HOM/FORCE COMMANDER'S ADDRESS ON INTERNATIONAL DAY OF UN PEACEKEEPERS
Dear Colleagues, we are celebrating this year's International Day of UN Peacekeepers with the theme of “The road to a lasting peace: Leveraging the power of youth for peace and security,” which is attributed towards major role played by the young peacekeepers in helping the missions to implement their mandated activities. Since 2015, the United Nations, with the adoption of Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security, have been acknowledging important role youth can play in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, furthermore, it has also been recognized as a key aspect of the sustainability, inclusiveness and success of peacekeeping and peacebuilding efforts.
Looking at the efforts and contribution of our youth peacekeepers in UNDOF as well as in other Missions around the globe, it could not be denied that young women and men have played a major role in the promotion of international peace and security. I personally extend my sincerest gratitude to all youth peacekeepers for your selfless contribution marked with excellent professionalism.
Today, while some 1200 military and civilian staffs along with 75 UNTSO members serve in UNDOF, more than 89,000 uniformed and civilian women and men serve in 12 peacekeeping missions across the globe. As you are aware, peacekeepers are deployed in some of the world's most challenging and austere environments and mandated with increasingly complex and difficult tasks. Current UN peacekeeping is becoming more diverse, multidimensional and complex. As present peacekeeping operations has to deal with complex operational realities, we need a ‘fit for purpose’ approach that leverages peacekeeping partnerships and specialized capabilities while promoting the highest standards of performance in military and civilian personnel.
This applies to any UN peacekeeping missions across the globe today, and UNDOF could not be an exception. UNDOF that was established decades back in 1974, as an interstate monitoring and observing peacekeeping mission, today it is going through a complex operational reality, requiring adaptation to the ground realities without any change in the mandate and scope of the Mission. It is significant to note that UNDOF has accomplished many milestones in the last 47 years of its existence. The Mission has always been so successful because of the professionalism, courage and dedication of our predecessors. Over the last few years UNDOF has witnessed some unprecedented events, which might not have been envisaged by our predecessors who signed the 1974 Agreement. However, the challenges bring along yet another opportunity to prove that UNDOF is here to implement our mandate despite all odds and keep peace between Israel and Syria.
UNDOF has embraced and risen to the challenges that have arisen over the past years. We hope that UNDOF has emerged from its most trying period and that the consolidated plans and effective implementation would make the Mission sufficiently resilient to withstand further trials, should they arise. In all its work, the Mission continues to be guided by the cardinal peacekeeping pillars of impartiality, transparency and consent by the parties to the Agreement.
The year 2020 and the past months of 2021 have been extremely challenging for all of us due to the menace of COVID-19. In the initial days of the pandemic, not only our physical health was threatened but also our mental health got terribly disrupted. I could feel the hardship that you all have faced due to the restriction imposed in your social life being away from home and your beloved ones. I honestly acknowledge that it was because of the UNDOF’s workable plan and the system within that functioned as planned, we were able to contain two outbreaks without any personnel suffering from extreme health condition. In our drive to fully vaccinate more than 95 per cent of UNDOF personnel by July 2021, the vaccination program within the Mission has already commenced. This indicate that the second half of the year would gradually open without much health safety restrictions, nonetheless, I urge you all to continue with every possible precaution against COVID-19 while carrying out your duty.
As we are celebrating the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers, I would like to put on record my sincerest appreciation to the Contingents of Bhutan, Czech Republic, Fiji, Ghana, India, Ireland, Nepal, the Netherlands and Uruguay for their contributions and the commitment strongly undertaken with the deployment of military personnel in UNDOF. Let me proudly remark that the Contingents have always become a great source of strength for the UNDOF team. You all have been competent representatives and excellent ambassadors of your country. I am extremely delighted for having dedicated and professional soldiers of your capacity. I hereby stand to commend you all for the outstanding contributions you all have made towards implementing the Mission’s mandate.
I am also thankful to the Member States that have contributed military observers to the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization. I would like to applaud the legacy that Military Observers of Observer Group Golan has set for their peacekeeping endeavours within UNDOF’s Area of Responsibility. You are an invaluable resource to me as the Force Commander of UNDOF and always acted as our eyes and ears. You all have continually served with generous resilience and unwavering determination. I highly appreciate your dedication and commitment towards achieving UNDOF’s mandate.
To all members of UNDOF, past and present, military and civilian, you are the force that has kept UNDOF and UN effective, successful, and relevant. It is your effort and accomplishments at every level that ensures UNDOF to be dependable, trustworthy and effective force in maintaining peace on the Golan. At this very moment, I would like to remember 62 fallen peacekeepers and most recently, Late WO I Amenisitai Vatoga of Fijian Mechanized Company, who laid down their lives for this revered cause and pay them my deepest and most respectful homage. We should feel endlessly proud of all those brave men and women as they gave up their lives for the quest of peace in Golan.
As I approach nearer towards the end of my speech, I would like to remind you all that the need of hour is to remember UNDOF’s motto “One Mission - One Team - One Goal”. To be successful, we must all be in the same page and working towards the same objectives. Remember, today we are challenged to keep the unprecedented records of success of UNDOF in keeping peace on Golan as a monitoring and observing mission – kept and maintained by our predecessors for 47 long years.
Finally, I take this opportunity to appreciate the mission leadership and all concerned for your tremendous effort in pushing the Mission to a successful point, as it stands today. I also wish to commend the relentless efforts of each and every military and civilian individual of UNDOF, and Observer Group Golan, who have performed the important tasks assigned to them with efficiency and devotion under challenging circumstances. Similarly, I also extend my sincere appreciation to both the parties to the Agreement for their strong commitment in upholding the Agreement on Disengagement of Forces.
Once again, Happy International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers – 2021. May peace and tranquility prevail in Golan.