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Ban Ki-moon hails peacekeeping achievements while urging more reform

Ban Ki-moon hails peacekeeping achievements while urging more reform

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has hailed the world body’s peacekeeping achievements while urging further reforms to allow operations to meet the challenges ahead.

In 2006, for the first time, the UN deployed more than 100,000 peacekeepers from a total of 115 countries – both record numbers which Mr. Ban said “speak of unprecedented confidence in, and expectations of, United Nations peacekeeping.”

In 2006, for the fourth year in a row, more than 100 peacekeepers lost their lives. Mr. Ban noted in a message for the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers, to be observed on 29 May.

“This brings home to us the risks that our colleagues in peacekeeping undertake on behalf of the international community to provide peace, security and hope to hundreds of millions of people,” he said.

He hailed the contributions being made by those staffing UN missions. “Not only do they carry out core security functions like maintaining order and removing mines; they rebuild schools and bridges in efforts that combine to raise standards of living, slowly but surely,” he said.

“Peacekeepers ensure that refugees and displaced persons can return to their homes; that ex-combatants are disarmed and reintegrated into society; that children are taken off the battlefield and sent to school; that people exercise their right to vote in democratic elections; that individuals human rights are protected, not violated, by police forces and judicial systems; and that fields and forests are demined so that they can be used to sustain life instead of trigger death.”

While voicing pride in these achievements, Mr. Ban cautioned against passivity. “We cannot rest on our laurels. We must find ways to ensure we are equipped to meet the challenges ahead,” he said, noting that he has proposed “a bold package to restructure and strengthen our capacity.”

Mr. Ban pledged for his part to keep visiting, as often as possible, the conflict-ravaged countries where the UN is deployed. At the same time, he asked that the Security Council “always give peacekeepers the mandate and tools they need to do their jobs” and that troop-contributing countries “sustain their support.”