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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Ulaanbaatar (Mongolia)

26 July 2009


Remarks to the 8th Contingent of Mongolian Peacekeepers

SAN-ban-oh! (“How are you?”)

I am extremely pleased to be able to personally thank you for deploying with the United Nations.

As you know, Mongolia is playing a very important role at the Special Court for Sierra Leone.

Thanks to you, the Court can conduct its work. Mongolia's military guard force has so far prevented any incidents that could threaten Sierra Leone's security, the Court's credibility or the safety of witnesses.

This is critical. The war in Sierra Leone was extremely brutal. Tens of thousands of people were killed. Civilians were mutilated. Women suffered terrible sexual abuse. Children were forced to fight.

The Prosecutor of the Special Court recently told a story that showed just how barbaric this war was – and how important your mission is. A man testified that the rebels had chopped off his left hand in front of his four-year old son. The boy started screaming, “Don't do that to my Daddy!” So the vicious rebels brought the little child forward to chop off his hand. And the father stopped them. He said, “No! Take my right hand instead.” So they chopped off the father's right hand. The boy is now fourteen years old and he accompanied his father to provide his testimony to the Court. The father said, “He is my hands.”

This man's heart-wrenching testimony and the stories of all the other witnesses must be told in order to prosecute these merciless criminals. And the job of protecting the witnesses, who have suffered so much and have shown such courage in coming forward, falls to you.

I am especially grateful to the women peacekeepers assigned to the Force. They have shown tremendous dedication in providing communications services and serving as doctors and nurses.

At the United Nations, we appreciate all Mongolian peacekeepers for your discipline, your international perspective and your commitment to bringing peace and stability to war-torn countries, no matter what difficult conditions you may face.

We know the risks are real. The circumstances you will be working under will be dangerous. Two Mongolian peacekeepers lost their lives while serving under the United Nations flag. I pay tribute to their sacrifice.

The United Nations will do all that we can to protect you in your important mission. From my meetings with veteran peacekeepers, I know that the meaningful experience of deploying with the UN will stay with you for the rest of your lives.

Right now, demand for United Nations peacekeeping is at an all-time high. We have more than 112,000 personnel deployed around the world. To meet the growing demand, we are reviewing how we can improve our operations through what we call a “new horizon” process for peacekeeping. The aim is to be more cohesive and to forge a renewed consensus on the direction peacekeeping should take.

All this makes your work even more important.

I will be thinking of you as you carry out your operations, and I wish you great success, for the sake of the people of Sierra Leone – and for justice and peace everywhere.

Thank you.