Welcome to the United Nations

Remarks at the Malaysia Peacekeeping Training Centre [as delivered]

22 Mar 2012
Ban Ki-Moon


Thank you for welcoming me here.

And what a special honour it is to be speaking to you today in the new Ban Ki-moon Auditorium in this training centre. I thank you very much!

I understand that, at many institutions, large halls such as this are often called “the multi-purpose room.”

That certainly describes my role as UN Secretary-General. And it certainly describes very well the responsibilities placed on you as United Nations peacekeepers.

Peacekeepers must be versatile, flexible, ready to deploy anywhere in the world.

You must be able to wear many hats in this job -- not just the “blue helmets” of peacekeepers. These days, you must also be peacemakers and peace-builders, helping to create trust in our UN mission and reaching out to all communities and groups. In a way, you are called upon to be diplomats, like us.

So, again, thank you for this very special honour. And from now on, you may just call me “Mr. Multipurpose!”

My motto is to have all my staff multifunctional, multi-tasking.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Seriously, it is a profound pleasure to be among you today.

I visited a similar facility in Indonesia the day before yesterday. By being here today, in Malaysia, I am sending the same clear message – when it comes to international peacekeeping, the United Nations is the world’s standard-bearer. And because that mission is so critical to the UN and the world’s people, we must ensure that our peacekeepers are trained to the absolutely highest standard.

And that is what you are doing here.

Malaysia’s contribution to our work is long and deep. As you have seen in the video report, you have contributed more than 20,000 troops to UN missions since 1960 – just three years after your independence - plus more than a thousand police. For that, we are eternally grateful.

Time and again, your men and women have deployed to societies ravaged by war … and helped people find peace.

Yet this tremendous contribution has come at a heavy price.

Twenty-eight Malaysians have given their lives in UN service, for peace and security, far from their homes and families. Today we remember their sacrifice – and we carry on their spirit to help others in need.

Malaysian personnel are now serving in some of the UN’s toughest missions – in Lebanon, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and beyond.

Let there be no mistake: this is service of the highest calling. If you want to see how much the Member States believe in peacekeeping, just look at the jobs they assign to us – the toughest missions in the world, often in the hardest places, yet in the name of the most noble cause … saving lives, and giving new hope to those who often had lost all hope.

Today, we salute you -- Malaysia’s brave troops, police and civilian personnel. And we thank you.

Let me speak a bit about what you will learn and accomplish here.

The realities of UN peacekeeping are evolving quickly … just as the geopolitical landscape in which we operate is changing.

More and more, the United Nations is called on to protect civilians from violence. Peacekeepers shield families from fighters. They operate in complex environments where conditions can change in an instant.

As I said earlier, the modern peacekeeper must wear many hats. You have to understand more than military tactics and logistics. More and more, you have to know the culture in which you operate. That means knowing the local language, understanding its ethnic or religious diversity, having a sense of its history.

You may be involved in maintaining security during elections. You might find that you can help defuse local tensions that might otherwise flare into conflict. And always – always – you must be the face of the United Nations. A human face that people can look to with trust and respect, and never fear.

Given the demands upon our peacekeepers … the ever-rising expectations placed upon them … the more training the modern peacekeeper must have to do his and her job.

Simply put, we are aiming for the highest possible performance from all of the women and men who serve. There is only one standard: the best.

This Centre will advance that goal.

Most of the Malaysian troops that are now deployed to UN operations have received training here. And this Centre has trained more than 300 international staff officers, military observers and peacekeeping instructors in many different countries.

I am convinced that this Malaysian Peacekeeping Training Centre will grow and expand, promoting excellence in peacekeeping in Asia and the world.

With that, once again I thank you. And I count on your future success – wherever our mission might take you.

Thank you.