Questions answered by Daljeet Bagga, UNIFIL, Lebanon
Somos alumnos del CENTRO EDUCATIVO INTEGRAL (Quito-Ecuador). Somos
ciudadanos pacifistas pasivos, y lo que queremos es encontrar una via para
poder ser pacifistas activos, es por esto que requerimos de su informacion.
Estas son nuestras preguntas:
A. De que manera podriamos ser pacifistas activos?
B. Somos adolescentes: Como podríamos aportar, teniendo en
cuenta que no tenemos ninguna profesión todavía?
C. Si llegamos a ser miembros de esta organizacion, como esto
afectara y modificara nuestra vida normal?
AA. Todas las personas en el mundo entero pueden convertirse en "pacificadoras" si todos aprendemos a tomar el camino de la paz. Desafortunadamente
no es lo que ocurre hoy en día. Muchas naciones del mundo
estan practicamente destrozadas debido a sectarismo, causas religiosas,
intolerancia o otras diferencias fundamentales. Ustedes, la nuñez
y juventud del mundo estan llamados a sembrar la semilla de la paz ahora,
a fin de que el mundo tenga paz mañ`ana.
B. No es necesario ser un profesional para contribuir a la paz.
La participación de la juventud, aunque ahora ustedes la perciban
como mínima, es muy relevante. Piensen en la paz y hallarán
la paz. Nosotros, los "soldados de la paz" trabajamos en sitios peligrosos
y difíciles, sabemos que no es una tarea fácil mantener la
paz especialmente cuando las dos o aún, las tres partes involucradas
se bombardean entre si. Igualmente, ustedes jóvenes, los líderes
del mañana, deben contribuir practicando y promoviendo el diálogo
acerca de la paz y la reconciliacion en su propio entorno.
C. Existen 185 naciones miembros de la Organización de Naciones
Unidas. De alguna manera, todos los ciudadanos de estos países
somos miembros de la ONU. Todos estos paises hacen lo mejor posible
por la paz mundial. De no ser por la Organización de Naciones Unidas,
seria extremadamente difícil lograr acuerdos y tratados de diferente
índole, que afectan la vida diaria de todos y cada uno de los ciudadanos
de todos los país. Actualmente las Naciones Unidas ha logrado
firmar acuerdos en muy diversas areas así como los derechos humanos
hasta de medio ambiente.
From Elizabeth Hoeffer
A. With all of the problems going on today how do you decide
which problems are dealt with and which ones are not?
B. Being a Blue Helmet must be very difficult and stressful. Have there
ever been attempts on your lives? What type of measures are taken so that
each of you are kept safely?
A A. Where questions of international peace and security are concerned,
the Security Council has primary responsibility for dealing with these
matters. Any State may bring problems to the Council's attention,
or the Secretary-General can raise matters with the Council. It's
important to remember that it's really up to the Governments represented
in the United Nations to decide on what action to take--or not to take.
The Secretary-General and his staff can present information, analyses,
or options that the Member States might want to take into account when
deciding how to handle a particular situation, but the final decision is
up to Governments when they vote on resolutions in the Security Council--and
in other UN bodies.
As you know, the Security Council has 15 Members; five of them are permanent
members of the Council, in accordance with the UN Charter: China, France,
the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States.
These five countries have the power of "veto" in the Council. This
means that if any of these five vote against a "substantive" or important
proposal in the Council, it will not be adopted, even if the proposal has
the support of all the other Council members.
B. It is quite stressful to work in a conflict situation for a long
time. There are hundreds military and civilian staff members alike who
are working in dangerous situations in several UN missions all over the
world. Many UN staff members have lost their lives or are still reported
to be missing - either they have been kidnapped or killed by some factional
group in the country they were serving. There is danger every day and there
is no such thing as a "safe mission." Under the best circumstances,
peacekeepers are able to carry out their work with the cooperation of those
involved in a conflict. But where fighting flares up or continues,
the danger to peacekeepers grows. Peacekeepers may carry light weapons
for self-defense, but their best defense is respect from the people they
are trying to help. Even where fighting has stopped, peacekeepers
often face dangers such as unmarked landmines, or banditry and violent
QFrom: New River Middle School of Marine Science, Ft. Lauderdale
a. Job questions - What training did you have to have to do your job?
What do you get out of doing this type of work? On a daily basis,
what do you actually do with your time? Is there an age limit for peacekeepers?
b. Living conditions - Where do you live? Is your family there too? What
are the local living conditions and what are your living conditions?
