Remarks by UN envoy Karin Landgren on International Day of UN Peacekeepers
International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers
Karin Landgren, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and
Coordinator of United Nations Operations in Liberia
29 May 2015
Your Excellency Joseph Nyumah Boakai, VicePresident of the Republic of Liberia,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a privilege to commemorate with you, and with colleagues and partners around the world, this International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers. Today we honour all women and men who have served as military, police and civilian peacekeepers.
In particular, we remember those who lost their lives in the service of peace. In the past year, 16 personnel from UNMIL have made that ultimate sacrifice. On behalf of the Secretary-General and the United Nations peacekeeping family, I convey my heartfelt condolences to their families and loved ones. We remember each of our fallen colleagues with pride and gratitude for their commitment to make peace a reality for the people we serve.
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
The global theme for the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers this year is UN70 and UN Peacekeeping: Past, present and future. This theme is particularly appropriate in Liberia this year as the Government, with UNMIL’s support, proceeds with the transition of all security tasks from UNMIL to the Liberian security sector, as mandated by the UN Security Council.
This transition gives us an opportunity to reflect on the 12 years of peace since the civil conflict ended and UNMIL deployed in October 2003. One sign of how far Liberia has come since then is that we recognize today not only international peacekeepers’ contributions to Liberia but also Liberia’s contributions to global peacekeeping. Liberian troops have served with honour in the United Nations Mission in Mali since 2013.
The greatest threat to Liberia’s peace and security since the end of the conflict came last year with the Ebola epidemic. Her Excellency the President said earlier this month that the security forces responded when called upon during the most difficult days of the Ebola crisis. UNMIL peacekeepers also responded, and I commend them for their contributions to the fight against Ebola. Two UNMIL personnel that we count among our fallen colleagues died after contracting Ebola. So did members of Liberia’s security forces. We remember them, as we remember over 4,700 others who lost their lives to Ebola in Liberia.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As we reflect today on the peace Liberia enjoys, let us recognize the confidence the UN Security Council vested in Liberia in setting the deadline of 30 June 2016 for the country to assume full responsibility for all aspects of national security. Unlike the unannounced arrival of Ebola, the coming security transition has had a long lead time. Unlike the havoc ushered in by Ebola, security transition is a coordinated process with clear timelines and benchmarks. Once the transition is completed, Liberia will surely take pride in assuming full responsibility for its own security.
The Security Transition Plan is ambitious, and rightly so, for much needs to be done to achieve a coordinated, accountable, and democratic security sector in Liberia. The comprehensive three-year plan is linked to historic reforms in de-concentration. County Security Councils, for example, are a valuable forum to bring together the security forces and communities they serve. Building confidence in this way is as important as increasing the number of police officers deployed to the counties. Implementation will not be without challenges. It will be achieved with sustained political will, leadership and commitment across all sectors of Government. Only with security can Liberia's economic growth continue to make progress. Only with the rule of law can trust be built between the public and government institutions.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Fellow Peacekeepers,
This will be my final Peacekeepers’ Day parade as Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Liberia. As I prepare to leave Liberia in July, I take this opportunity to commend all Liberians for their commitment to keep this country at peace. I also commend my UN colleagues. I am proud to have served here with our military, police and civilian peacekeepers, who, I am often reminded, have had such a profound and positive impact on this country.
We will now hear the Secretary-General’s message for the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers.