UNIFIL today marked the International Day of Peace during a ceremony at its headquarters in Naqoura, south Lebanon.
Present at the ceremony were UNIFIL Head of Mission Force Commander Major General Stefano Del Col, Colonel George Toufik Toufik representing the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) Commander, local authorities, representatives of the Lebanese security agencies and fellow peacekeepers.
Maj. Gen. Del Col reviewed a guard of honour from peacekeepers representing the 45 different national contingents that make up the UNIFIL force. Colonel Toufik joined him in laying wreaths at the UNIFIL cenotaph paying tribute to more than 300 UNIFIL peacekeepers who have given their lives in the cause of peace in south Lebanon since 1978.
During the ceremony, twenty military staff officers were awarded with the UN Peacekeeping Medal in recognition for their participation in UNIFIL.
In his remarks, Major General Del Col echoed the call of the UN Secretary-General António Guterres in March 2020 to lay down the weapons and focus on the battle against the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic. He added, "Let us dedicate this day to promoting dialogue and sharing thoughts on how to defeat this pandemic."
While noting that the work of the Mission to implement its mandate continues and that the situation in the mission's area of operations and along the Blue Line remains calm and stable, the UNIFIL head emphasized that UNIFIL creates conducive conditions for political and diplomatic efforts to take root.
"That's the way UNIFIL can achieve the final mission as envisioned by the Security Council Resolution 1701, which is to achieve a long-term solution and a permanent ceasefire," he added.
The UNIFIL head reiterated the Mission's commitment to assist the parties to maintain and solidify the cessation of hostilities. He also urged all to work with confidence and dedication, "through partnership and understanding, we will keep maintaining stability and working towards shaping peace together."
As emphasized in the Security Council resolution 2539, adopted last month extending UNIFIL's mandate for a year, Maj. Gen. Del Col said UNIFIL acts impartially and independently for peace.
"Together with the partners to the cessation of hostilities and the LAF, we maintain an environment favourable to peace and stability...the status that has lasted for over 14 years," he added.
The International Day of Peace was established in 1981 by the UN General Assembly. Two decades later, in 2001, the General Assembly unanimously voted to designate the Day as a period of non-violence and ceasefire.
The UN invites all nations and people to honour a cessation of hostilities during the Day, and to otherwise commemorate the Day through education and public awareness on issues related to peace. The global theme of this year's observance is "Shaping Peace Together."
For the UN, 2020 was already meant to be a year of listening and learning. To mark its 75th anniversary, the UN has invited millions of people worldwide to join the UN75 campaign, the largest and furthest-reaching global conversation on building the peaceful and prosperous future that we want.
In his message on 13 June 2020, marking the 100-day countdown to the International Day of Peace, Secretary-General Guterres said this Day could be an opportunity to exchange ideas on how to achieve a global ceasefire, heal our planet and turn the COVID-19 crisis into an opportunity for peace.