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Jamaica is pleased once again to join the international community in commemorating International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers, under the theme: “Investing in Peace around the World”. Today, we celebrate the courageous men and women who have served in peacekeeping missions and who continue to risk their lives in the pursuit of international peace and security. Their bravery and commitment to the promotion and preservation of peace serve as a beacon of hope as the world witnesses an increase in areas plagued with conflict and violence.

Since the first UN peacekeeping mission was established in 1948, the mandate of peacekeepers has evolved from simply monitoring ceasefires or supporting free and fair elections, to more challenging activities such as disarming ex-combatants and protecting human rights. Despite the increased demand, peacekeepers across the sixteen (16) missions currently in place continue to demonstrate a high level of dedication and courage.

I commend the commitment of the international community to invest in peace as reflected in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, particularly in Goal 16, which calls for the promotion of peace, access to justice and building strong institutions. As the world experiences growing instability, the need to invest in peace has never been more urgent. In this context, the efforts of peacekeepers serve as a reminder of our collective responsibility to build a world that is free from war and conflict.

Jamaica is proud to have contributed over the years, to the promotion of peace in countries across the globe, through the participation of Jamaican nationals in peacekeeping missions. During the 1980s, we first deployed twenty three (23) officers to the peacekeeping mission in Namibia to assist in the monitoring of the peace process and elections. Since then, Jamaica has continued to produce dedicated peacekeepers who have made sterling contributions to operations in various countries, from Liberia and Sudan in Africa to Timor Leste in Asia and our sister country, Haiti.

Jamaica also remains committed to participating in meaningful dialogue on the initiatives aimed at strengthening the United Nations’ capacity to discharge its peacekeeping mandate and to generate sustainable policy solutions to current and future obstacles to peace. I implore peacekeepers to continue to be a source of inspiration and a positive force, making a tangible difference in the lives of millions across the globe. Your Blue Helmets undoubtedly serve to reassure many civilians who live in constant fear or who are in need of humanitarian assistance.

As we observe International Day of UN Peacekeepers, I also encourage my fellow Jamaicans to consider the role we have to play individually and collectively in creating peaceful communities. Let us all make a conscious decision to invest in peace in our homes and communities, in our quest to create a society that is free from the scourge of crime and violence, for current and future generations.