Kathmandu, May 28

UN Secretary General António Guterres has said that for nearly 70 years, UN peacekeeping had proven to be one of the international community’s most effective investments in peace, security and prosperity.

Issuing a message on the occasion of UN Peacekeepers Day, the UN Secretary General stated that demand for UN peacekeepers had risen steadily over the years and deployment was now near an all-time high.

“Peacekeeping has had a positive impact on the lives of millions of people around the world,” Guterres said, “All UN missions have the same goals: to save lives, protect people, to set the stage for peace, and then close.  They are intended to be short-term investments that provide long-term dividends by creating the time and space for political processes to unfold.”

To date, 54 UN peace operations have completed their mandates which include successful operations in Angola, Cambodia, Croatia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Namibia, Sierra Leone, Timor-Leste and elsewhere.

“Today’s peacekeeping budget — less than one half of one per cent of global military spending — is money well spent. It is a fraction of the cost of allowing conflict to spread and erode the gains of economic development,” the UN Secretary General stated in his message, “The investment is multiplied by the economic growth and prosperity that follow from stability and security after successful peacekeeping missions.”

He stated that the UN was aiming to do more to end operations that had achieved their goals. “We are also reforming and adapting our peacekeeping missions to improve their effectiveness in the increasingly challenging environments in which they work,” Guterres said.

He said the UN was working hard to make all its peacekeeping operations cost-effective from start to finish. “We are constantly finding ways to reform, restructure and drive costs down,” Guterres said, “At the same time, UN peacekeepers are relentless in searching for new ways to build sustainable peace.”

Guterres further said he had made ending the scourge of sexual exploitation and abuse committed by UN personnel one of his top priorities. “We are by no means perfect. But when we make mistakes, we learn from them, striving continuously to deploy our personnel and assets in a way that is not just responsible, but beneficial to the people and communities we serve,” Guterres added.

He said UN member states close cooperation was vital if the UN was to deliver on the promise of lasting peace, while peacekeepers create conditions on ground to enable solutions to emerge and take root.  “I have also prioritised ensuring that women play a far more active role in peace operations, as troops, police and civilian staff,” he said.