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.
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
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.