Partners for Peace: UNMISS marks International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers

UNMISS peacekeepers united nations PK Day south sudan

Today, at the UNMISS headquarters in Juba, South Sudan, peacekeepers, the diplomatic community and government partners came together in a meaningful and heartfelt ceremony, marked under this year's theme, People, Peace, Progress-The Power of Partnerships. Photo by Priyanka Chowdhury/UNMISS.

27 May 2022

Partners for Peace: UNMISS marks International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers

Priyanka Chowdhury

JUBA - “I want young girls to dream big and join law enforcement. Who knows, one day they will be serving as a peacekeeper and wearing a Blue Beret like I am,” says Christeel Philip, a United Nations Police (UNPOL) officer from Indonesia with a smile.

Christeel’s excitement is palpable. She has just been part of a meaningful ceremony held at the headquarters of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) to mark International Day of UN Peacekeepers.

Her enthusiasm is shared by fellow peacekeeper Marcela Alicia Vallejos from Argentina. “What makes our job special is that we can’t do it alone,” she reveals. “We work with everybody—our counterparts in the South Sudanese police and military, with the government, with humanitarian colleagues, and most importantly, with the people. We can’t build peace in isolation,” she adds almost philosophically.

The voices of these two peacekeepers found a fitting echo in the theme of today’s heartfelt event—People, Peace, Progress – The Power of Partnerships.

The day began with the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Nicholas Haysom, and Stephen Par Kuol, the South Sudanese Minister for Peacebuilding, inspecting a Guard of Honour formed by Blue Helmets from China, Nepal and Rwanda as well as a mixed group of countries representing UNPOL.

“We know that peace is won when governments and societies join forces to resolve differences through dialogue, build a culture of nonviolence, and protect the most vulnerable,” said SRSG Haysom. “In this spirit, UN peacekeepers in South Sudan work with national and local government authorities, opposition groups, civil society, humanitarians, the media, and communities, to foster peace, protect civilians, promote human rights and the rule of law.”

Minister Kuol agreed. “The core goal of having the United Nations today is peace and ensuring that our people can enjoy the fruits of peace and progress. This year’s theme captures the essence of our collective efforts in South Sudan,” he stated.  

One of the most poignant moments of the day: The reading out of names of peacekeepers who paid the ultimate price while serving for peace.

As the flags were lowered and wreaths were laid to honour their legacy, everybody present observed a minute of silence in their memory.

This reflective mood was, however, uplifted by the grace and vigour of South Sudanese Acholi dancers, who had even the top UN envoy matching steps with them.

Perhaps the most heartfelt endorsement of the key role played by UNMISS in helping the world’s newest country to make the difficult journey from war to peace came from one of our own.

“I have been a soldier for 12 years with the Nepalese Army. I never imagined that I would, one day, be selected to join a UN Peacekeeping mission. My time at UNMISS has been very special because I am working to create a better tomorrow,” said Manita Pradhan, a peacekeeper.

At UNMISS, 12000 military, 1500 police, and 2500 civilians – including nearly 400 UN Volunteers – serve with dedication and professionalism under the UN flag.