Jamaica joined the rest of the world in celebrating the efforts of United Nations’ peacekeepers who have lost their lives working to maintain global peace and security, on Thursday (June 17).
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Coordinator, Mr. Mihn Pham, said Jamaican peacekeepers have done tremendous work over the last 20 years, contributing to a number of peacekeeping missions across the globe.
He was speaking at the First Official Commemorative Ceremony and Exhibition of International Day of United Nations (UN) Peacekeepers at the Hilton Hotel, in New Kingston.
“Currently, around the world, more than 124,000 men and women from 115 countries serve as peacekeepers in 15 missions. Of the total number of volunteers, Jamaica currently accounts for 20, spread across three missions – Sudan (Africa), Timor-Leste (Asia) and Haiti,” Mr. Pham said.
Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Hon. Malahoo Forte greets United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Co-ordinator, Mihn Pham, prior to the start of the First Official Commemorative Ceremony and Exhibition of International Day of United Nations (UN) Peacekeepers at the Hilton Hotel, in New Kingston, today (June 17). In the background is Deputy Commissioner of Police, Charles Scarlett.
The UNDP representative said the remarkable efforts of these individuals follow that of the over 60 peacekeepers from Jamaica who, since 1989, have contributed substantially to world peace, and expressed sincere gratitude on behalf of UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon.
He said the UN Day of Peacekeepers is celebrated in honour of the men and women who have lost their lives while serving under the flag of the UN, and also serves as a symbol of the commitment of those who remain dedicated to the multilateral effort to maintain world peace and security.
“We commend them for the contributions, notwithstanding the difficult circumstances under which many served. We pay particular tribute to those who have made the supreme sacrifice in the cause of peace,” he said.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Ambassador Evadney Coy, said the peacekeeping celebrations could not have come at a more opportune time, particularly when one takes into account Jamaica’s current situation.
Students of the St. Peter Claver Primary School performing at the First Official Commemorative Ceremony and Exhibition of International Day of United Nations (UN) Peacekeepers, at the Hilton Hotel, in New Kingston, today (June 17).
“Many persons may wonder how it is that Jamaican police officers could be involved in assisting the UN in its peace operations in other parts of the world, when we here are faced with an unprecedented, unacceptable level of crime in our country,” she remarked.
Ambassador Coy said what many must recognise is that despite Jamaica’s crime problems, the situation is much more catastrophic in other parts of the world.
“Many countries around the world are experiencing deep rooted and long standing ethnic conflicts and violent situations which threaten peace and security in their own regions, as well as internationally,” she stated.
She said that, where these situations exist, it is incumbent on all member states of the UN, where possible, to be part of an international team to work with such countries and the rival parties towards resolving these conflicts.
Members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) have participated in peacekeeping missions across the globe, including El Salvador, Liberia, Lebanon, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Namibia. They have been engaged in tasks such as promoting reconciliation, strengthening the security sector and the rule of law and supporting democratic elections.
Ambassador Coy said the JCF must be commended for taking up the mantle, and enabling Jamaica to make its contribution to the promotion and maintenance of international peace and security.
Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Hon. Marlene Malahoo Forte, also commended the Jamaican peacekeepers, on behalf of the Jamaican Government.
She explained that Jamaica’s participation in UN peacekeeping missions began in the 1980s with 23 JCF officers deployed to Namibia. Since then, Jamaica has increased its presence to having its nationals serve under the UN flag in some of the most difficult and inhospitable areas of the earth.
“You have faced instability, diseases and violence on a daily basis, you have operated in high threat environments, where ceasefires or peace processes are fragile and, in most cases, state authority is weak or non-existent,” she noted.
Senator Malahoo Forte also commended the women of the JCF whom, she said, have increasingly conducted themselves as role models in different local environments inspiring women in male-dominated societies.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade in collaboration with the JCF hosted Jamaica’s first official ceremony to commemorate the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers. The Day is celebrated annually on May 29, but had to be rescheduled due to the violence in West Kingston.
The Jamaican peacekeepers were also presented with certificates recognising their invaluable contribution to various UN peacekeeping missions.