HOM/COS MG Kristin Lund’s speech on peace Keepers day 29th of May 2018 at Government House, Jerusalem
You’re Excellences, Admirals, Generals, Distinguished guests, Fellow Peacekeepers, Colleges, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you for taking time to attend the commemoration of this very significant occasion. To day is dedicated to all UN Peace keepers all over the world. 70 years is indeed an impressive milestone, and UN peacekeeping is one of the most effective tools to respond to some of today’s most difficult global peace and security challenges. UNTSO remains the longest standing and the first peacekeeping mission, meaning that today, our commemoration is two-fold.
United Nation Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expresses his gratitude to the more than one million men and women who have served under the UN flag, saving countless lives. He also pays tribute to the 14 missions and nearly 90 000 peacekeepers working around the clock today to protect people and advance the cause of peace. He is committed to taking action for peacekeeping — action to make UN operations safer and more effective in today’s challenging environments. He reminds the important role UN forces must play in promoting human rights and addressing sexual exploitation and abuse.
May 29th marks the 70th anniversary of UN Peacekeeping. On that date in 1948, the UN Security Council established the first UN peacekeeping operation – the UN Truce Supervision Organization, under resolution 50. This truce was to be supervised by a UN mediator and assisted by a group of military observers, whose responsibility was to monitor the armistice agreements between Israel and her Arab neighbors. Peacekeeping is about supporting political solutions. It cannot substitute for the political will of the parties to end conflicts and protect their people.
The function of these military observers has changed over the years as a result of the wars of 1956, 1967, 1973 and 2006, however their presence has always been maintained throughout these periods of difficulty. Today, UNTSO military observers assist the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force in the occupied Golan and the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon. In addition, UNTSO maintains liaison offices in Egypt, Lebanon and Syria as well as a liaison office for Israel and Jordan.
The most important aspect of the UNTSO mission remains its people. Today, 153 military observers from 24 countries serve in UNTSO, supported by 253 civilian staff from 58 countries. The hard work undertaken by those in UNTSO cannot be overstated. The contribution to UN peacekeeping and representation of one’s country at an international level is an achievement we should all be proud of. More women in peacekeeping means more effective peacekeeping, and the UN needs definitely more female peacekeepers.
Regretfully, in fulfilling our mission, there have been casualties. In acknowledging those who have lost their lives in this mission, we are also reminded that Peacekeepers serve at great personal risk and under harsh conditions. More than 3,700 have paid with their lives, and the last 12 months has been one of the most deadly for UN peacekeepers. We must always honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice so that others may live in a more peaceful world.
Our mandate today remains as relevant as in 1948. Moving forward with our UNDOF and UNIFIL counterparts UNTSO will continue to strive towards the achievement of peace in the Middle East. United Nations peacekeeping is a proven investment in global peace, security and prosperity. And UN peacekeeping is cost-effective.
I must acknowledge those who’s tireless work and long hours has made this day possible. To the 70th anniversary committee, especially Judy, Jalene, Rana and Donal; to our UNIFIL and UNDOF colleagues for their continuous support every day, and to those who have worked behind the scenes to ensure a successful event – thank you. To our Troop Contributing Countries; our work cannot be done without you. The professionalism and high standard of the military officers you provide to us allows peacekeeping to happen. For your continued support, I thank you. To all of the host nations, thank you for your support! Finally, I would like to extend my thanks to all of you for attending this significant occasion. Congratulations to all Peacekeepers