28 January 2004
Secretary General Praises Ghana's "Steadfast", 40-Year Commitment to UN Peacekeeping, in Message to Inauguration of Accra Centre
NEW YORK, 27 January (UN Headquarters) -- Following is Secretary-General Kofi Annan's message for the inauguration of the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Centre, delivered by Alfred Fawundu, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Ghana, in Accra, 24 January:
Ghana's steadfast commitment to United Nations peacekeeping goes back more than 40 years, when Ghana became one of the first countries to answer the call of the United Nations for troops to be dispatched to the Congo, just 48 hours after the Security Council passed its resolution establishing the United Nations mission there. The story of Ghanaian peacekeeping went on to yield remarkable examples of what I believe is, in any peacekeeper, the most successful combination of qualities: loyalty matched by initiative; courage coupled with humility. Through participation in United Nations operations, 98 Ghanaian personnel have made the ultimate sacrifice and given their lives in the service of peace. Ghanaians have served in 29 United Nations peacekeeping missions around the world -- in Asia, in Europe, in the Middle East, in Africa -- and participated in the Economic Community of West African States' Monitoring Observer Group (ECOMOG) in Liberia and Sierra Leone. Several Ghanaian generals have led military contingents in United Nations operations, serving with exceptional bravery, skill and professionalism.
Ghanaian men and women have not only made a vital contribution to peacekeeping as such; they can also inspire others to participate. Today, such leadership is more important than ever. Over the past few years, United Nations peacekeeping has undergone a dramatic surge in activity. Six major peacekeeping operations are now under way in Africa alone, and several more are in the planning stages. Overall, the United Nations is increasingly discharging wide-ranging, complex and often unprecedented tasks.
Whatever the challenges so far, however, we will be called upon to do even more in the future -- not least in Africa. The United Nations has all the more reason, therefore, to be grateful to the Government and Armed Forces of Ghana for their foresight in establishing this International Peacekeeping Training Centre. The Centre provides an important forum for sharing the expertise Ghana has gathered in the course of more than four decades, while drawing from the vast experience of other States. The United Nations attaches great importance to the contribution such centres of excellence make to the efforts of the international community, the African Union and subregional organizations such as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in enhancing African peacekeeping capacity. I am deeply honoured and moved that you have named the Centre after me.
At a time of growing demands on the United Nations' role, the international community needs to demonstrate sustained and practical commitment to the cause of peacekeeping. The support provided for this Centre by Canada, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and others is both testimony to such commitment, and recognition of the challenges ahead. I thank all those whose contributions have made possible today's inauguration, and pay tribute to President Kufuor and Chancellor Schröder for their engagement. I wish the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Centre every success in its mission, and assure you of the continued cooperation of the United Nations in the work ahead.
* *** *