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55 years of UNTSO


Article of MINURSO Force Commander on Peace Education of Children

Peace is an admirable concept to teach to children. But that does not mean that it is an easy one.MAJ.GEN SZARAZ

Children are not only victims of the violence of war but many are forced to take an active part in them. In some countries of the world it has come to the point where even very young boys and girls are compelled to serve in the army of the warring parties and are encouraged to kill people from their own villages. Often they are sent ahead to clear minefields. The life of these children has little value for those who use them in this way. The memory of the million of children who have been killed, and the sad faces of so many others who are suffering compel us to take every possible measure to safeguard or re-establish peace, and to bring conflicts and wars to an end.

The non-profit and non-Governmental organizations, the children foundations can play a very important role attempting to relieve these inhuman sufferings and deserve heartfelt respect. Little children learn very soon about life. They watch and imitate the behavior of adults. They rapidly learn love and respect for others, but they also quickly absorb the poison of violence and hatred. Children have a basic right to a peaceful, everyday life, free of fear and aggression.

Peace is a physical process. It must start with words, actualize itself in deeds and conclude with physical representations of what we have planted with our mouths, hands and hearts. These institutions have a duty to lead children gradually to understand the nature and demands of peace within their world and culture. Children need to learn the history of peace and not simply the history and defeat in war. Let us show them examples of peace and not just examples of violence! Fortunately many positive examples of this can be found in every culture and period of history. Everything possible should be done to help children to become messengers of peace. We have to teach them to accept various languages, cultures and religions that surround us. The sounds of other languages may be alien to us, but respect other people by not laughing at them or their words. Only by knowing them can we understand them. And when we understand them, the line between us and them begins to disappear, because we realize that we are all "us".

The young children are operating in a world where they understand only concrete examples. We can talk of our personal heroes and heroines who struggled against the masses to wage peace and if we can tell our children why they were important to us, we can impart their values to our youngsters. The stories become the grounds for discussions with adults about the difference between peace and war, getting along and fighting, cooperating and competing.

I think that only through full financial independence will non-governmental organizations be able to protect their ideological independence from governments, political and religious institutions, while securing their sustainability for the future. A future, I believe, full of energy, hope and lots of new projects to create a better and peaceful world!


Letter of Museum of Peacekeeping Operations,
Movement of Young Peacemakers and Schools of Peace to the UN Secretary-General
on Occasion of the 55-th Anniversary of UNTSO

Dear Mr. Kofi Annan,

In 2003 the Russian Federation and the world community will celebrate two important dates - the 55-th anniversary of UNTSO and 30-th Anniversary of Russian Participation in UN Peacekeeping Operations.

The first peacekeeping operation of the UN was UNTSO. It started to operate June 11, 1948 when the truce agreement between the fighting parties in the Palestine went into effect and a few officers from Belgium, USA, France and Sweden started to come to the mission area. It was the first step on a very difficult and long but a glorious road to the international peace and security.

Russia (at that time the Soviet Union) started to man UN peacekeeping operations since the end of the Arab-Israeli October war in the Middle East, when the first 36 Soviet officers arrived in Cairo (Egypt) and were enlisted into UNTSO November 25, 1973. After that the USSR and Russia continued to man peace operations of the UN sending to the field its military observers, civilian police, troops, civilian staff and volunteers.

In September 1988 the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to the peacekeeping forces of the United Nations. This event has been hailed as a renaissance of peacekeeping, the innovation technique of conflict control and resolution, which the UN has developed over the years.

We believe that the progress in development of innovation technique of conflict control reached by the end of 80s was the result of joint efforts of both military and civilian staff of peacekeeping operations as well of the staff of the UN HQ. It was provided by intensive activities in many fields.

One of such steps made in the previous years was the establishment by the Secretary-General of the UN medal to award UN peacekeepers. According to the Regulations (ST/SGB/119/Rev.1, 16 February 1966) the subjects for the UN medal award were military personnel and civilian police "who are or have been in the service of the UN". Unfortunately, the civilian staff was not mentioned in the Regulations.

By 2000 the number of the military personnel and civilian police awarded with the UN medal "In the Service of Peace" was over 750 000 persons and continued to grow.

Meanwhile in the recent years there was the growth in number of civilian staff serving for peacekeeping missions of the UN. Working as experts in human rights, elections, humanitarian matters and in other fields of activities civilian personnel and UN volunteers were always available for the UN service, often in difficult and sometimes in dangerous places risking their lives together with the military personnel.
Being on the staff list of peacekeeping missions they worked hand in hand with military observers, peacekeeping troops and civilian police doing their utmost for the success of peacekeeping missions.

Basing on these considerations the Council of veterans of the Museum of Peacekeeping Operations, Movement of young peacemakers and schools of peace call you to consider a possibility to award civilian staff and volunteers of peacekeeping operations with the UN medal "In the Service of Peace" or by a memorial badge to be established by the Secretary-General.

We believe that such an act of recognition of the role of civilian staff and UN volunteers in UN peacekeeping on the eve of the 55-th anniversary of UNTSO will become a significant contribution into strengthening international peace and security.

Citizens of Russia and other countries, who put their signatures under the letter, support this call.

To send message in support of the Letter

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