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Editorial: 40 Years Of Peacekeeping A Proud Legacy

As we reflect on 40 years of peacekeeping duties with the United Nations, we can be proud of how far we have come as a nation. Not only in our
09 Jun 2018 15:30
Editorial: 40 Years Of Peacekeeping A Proud Legacy

As we reflect on 40 years of peacekeeping duties with the United Nations, we can be proud of how far we have come as a nation.

Not only in our contribution towards world peace, but more so the personal and socio-economic development of our men and women who have served in countries around the world.

Since June 10, 1978, under the United Nations Interim Force In Lebanon (UNIFIL), Fiji sent its first troops for peacekeeping operation. Thanks to the foresight and vision of the then Prime Minister, the late Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, our peacekeeping operations today is an integral part of our Foreign Policy stance.

Its impact is not only felt in the countries where our defence personnel served, but also right here at home – in their villages, communities and families.

For those who’ve lost their loved ones serving under the blue helmet, the 40 years commemoration will be a painful one.

Nonetheless, it’s a time to reflect on their sacrifice and commitment towards global peace. Our contribution to more than 20 UN missions since 1978 speaks volumes of our global commitment. To date, Fijian defence personnel are part of six ongoing UN missions.

These include men and women of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces, Fiji Police Force and the Fiji Corrections Service. Their sacrifice has played a big part in leveraging Fiji’s position in terms of international affairs and strategic partnerships. This includes technical and development co-operation with Fiji’s defence forces.

Within the different forces, the role of women in peacekeeping deployments became a priority as the UN highlighted the need to have more women serve on missions.

This too we have witnessed over the past 40 years. An achievement worth celebrating given that the first female recruitment within the RFMF took place 10 years after the first UN peacekeepers were posted in Lebanon.

Women soldiers only became part of peacekeeping operations in 1995 under the Multinational Force and Observers banner.

It was not until 2000 when two of our women were selected to serve under UNIFIL. When compared with other bigger contributing countries like Sri Lanka, Indonesia and India – our women have certainly paved the way for women in leadership positions in UN peacekeeping operations.

Case in point is the recent announcement of United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) Police Commissioner, Unaisi Bolatolu-Vuniwaqa.

She becomes the first female Police Commissioner to serve with the UN Mission in South Sudan.

The week-long commemoration with the theme, Fiji’s Sacrifice for Global Peace begins tomorrow with church services at all centres around the country (Suva, Lautoka and Labasa).

There will be a display at the National War Memorial on Thursday, June 14 and Friday, June 15, 2018. The display includes photographs of soldiers in mission areas together with other troop-contributing countries.

The RFMF will set up mock checkpoints similar to the ones in Lebanon and the public are encouraged to go through the checkpoints and have a feel of how checkpoints are manned and the process of checking of vehicles in operation areas

Next Friday a symposium will focus on the three Dimensions of Peacekeeping which including:

ν Diplomacy (Peace Enforcement)

ν Development (Humanitarian Assistance

ν Defence (Peace Building and Peacekeeping)

A ceremonial parade at Albert Park next Saturday will round up the commemoration.

To all our peacekeepers, we salute you and thank you!

ROSI DOVIVERATA

Feedback:  rosi.doviverata@fijisun.com.fj

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