26 May 2004
year, the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers was inaugurated to
commemorate more than half a century of dedication and sacrifice by peacekeepers
serving under the UNís blue flag around the world to build confidence,
reconcile warring parties and relieve suffering.
Alas, the past 12 months have given us many more such sacrifices to
one of these sacrifices commands our deep respect. They should also inspire us.
We must continue to strive, as those brave peacekeepers did, to make it possible
for the community of nations to live in peace.
more than 53,000 uniformed personnel and at least 11,000 civilian staff from 94
countries serve in 15 missions across the globe. Those numbers are likely to
Security Council has just approved an operation for Burundi, and another is
being planned for Sudan.
growth in missions is a welcome sign that many countries are choosing a
healthier path as they emerge from violent conflicts. But it places enormous
strain on our existing resources. I urge Member States to provide the additional
peacekeepers that will be needed, and the resources to go with them.
has long since evolved beyond its traditional role as a monitor of ceasefires.
Today, UN missions engage in such tasks as assisting political transitions,
building institutions, fostering the spread of the rule of law, supporting
economic reconstruction, supervising elections, disarming militias and former
combatants, facilitating humanitarian aid programmes and re-settling refugees
and displaced persons.
Liberia and Sierra Leone, peacekeepers are disarming, demobilizing and
reintegrating former combatants from two brutal civil wars. In East Timor, they
are helping a fledgling nation take its first steps and build national
institutions. In Western Sahara, they have helped organize the first contacts
between some refugees and their families in nearly 30 years.
missions can never end wars by themselves. But they do offer the best possible
way of ensuring there is a sustainable peace. On the International Day for UN
Peacekeepers, let us remember that the most expensive peacekeeping operation
costs far less than the cheapest war. That is an investment well worth