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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Deputy Secretary-General: Statements

Tyre, Lebanon, 24 November 2011 - Deputy Secretary-General's remarks at Lebanese Independence Day luncheon

Respected religious leaders, Your Excellency, Major-General [Abdel Rahman] Shehaitly, Esteemed representatives of the Lebanese Armed Forces, Force Commander Major-General [Alberto] Asarta, Distinguished guests, Ladies and gentlemen,

It is an honour for me to join you to commemorate Lebanon's Independence Day.

This is a proud day for all citizens of Lebanon.

I thank the Lebanese people and the Lebanese Armed Forces for your hospitality.

Since achieving independence, the Lebanese people have been striving to achieve stability.

Lebanon is rich in culture, history and natural beauty; its people deserve to be rich in peace and security for all people.

UNIFIL's presence aims to help create a window of opportunity for establishing a permanent ceasefire and finding a long-term solution to the conflict.

In order to build a culture of peace, we need to promote mutual understanding and respect.

Cooperation and partnership, regardless of each other's convictions and beliefs, will help us achieve a better and safer future.

Religious leaders can use their extensive influence to promote tolerance and understanding.

This is true in Lebanon, in the Middle East and across the world.

Today's United Nations peacekeepers do much more than separate forces. Our blue helmets help get relief to people in need. They reach out to civil society.

And they are the faces of the United Nations in communities that are struggling to establish peace.

For the United Nations, peacekeeping is a responsibility and a privilege.

It is a task that also carries grave risks. You know the dangers all too well.

But attacks on peacekeepers will never weaken our resolve to proudly raise the United Nations flag.

We are here for the people of Lebanon – just as we are deployed around the world for citizens in similar situations – and we will never leave them to the mercy of brutal forces seeking to undermine peace.

Peacekeeping has become much more complex in recent decades. The demands on our peacekeepers are growing. We are addressing political issues, restoring the rule of law, protecting human rights, reforming security sectors and providing a wide range of expertise.

We are doing this under difficult and even adverse conditions. And we are doing it well.

We owe our success to our personnel – to our troops, our leadership and our civilian staff. But we could never succeed in our mission without cooperation from our hosts.

Here in Lebanon, we benefit from an excellent partnership.

Let us celebrate our partnership on this meaningful day of Lebanon's independence. Most of all, let us pledge to do our utmost together so that this country will find lasting peace and prosperity.

Shoukran! [Thank you.]