Welcome to the United Nations

Remarks at inauguration of Centre for International Peace and Stability

13 Aug 2013
Ban Ki-Moon

Assalam Alaikum.

May ya haan aakar bahut khush hoon! [I am so happy to be here.]

It is a great honour and privilege for me on the occasion of my visit to Pakistan to participate in the inauguration ceremony for this Centre for International Peace and Stability – and it is a privilege to do so on the eve of your country’s Independence Day tomorrow.

I sense great confidence and hope here today.

But the feeling that overwhelms me is gratitude:  gratitude as the United Nations Secretary-General and gratitude as a global citizen for what Pakistan and her people have been doing for international peace and security.

More than 100 countries contribute troops and police for United Nations peacekeeping missions.  Pakistan is number one. 

It is impossible to speak about the history of United Nations peacekeeping without highlighting such contributions of Pakistan. I thank you very much.

Today, more than 8,000 of Pakistan’s finest soldiers,  men and women, serve in our complex and challenging missions  – from Darfur to Haiti to Liberia…  from the Western Sahara to the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Nearly one out of ten UN peacekeepers around the world hail from Pakistan.

And in the Ivory Coast, United Nations troops from more than 50 countries are led by Pakistani Force Commander, General Iqbal Asi. And you have five more generals working in different missions.

Pakistan has matched its leadership on the ground with leadership at United Nations Headquarters.

As President of the Security Council earlier this year, Pakistan has spearheaded an important debate on multi-dimensional peacekeeping operations.  This led to the adoption of one of the most significant and unique peacekeeping operations of the United Nations which is called the (Force) Intervention Brigade.

Pakistan’s engagement has been crucial in addressing vital peacekeeping issues across the spectrum and across time.

Your country’s long history with United Nations [peacekeeping] began more than half a century ago when the first Pakistani troops deployed in faraway Congo, Africa.

Year in and year out, Pakistan has remained one of the largest contributors.

That commitment to global peace has come at a heavy price.

We will never forget and we will forever remember the noble sacrifice of the 136 Pakistani military, police and civilian personnel who lost their lives while serving under the United Nations flag.  This includes 24 Pakistani peacekeepers who perished in Mogadishu two decades ago in the most deadly day in the history of United Nations peacekeeping.

As the Commander of UN Forces in Somalia later said, “many are alive today because of the willingness and skill of the Pakistani soldiers in [the] most difficult and dangerous combat circumstances.”

As we look forward, let us honour these fallen heroes, their country and their cause:  Pakistan and peace.

The great Pakistani poet-philosopher Allama Iqbal once wrote:  “The ultimate aim…is not to see something but to be something.”

This Centre demonstrates Pakistan’s determination to be a force for peace by drawing on its experiences, sharing its knowledge and deepening its contribution.

Training is a strategic investment in peacekeeping and here you will build the skills in preparing peacekeepers to take on a new generation of challenges.

Peacekeepers today face increasingly volatile threats.  Those bent on an ideology of destruction are better equipped and willing to use brutal forces and brutal tactics.

Small groups are better able to inflict large-scale damage.  An incident in one part of the world can pose risks for operations in another.

The United Nations is rising to these challenges – through more dynamic mandates ... integrated military and political efforts ... assistance in the reform of national rule of law institutions ... and the use of new technologies to help in better implementing our mandates and to provide better security for our troops.

Let me be clear that these new tools – such as unmanned unarmed aerial vehicles – are for information purposes only.  They are essentially flying cameras.

But armed unmanned aerial vehicles are a different matter.

As I have often and consistently said, the use of armed drones, like any other weapon, should be subject to long-standing rules of international law, including international humanitarian law.  This is the very clear position of the United Nations.  Every effort should be made to avoid mistakes and civilian casualties.

I also deeply appreciate this Centre’s focus on conflict prevention – which is also a high priority of the United Nations.

We are reinvigorating the United Nations’ use of preventive diplomacy and mediation.  We can now deploy mediation specialists within 72 hours to any part of the world wherever and whenever we have symptoms of crisis.  We have 15 field-based political and peace-building missions.

We are working to strengthen electoral assistance and support civil societies so that agreements reflect the will of the people.  And we are putting a focus on the need to include women into key positions in peace processes.

Unfortunately, there are places where efforts continue to come up short.  In Syria, international, regional and domestic deadlock has denied a negotiated solution to a tragic civil war that has already killed more than 100,000 people and generated instability across the region.

In the absence of the political solution, the United Nations is mobilizing all necessary resources through humanitarian agencies, working together with the Member States and  humanitarian civil organizations to provide necessary humanitarian assistance to those  refugees and to those internally displace people, inside and outside Syria.

I once again call on all the parties and the Security Council to act now and end the bloodshed.

I know this Centre will focus on gaining deeper understanding of the threats to peace and the sources of instability.  I applaud your efforts to establish a Department of Peace and promote peace education.  Around the world – we must do more to take on the drivers of conflict, including oppression, exclusion and inequality.

The first step is by simply recognizing that security and development should go hand in hand.  In order to achieve lasting stability, people need schools for their children … they need food on their tables … and they need to have hope in their lives.  

When there is no development peace cannot be sustainable.  When there is no peace and security you cannot engage and promote development for their people. Therefore these should go hand in hand.

This message was reinforced for the first time when I travelled together with the President of the World Bank,  Dr. Jim Young Kim, to the Democratic Republic of the Congo last May.

Yet every day around the world, resources are drained on weapons that should never be used for conflicts that should never be fought.  This must change.

Budget priorities should reflect people’s priorities: education and energy, empowerment and good jobs.  Human rights and human dignity.  Reaching out and building bridges with one’s neighbours.

We must strive to overcome short-term crises of security by putting in place the long-term foundations of peace through sustainable development.

This is the pathway to achieving the dream of your country’s great founder, Mohammad Ali Jinnah: “peace within and peace without”.

Earlier this year, many friends of Pakistan gathered at the United Nations headquarters to mark 50 years of Pakistan’s participation in peacekeeping.

We were joined by an outstanding Pakistani officer, Shazadi Gulfam, the first-ever recipient of the International Female Police Peacekeeper of the Year award.

She said something that has stayed with me long.

“Working as a peacekeeper,” she said, “made me realize that human suffering has no language, caste or creed.  It can be felt across human hearts and minds even if they do not speak the same language or share the same religion.  This experience,” she said, “helped me immensely in my national duties as well.”

What a wonderful testament to the mission of peacekeeping and the mandate of this Centre. 

They remind us that we share a common fate.  By helping others, we help ourselves.  By building peace in one corner of the world, we nurture it in another.  And by keeping the peace, we keep alive the goals and ideals of the United Nations.

Thank you for your commitment to this cause.

I look forward to an ever stronger partnership with Pakistan as we pursue our shared goals of peace, security and stability for the world’s peoples.