Peacekeepers must live above reproach

BY: Daily Graphic

The importance of peace to the advancement of societies and the world at large cannot be overemphasised. There has never been progress in societies where violence and lawlessness are a part of their existence.

The idea that peace is important is exemplified by the large number of organisations that strive for peace across the world.

It was this progressive nature and idea of peace that gave birth to the United Nations (UN) Peacekeeping in 1948 when the Security Council authorised the deployment of UN military observers to the Middle East to monitor the Armistice Agreement between Israel and its Arab neighbours. Since then, the UN has deployed hundreds of thousands of peacekeepers in over 120 countries.

The peacekeepers, through their deployment, have succeeded in maintaining ceasefires in conflict areas around the world. These ceasefires have helped the peacekeepers to stabilise situations on the ground, while they provide crucial support to resolve conflict by peaceful means.
But for the deployment of UN peacekeeping operations, it would be difficult to predict how the world would be if justice had been left entirely in the hands of people and countries with might to determine.

From Congo in 1960 through The Dominican Republic in 1965, Cambodia in 1991, Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1995 to Syria in 2012, among many other operations, UN peacekeeping missions have brought relief to millions of people who were without hope, under starvation and in danger from the outcomes of conflicts and wars.

Certainly, it takes great sacrifice, selflessness and tender heartedness to want to go to conflict and war-ravaged lands to ensure that others have peace. The Bible rightly puts it thus: “There is no love than this: for one to lay down his life for others.” (John 15:13) It firms this statement up with the Beatitude: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)

On the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers, the Daily Graphic commends all those, both living and the dead, whose efforts and contributions have ensured a better and peaceful world. We also salute Ghanaian men and women from the civilian society, the military and the police for their exemplary leadership and professionalism that have earned the country a lot of respect and recognition among the comity of nations.

However, we think misconduct by some peacekeepers the world over during their deployment has brought the integrity of peacekeeping operations into question. This misconduct, such as misusing one’s position to exploit the vulnerable, such as rape, defilement and maltreatment of detained suspects, should no longer be heard among peacekeepers. It is a blot on the conscience of the world for the one who is assigned to ensure the peace and safety of the world to rather become the tyrant.

On this note, we urge especially Ghanaian peacekeepers to be good ambassadors of the state on such assignments. We  add our voice to the government’s admonishment to Ghanaian peacekeepers that any peacekeeper who will misconduct himself or herself will be punished.

We entreat our peacekeepers to heed this advice, as the memories of their sacrifices, which sometimes end them in serious and permanent injury and even death, can never be exchanged for vain things such as sexual misconduct.