18 October 2004
Secretary-General, at Military Event in Dublin, Hails Irelands Enduring Commitment to United Nations Peacekeeping
NEW YORK, 15 October (UN Headquarters) -- Following are the remarks delivered today by Secretary-General Kofi Annan at an event reviewing Irish military assets of potential use in European Union operations in support of the United Nations, at McKee Barracks, Dublin, Ireland:
It is a great pleasure to be here today. I want to thank you personally for this tangible display of Irelands enduring commitment to United Nations peacekeeping.
Ireland is one of the worlds most steadfast contributors to UN peacekeeping. Thousands of Irish personnel have served over the years. Eighty-five of your nationals and compatriots have made the ultimate sacrifice. And today, nearly 500 troops and police personnel from Ireland are doing their part to promote peace in Africa, Europe and the Middle East.
Your support goes well beyond these numbers. Your involvement in standby arrangements, along with your special forces and rapid reaction capacities, are helping us to overcome critical gaps in the resources we need to implement the Security Councils mandates.
Ireland has also been one of the few industrialized States to deploy formed military units to sub-Saharan Africa, providing niche capabilities that really hold a peacekeeping operation together. We need these specialist units very, very badly.
And you have played a key role, especially during your recent presidency of the European Union, in promoting cooperation between the EU and the United Nations in crisis management, in particular the possible use of EU battlegroups to support UN peacekeeping operations.
In short, whatever and wherever the mission, the skills of Irelands troops, and your countrys credibility with the parties, have been great assets in our efforts.
Today more than ever, the world needs Ireland to uphold that tradition. For we face a surge in demand for UN peacekeeping the likes of which we have not seen since the early 1990s. This presents tremendous challenges, since the projected numbers and scope will stretch our system to the limit.
In the past year alone, new operations have been authorized in Liberia, Côte dIvoire, Haiti and Burundi. We are planning for a substantial mission in Sudan, and looking to strengthen our force in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. All told, we shall need an additional 30,000 uniformed personnel on top of 50,000 already deployed.
UN peacekeeping is strongest when the entire range of Member States participate on the ground, sending a signal of broad international commitment to the local parties - and in particular to the people suffering the most direct impact of conflict. Ireland is a leader in this regard, and I hope others will follow your example.
I am greatly encouraged by what I have seen here today. And I want to thank you again for all you are doing to make the world a safer place.
And as a fellow peacekeeper, I want to tell you how proud I am of you and the work you do. And those of you who will be heading for Liberia, I wish you all the luck. We had the chance to talk to your team down there this morning, and I get regular reports on the work you are doing, and I think you can be proud of them. And I wish you luck; youre going to follow in their footsteps and theyve set a very high standard for you in Liberia and Im sure you will meet the challenge.
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