On behalf of the United States Government and the U.S. Embassy in Suva, let me say thank you to Commissioner Qiliho and our good friends in the Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Foreign Affairs for making this occasion possible. Thank you too to our Regional Security Officer, Shawn Gray, who has proven himself to be a great friend of Fiji and an excellent colleague.
Ladies and gentlemen: It is a great honor to welcome the Republic of Fiji as an International Police Peacekeeping Operations Support Program partner. This is a major step forward. For years, the United States has been a proud partner of Fiji in supporting international peacekeeping. Fiji already has a distinguished tradition spanning some four decades of stepping forward when called. Fiji has contributed personnel to some of the UN’s most difficult missions. From Iraq to Sinai, from Lebanon to the Golan Heights, Fiji has stood firm when challenged. And we are proud to have stood by Fiji. As we consider this history – indeed, as we review the past seven decades since the UN emerged following World War II – it is difficult to overstate the importance of peacekeeping.
We are here today, the United States and Fiji, because we are of like minds in terms of peace and security. The world is a better place because of it. And I daresay Fiji is better for it as well. Service in peacekeeping operations has a celebrated place in Fiji, and I can think of many distinguished Fijians, in uniform and out, who have distinguished themselves through peacekeeping service.
Your Honorable Prime Minister, your Honorable President, your Foreign Secretary – these are just three distinguished alumni of peacekeeping. While no longer in uniform, these public servants have brought valuable experiences gained through peacekeeping service to higher office. And I know that you yourself, General, served in Sinai, Lebanon, East Timor, Kuwait, Iraq, and most recently in the Golan. That is an impressive resume, sir.
While considering the importance of peacekeeping to the United States, to Fiji, and to the United Nations, it is important also to acknowledge the challenges faced by today’s peacekeepers. This is particularly and increasingly true today.
The past several years have seen a dramatic increase in fatal attacks on peacekeepers. We pay tribute to the sacrifice and bravery of those who have given their lives for the sake of peace, and recognize those on the ground who are bravely executing the mandates of the Security Council. Meeting these challenges requires troops and police to perform at the highest levels of operational effectiveness.
Recent negotiations in the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations have reinforced this message, when they called on the Secretary General to institutionalize a culture of performance by implementing a comprehensive performance policy framework. This framework will identify clear performance standards, evaluation, and accountability. The partnership that we are initiating today is very much in this spirit. We aim to create a community of practice among peacekeepers and the trainers of peacekeepers. We aim to inculcate a strong culture of performance that is geared toward effectiveness in missions and strong leadership.
Police play a critical role in this. And it is critical that police are fully trained and qualified for timely deployment to perform their mandated duties. We know, based on data, that support from trained and dedicated leaders, uniformed personnel, and staff makes peacekeeping more effective.
In this vein, I’d like to stress the importance of having female leaders in security and peacekeeping. The United States strongly supports increasing the meaningful participation of women as peacekeepers and in positions of leadership in UN peace operations.
In conclusion, the United States through the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs looks forward to our partnership with the Republic of Fiji to build, strengthen, and institutionalize the capabilities of the Fijian police to deploy well-led, well-qualified, well-trained officers who can carry out their mandated tasks and distinguish themselves in the proudest Fijian tradition.