UNMIL boss, Ms. Ellen Margrethe Løj, and Justice Minister Christiana Tah Friday paid tribute to UN peacekeepers in Liberia who made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of peace in Liberia.
The solemn ceremony was held at the Pan African Plaza Headquarters of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) and brought together senior officials of the Liberian Government, the United Nations family, members of the Diplomatic Corps, non-governmental organizations and other partners.
The Minister of Justice, who represented President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf at the occasion, recounted the contributions of UN peacekeepers in restoring peace and stability to Liberia.
“As the fear and trauma of our troubles recede, as new buildings are erected in Monrovia, Gbarnga, Voinjama and other parts of Liberia, and as new industries arrive in Monrovia, and as young children go to school for the first time, Liberia will always be mindful of the dedication of peacekeepers that brought us this far,” the Minister of Justice asserted.
Focusing on the significance of peacekeeping, Madam Tah pointed out that peacekeeping encompasses much more than having the assurance of safety, engendered by the visibility of uniformed men and women. She added that it is an increasingly expensive complex engagement, inherently multifaceted which fosters the restoration of social institutions and a renewed respect for men and women.
“It is building infrastructure and creating opportunities for our citizens; it is training our police, corrections and immigration officers and monitoring our prisons; it is promoting and protecting human rights and ensuring access to justice for all; and buttressing our establishment of a fair and impartial legal system,” she emphasized.
Minister Tah paid tribute to UN peacekeepers, who have made sacrifices in the cause of international peace and security, and said the Liberian Government recognizes the immeasurable and enduring impact these committed individuals bring to the task of sustained international peace and security.
SRSG Ellen Margrethe Løj read Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message commemorating the International Day of UN Peacekeepers under the theme: “Rule of Law: Law, Order and Peace.” Secretary-General Ban recounted tragedies experienced by UN peacekeepers. “… as we mark the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers, we pay tribute to the more than 120,000 military, police and civilians serving worldwide under the blue flag and remember those who lost their lives in the cause of peace.”
The message cited the attack on a UN compound in Afghanistan, the crash of a UN plane serving the United Nations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and other fatalities around the world where peacekeepers had lost their lives due to natural disasters, violence, accidents and disease, including more than 100 in the single, terrible blow of the January earthquake in Haiti.
The UN Envoy noted in a separate remark that the rule of law is critical for lasting peace in all societies and together with partners in Liberia, “the United Nations has been working to develop and strengthen the rule of law sector to achieve sustainable peace and durable security in Liberia.”
She added that the United Nations’ work in rule of law seeks to support the development of national human rights institutions and legal frameworks; support strong institutions of justice, governance, security and human rights that are well structured, financed, trained and equipped; transitional justice processes and mechanisms; and a public and civil society that contributes to strengthening the rule of law and holding public officials and institutions accountable.
As 2011 is an election year in Liberia, Ms. Løj encouraged Liberians to work together towards achieving the goal of a durable-sustainable peace in a conflict-free region, with respect for the Police, Corrections, Human Rights and Judicial Affairs. She appealed and urged all, especially the Liberian youth, to join in building a peaceful and brighter future for all Liberia.
Numerous programmes to observe the International Day of UN Peacekeepers including Flag-raising ceremonies and memorial services, sport activities and radio programmes were held throughout Liberia involving UN peacekeepers and Liberian civilian, military and police officers, as well as local county authorities. Liberian school children also participated in debates, painting and other competitions commemorating the International Day of UN Peacekeepers.