In peacekeeping missions around the world military personnel come together from countries big and small, rich and poor, new and old to serve in the name of Peace. Each and every day they risk their lives to fulfill the goals of their Mission and the United Nations. Recently, UNMIK’s Military Liaison Officers were honoured for their contribution to building peace in Kosovo with the UN Medal.
The UN Medal consists of a medallion and a ribbon. The medallion is in bronze with the emblem of the UN in the front and the inscription ‘in the service of peace’ on the back.
“I’d like to thank you for your service in the organization, you should be proud of your efforts as an officer and as part of a larger team of peacekeepers who make a difference around the world. Although the nature of our role here is not the same as other missions the fact is that we are part of the international community and you are contributing to peace and security,” stated Special Representative of the Secretary General Farid Zarif prior to awarding the medals.
More than 95,000 UN uniformed personnel, military and police, from more than 115 countries participate in peacekeeping missions. They come from all corners of the globe, each bringing their different cultures and experiences to the job. At UNMIK alone Portugal, Ukraine, Turkey, Poland, Norway, Czech Republic, Romania and Spain are represented.
All of them, and peacekeepers around the world, are united in their goal to build peace.
“Many different elements, both military and civilian, from many different countries and agencies co-operate to achieve the objective of a better and secure life for the population of Kosovo, and these soldiers are part of it,” said Colonel João Manuel Da Cunha Porto, the Chief Military Liaison Officer prior to delivering the medals to his team.
Since 1999, military personnel have been present in Kosovo with the UN Mission performing a wide range of activities such as monitoring a disputed border, monitoring and observing peace processes in post-conflict areas, providing security across a conflict zone, protecting civilians, assisting in-country military personnel with training and support and/or assisting ex-combatants in implementing the peace agreements they may have signed.
“I always wanted to participate and be a member of a UN mission, to see how the UN works and to test its efficiency. For many years I’ve heard some of my military colleagues complaining that missions ‘are undisciplined and impossible to coordinate with’, and my civilian friends from the UN and NGOs saying that ‘the best military is the one farthest away'. My time at UNMIK has proved that they could not be more wrong. Efficient coordination and collaborative efforts are a must and entirely possible when you are working for the most important thing: the good of the people,” commented Commander Ignacio Villanueva, one of the UNMIK-KFOR liaisons Officers.