3 December 2015
By Tom Collins
The Minister for of Defence, Mr. Simon Coveney, T.D., today (3rd of December 2015) addressed delegates at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre in Accra.
The Centre which was established in 2003, is a Centre of Excellence for training, education and research in African peace and security and named after the former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan a native of Ghana and one of Africa’s foremost Diplomats. The Centre was established to address not only Ghana’s needs for training men and women to meet the changing demands of complex and multidimensional peacekeeping activities, but also to help meet the peacekeeping training requirements of the West African sub region and the wider African continent.
Commenting on the shared history between both countries the Minister spoke of the “common bond in our long-term dedication and commitment to UN peacekeeping and international peacekeeping generally.” The Minister told his audience that “Ireland’s first troop contribution came shortly after in 1960 with its deployment to the UN mission in the Congo, alongside Ghanian Armed Forces. Today both our nations continue to serve together in the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), the United Nations Mission in the Ivory Coast (UNOCI), the United Nations Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) and the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO)”.
Speaking on the anniversary of Ireland membership of the United Nations the Minister said “Ireland is celebrating a significant anniversary this year. 60 years ago, on this very month, Ireland joined the United Nations and in that time we have pursued a series of policy priorities, including peacekeeping, which continue to be central to our foreign policy today. “
The Minister also spoke about Ireland’s contribution to the Ebola crisis in West Africa and the current refugee crisis facing Africa.
As part of the new White Paper on Defence the Government has committed to evaluating and developing a new Institute for Peace and Leadership at the Curragh. Speaking in relation to this the Minister said “I believe that we have a lot to learn from how you have developed this facility into an internationally recognised centre of excellence, which is making a significant and valuable contribution to peacekeeping in this region and indeed throughout the world.”
The Minister concluded by saying that he looked forward to the continuing development of relationships, and hopefully partnerships, between out Training Institutes. “The professionalism of our peacekeepers is dependent to a large extent on the training and education they receive. We need to continue to ensure that we are ahead of the curve in having well trained and well equipped personnel to undertake the challenging peacekeeping roles that are emerging from the range of challenges facing us today”.