On United Nations Day, top UNIFIL official urges political and diplomatic solutions
Today, UNIFIL marked United Nations Day at its headquarters in Naqoura, south Lebanon celebrating the date in 1945 when the United Nations Charter came into force. The peacekeeping mission marked the today, 25 October as the 24th fell on a Sunday this year.
Speaking at a ceremony attended by peacekeepers, United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon Joanna Wronecka, UN officials, representatives from the Lebanese Armed Forces, and local dignitaries, UNIFIL’s Head of Mission and Force Commander, Major General Stefano Del Col, noted that south Lebanon has enjoyed fifteen years of relative stability. This, he said, was thanks to the dedication of peacekeepers and the commitment of the parties.
“Still, events in recent months remind us that that we cannot take that stability for granted,” said Major General Del Col. “We must renew and reaffirm our commitment to the goals and purposes of the United Nations Charter – but especially that first purpose, to maintain international peace and security,
He stressed the importance of peacekeeping for creating a space in which political and diplomatic solutions can take root, while working independently and impartially.
“We have to redouble our efforts to create space for a political and diplomatic solution, and a permanent ceasefire between Lebanon and Israel,” he said. “In the meantime, and as a step in that direction, we should firm up the Blue Line arrangement as the essential deconfliction tool.”
He further urged both parties, the Lebanese Armed Forces and the Israel Defense Forces, to set aside differences and engage on issues related to the Blue Line, in furtherance of peace and stability.
“For over a decade now, the iconic blue barrels have helped avoid incidents that could become flashpoints for misunderstanding and conflict,” said the UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander. “By setting aside differences to engage constructively on resolving contentions, marking the remaining parts of the Blue Line and avoiding unilateral action, we can avoid this risk. On United Nations Day, I urge the parties to consider this.”
Major General Del Col also thanked military and civilian peacekeepers for their contribution to maintaining international peace and security, the first of the four purposes set out in the United Nations Charter. He acknowledged the sacrifices that peacekeepers make, and specifically honoured a Ghanaian peacekeeper who recently passed away while serving, and a Cambodian peacekeeper who suffered serious injuries while helping to clear land mines from Lebanese soil.
During the ceremony, Major General Del Col and Lebanese Armed Forces South Litani Sector Commander, Brigadier General Maroun Kobayati, laid wreaths in tribute to fallen peacekeeper.
Speech of UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander Major General Stefano Del Col