16 March 2011 Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today expressed appreciation of Guatemala’s contribution to United Nations peacekeeping operations, but also voiced alarm at the worsening rate of crime, insecurity and human rights violations in the Central American country.
“Guatemalan troops are serving with peacekeepers in Haiti and in conflict zones such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan and Côte d’Ivoire,” said Mr. Ban at a joint news conference with President Alvaro Colom in the country’s capital, Guatemala City.
“A distinguished Guatemalan, Edmond Mulet, is my Special Representative in Haiti. I am especially pleased that a number of Guatemalan women are serving in UN peacekeeping operations.
“I value this contribution, but I know it has taken a toll. Tomorrow I will solemnly dedicate a monument to the Guatemalan UN peacekeepers who died while serving the cause of peace. The only way to truly honour their sacrifice is to carry on our work for peace, security and justice, here in Guatemala and around the world,” said the Secretary-General.
Mr. Ban told reporters that at a meeting with members of the Guatemalan cabinet, he had expressed alarm over rising crime and insecurity and that he was particularly concerned about abuses of human rights. “Ending impunity is critical to protecting all Guatemalans from violence,” he said, adding that the UN will provide additional support.
“We have to foster security for all Guatemalans and their children. I am sure the people of Guatemala agree they did not end 36 years of armed conflict only to see violence take other forms. Now it is time to end all violence,” said Mr. Ban.
The Secretary-General recalled that Guatemala is known throughout the world for its ecological diversity, its rich culture, and its proud history. “Our shared challenge today is to ensure that Guatemala also earns a reputation as a haven of justice, respect for human rights, and true security. We have serious work ahead,” he said.
He described his talks with Mr. Colom as “constructive,” saying they covered important issues of concern to both of them, including insecurity, poverty, violence against women, regional issues, and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the global commitments to reducing extreme and boosting social-economic progress by the target date of 2015.
He said that Mr. Colom and he were in full agreement on the importance of the work of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG). “I expressed the UN’s strong support for CICIG and Commissioner Francisco Dall’Anese,” Mr. Ban said.
The Secretary-General also met Nobel Peace Prize laureate Rigoberta Menchu and was due to have bilateral with several heads of State in Central America, including those of Costa Rica, Belize, El Salvador, Panama, the Dominican Republic and Honduras. He was also slated to launch the UN Peacebuilding Fund’s engagement in Guatemala.
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