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29.05.2004 General News

UN Peacekeeping day commemorated

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Accra, May 29, GNA - A parade and flag-raising ceremony was held in Accra on Saturday to mark the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers.

Wreaths were laid to pay tribute to and honour UN Peacekeepers. May 29 was chosen because, on that day in 1948, the first UN Peacekeeping Mission, the UN Truce Supervision Organization, began operations with a group of military observers.

The Day is also to commemorate more that 50 years of dedication and sacrifice by peacekeepers serving under the UN's blue flag around the world to build confidence, reconcile warring parties and relieving suffering.

Deputy Defence Minister, Joseph Akudibilla, who was the Reviewing Officer and Mr. Alfred Salia Fawundu, UN Resident Coordinator in Ghana, hoisted the flags of Ghana and the UN, respectively.

Mr. Akudibilla laid the first wreath on behalf of Ghana; Mr. Fawundu laid the second one on behalf of the UN; The Chief of the Defence Staff, Lieutenant General Seth Obeng laid one on behalf of Ghana Armed Forces; while Police Commissioner Paul Quaye laid another for the Police Service.

Mr. Fawundu delivered the message of UN Secretary General Busumuru Kofi Annan, in which he said peacekeeping itself could not end wars but could offer the best possible way of ensuring sustainable peace. He said: "Let us remember that the most expensive peacekeeping operation cost far less than the cheapest war. That is an investment well worth making."

"I am proud to salute the peacekeepers serving today, and to pay tribute to those, who served in the past; their sacrifice has made the world a safer place."

Busumuru Annan noted that peacekeeping missions today were much more Complex, while the duties and responsibilities of peacekeepers had grown.

He said there were more than 53,000 peacekeepers, and at least 11,000 civilian staff from 94 countries that were deployed in 15 missions across the globe and that the number was likely to increase as the Security Council had just approved an operation for Burundi, while another was being planned for Sudan.

Busumuru Annan said the growth in missions was a welcome sign that many countries were choosing a healthier path as they emerged from violent conflict and urged member states to provide the additional peacekeepers that would be needed, and the resources that would go with them.

Mr. Akudibilla noted that much as global efforts at peacekeeping were laudable, the higher objective was now for the international community to find new ways of removing the causes of conflicts within and among nations and to exhibit swift and honest commitment to resolve them when the occurred.

He said that this would help reduce the untold human suffering and hardship that were usually visited on the poor, the week and the vulnerable during such conflicts.

The Deputy Minister stressed the need for concerted effort by all to wage war on poverty, abuse of human rights, ethnic and religious intolerance, bad governance and the present unfair world economic order.

He noted that with the UN's peacekeeping budget now at record high and with many countries unwilling to increase their contributions, it was in the interest of all to lean towards conflict prevention that its resolution.

"Until we evolve a world order that ensures equity for all and frowns on individuals and powers that rely on tragedies of weaker nations and peoples for their strength and opulence, we would continue to experience wars and violent conflicts and peace and stability which is a prerequisite for development will continue to elude the world." He also stressed the need for Africa to avoid future conflicts by showing deeper commitment to regional integration and good governance for growth and development of its people.

Mr. Akudibilla said government would continue to support the UN's efforts at exercising its primary functions of maintaining international peace and security.