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At the press conference (L-R) are Ghana's Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, the Under-Secretary-General for Operational Support, Atul Khare, the Under-Secretary-General for Management Strategy, Policy and Compliance, Catherine Pollard, and the Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix. Photos by John Oko Nyaku

Ghana hosts first United Nations Peacekeeping Ministerial Meeting in Africa

 

 

(L-R) Ghana’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey and the Under-Secretary-General for Operational Support, Atul Khare at the press conference
Some of those at the press conference

The first United Nations (UN) Peacekeeping Ministerial meeting to be held in Africa will take place in Accra, capital of Ghana on December 5 and 6, 2023.

Announcing the historic event recently at a press conference, Ghana’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, together with senior United Nations officials, said “this flagship biennial meeting will help secure much-needed political support and generate pledges to strengthen UN Peacekeeping, in line with Action for Peacekeeping and A4P+, the implementation strategy for 2021-2023.”

The meeting, according to a statement by the Media Office of the Department of Peace Operations, will be the fifth and, like others before it, will “focus on securing concrete commitments from Member States to fill critical gaps, leverage new technologies, and address key priorities to improve the operational effectiveness of peacekeeping missions.”

The statement said further that “with missions navigating unprecedented challenges and threats, this year’s event will focus on critical issues such as the protection of civilians, strategic communications and addressing misinformation and disinformation, safety and security, mental health of uniformed peacekeepers, and the pivotal role of women in peacekeeping.”

Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey said that: ” As a long-standing Troop and Police Contributing Country to UN Peacekeeping since the 1960s, Ghana acknowledges the long and positive track record of peacekeeping in Africa and believes that UN Peacekeeping has a future and remains indispensable and invaluable in advancing peace in conflict settings globally. It is therefore pertinent that the world remains resolute in our commitment to guarding jealously this multilateral tool and fully support the Secretary-General’s initiatives such as the Action for Peacekeeping and A4P+ which are essential to improving the effectiveness of modern-day peacekeeping and tackling the security challenges of our time.”

Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix said: “UN peacekeeping is a global partnership with peacekeepers from over 120 countries deployed in some of the most challenging places in the world to help save lives, prevent conflict, and create conditions for lasting peace.”

He also noted that the 2023 Ministerial meeting “is an important opportunity for leaders to reaffirm their commitment and make pledges to UN peacekeeping, which remains one of the most significant multilateral tools to achieve sustainable peace and development.” He thanked Ghana for hosting the meeting and “for their critical contributions to strengthening our operations.”

Member States were also encouraged to create or strengthen bilateral and triangular support and partnerships to ensure that proposed improvements are sustainable and have the required impact.

Atul Khare, Under-Secretary-General for Operational Support, highlighting the significance of the Ministerial meeting taking place in Africa and the importance of partnerships, said: “Ghana and Africa’s contributions to peacekeeping are advancing beyond troop contributions to offering a vital forum in which countries can unite and collaborate on innovative strategies to address current challenges and discuss the future of peacekeeping. I look forward to the formation of partnerships amongst participants to enhance the effectiveness of our peacekeepers, elevate the quality of their medical care, and foster environmentally responsible operations.”

Catherine Pollard, Under-Secretary-General for Management Strategy, Policy and Compliance said: ” In addition to the myriad challenges currently before us, United Nations peace operations are also at a critical juncture in preventing and addressing misconduct as a central element of performance.” She stressed that “this is a collective endeavour.”

The statement pointed out that the Accra meeting will be the latest in a series of high-level events that have enabled world leaders to pledge resources to help missions fully implement their mandates.

It said that “beyond garnering political support for the work of UN Peacekeeping, generous contributions by Member States at similar meetings in New York, London, Vancouver and Seoul have helped generate rapidly-deployable military units, key aviation assets, better medical capacities, and helped advance the Women, Peace, and Security Agenda.”

A series of preparatory meetings on key areas identified by UN Member States have, in the lead-up to this year’s Ministerial, set the stage for discussions in Accra.

These include Preparatory Conference on Women in Peacekeeping Operations, co-hosted by Bangladesh, Canada, and Uruguay, mental health support for uniformed personnel, co-hosted by Ghana, the Republic of Korea, and the United Nations, and safety and security, co-hosted by Japan and Pakistan. A meeting on Protection of Civilians and Strategic Communications was scheduled for this October, to take place in Kigali, co-hosted by Indonesia, the Netherlands, Rwanda, and the United Kingdom.

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