynamics of conflicts have metamorphosed in our time, the main actors in today’s conflicts are nonstate actors, who are now, in certain situations, becoming transnational such as Boko haram, AlShabab and Islamic State jihadist groups, adding a new dimension to the challenges faced by UN peacekeepers. That notwithstanding, Ghana’s investment in peace cannot be overemphasised.
Ghanaians on peacekeeping missions have engaged in humanitarian activities to bring hope and encouragement to several populations by providing social services to some communities they serve and offering free medical treatment to residents. They also care for the less privileged and supply potable drinking water to public health institutions and communities in their areas of responsibility. These humanitarian acts in the midst of turmoil, have struck a chord in the hearts of many who have on countless occasions, commended Ghanaian peacekeepers for their discipline and dedication to the cause of peace. Ghana will continue to cooperate with the UN to assist in maintaining peace, the world over.
The traditional model of UN Peacekeeping Operations, as we all know, was developed during the Cold War era as a means of resolving conflicts between states. However, the world, since then, has increasingly witnessed intrastate conflicts which have required a multidimensional approach in global attempts to find conclusive solutions. Such approaches have led to an expansion of the nonmilitary component of peacekeeping operations, whose successes are largely dependent on the work of civilian experts in key areas such as human rights, rule of law, gender, child protection and elections. Women form a significant component of peacekeeping missions. The surge in the demand for complex peacekeeping operations, has placed new strains on the international system, troop contributing countries as well as the troops, who are increasingly facing grave threats.
As a responsible member of the United Nations, Ghana has demonstrated her commitment to the Organisation, by annually organising various activities to mark the International Day for UN Peacekeepers since 2003, thereby bringing this important aspect of the Organisation’s work close to our people. The annual celebration offers the international community in general and Ghana in particular, an opportunity to reflect and deliberate on important issues affecting the dignity of the human race.
I wish to use this occasion to emphasise the importance of the values of tolerance, unity and respect for the rule of law in our body politic here in Ghana. We can succeed in building a vibrant and stable democracy underpinned by a prosperous economy, only if we work relentlessly to maintain the peace and security that we have enjoyed for decades.