Do you eat local food? What do you do in your free time?
c. Mission questions - How many missions have you been on? How long do you generally stay? How do different peacekeepers from all over the world work together when you each have different languages and different cultures? What language do you speak in the mission?
d. Band-aids: What is the hardest thing you have had to do? Do you think the world
is getting more peaceful as a result of all the efforts, or are
many missions like band-aids when the arteries have ruptured?
AJob questions: The soldiers and officers serving a UN peacekeeping operations
are trained, selected and sent by their own countries. Besides the
military troops, there are often civilian police officers, engineers to
build roads, medical personnel, pilots, communications experts and
many others. Working in a mission can
be a very rewarding personal and professional experience in itself. First
of all, you get to know the people of the country, become acquainted to
new cultures and traditions and also learn about their habits and other
traits and personality.
The welcome we receive from the local civilian population is very gratifying
-- just the presence of a UN mission with a watchful eye on
what is happening on the ground can make them feel more at ease.
A typical day for a peacekeeper usually begins very early in the morning.
For a civilian or military officer, it begins with a daily operational
and political briefing of the situation overnight. This lasts usually for
about 30 minutes. Then it could either be meetings
with local officials or representatives of different groups.
If there has been a crisis overnight, meetings are scheduled between the
two sides with the UN officers acting as mediators. This often helps
to present local clashes from growing out of control.
Recently, the minimum age limit for soldiers serving in UN operations
has been set at 18, but preferably 21; military observers and civilian
police officers must be 25 years of age or older.
Living conditions: Military peacekeepers usually live in a camp or at the mission's
headquarters. In some cases the civilians need to be also housed in a camp,
depending on the security situation. Under more relaxed circumstances,
civilians and even some military staff live among the local population
in rental accommodations in the town or city where they work. When the
peacekeeper's family is allowed to join him or her, the children can enroll
in the local school.
However, some missions are expressly non-family missions, meaning that
UN employees may not bring their families with them. This rule applies
for hazardous or hardship missions like Bosnia and Herzegovina, Somalia,
Cambodia, Angola. Living conditions, security threats, contact with the
locals and, of course, food and climate vary from mission to mission. In
the free time, if there is any, we meet with friends and colleagues at
each other's places...for a dinner, go to the cinema, play sports, etc
or just watch television or do some reading.
Mission questions: I myself have served in three UN missions. The first one was in Bosnia
from 1993 to 1996. My second mission was in Angola where I served for about
18 months. Now, I am posted in Lebanon for the last 11 months. Mission
life can be risky and hazardous and I think that it is best to move and
go to other new places. It all depends on how well and how long can
any person adapt to this sort of a lifestyle.
I find it interesting and rewarding to work with people from
so many different countries of the world. It is a unique mix of people
from all over the world sharing one common vision of peace - therefore,
we enjoy generally excellent communication, work relations and coordination
in each mission. English and French are the official working languages
of the United Nations.
In most missions, English is the main language for UN peacekeepers,
although French is used in missions in Western Sahara and the Central African
Republic. Portuguese is important for service with MONUA in Angola.
Band-aids: Over the past several decades, the United Nations has successfully
helped to end numerous conflicts, but there have been setbacks as well,
which are hard to digest. The most painful fact the international community,
acting through the UN, had to learn was that peace can not be imposed if
the hostile groups are unwilling to be reconciled -- this is the reason
why the civil war in Somalia became increasingly impossible to control
and dangerous for the peacekeepers themselves. The last resort was withdrawal.
On the other hand, the parties' commitment to peace after a long civil
war was what made ONUMOZ - the UN mission in Mozambique - so successful.
You may think of some missions as "band aids" in that they
need to be in place for a long time to separate enemies and just prevent
full-scale war - such as UNIFIL in Lebanon or UNFICYP in Cyprus.
It's worth bearing in mind that "band aids" and other temporary measures
often help a patient heal and prevent a wound from getting worse.
Unfortunately, I doubt that the world is getting more peaceful as a
whole. But I am convinced that in many places UN peacekeepers have
prevented situations from getting worse and have sometimes given people
in conflict the "breathing room" they needed to achieve peace.
I am a student who would like to study conflict resolution. What opportunities
exist for me to work as a UN Peacekeeper? What are the different jobs,
and each of their duties?
The United Nations action in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
is an example of successful "preventive deployment" - the fielding of peacekeepers
to forestall a probable conflict. Judging by your question, I think that
you would be more suitable to work in the field of political or civil affairs.
There are opportunities for you to work in other fields as well. If you
are looking for a job as a Political Affairs or Civil Affairs officer,
you have to hold at least a master's degree in international relations
or political science. I wish you good luck in your studies and endeavours.