The full implementation of UN Resolution 1701 is a shared responsibility, and the parties' commitment is necessary to advance towards a long-term solution, announced UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander Major General Aroldo Lazaro.
The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) celebrated the International Day of Peace in Naqoura, south Lebanon, in a ceremony attended by Lebanese political representatives, including Deputy Speaker Elias Bou Saab, local authorities, Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), security forces, UN officials, and members of the international community.
Lazaro and LAF representative Brigadier General Mounir Shehade laid wreaths at the cenotaph in memory of the over 300 UNIFIL peacekeepers who have lost their lives while serving in south Lebanon since 1978.
Earlier this month, the UN Security Council adopted resolution 2695, extending UNIFIL's peacekeeping mandate for another year.
The resolution reaffirms UNIFIL's authorization to conduct its operations independently while continuing to coordinate with the Government of Lebanon regarding Lebanese sovereignty.
"As our name says, we are peacekeepers – we keep the peace, but we do not bestow it," Lazaro told the crowd.
"We keep the peace that the parties have each given space for, have each worked to maintain in their ways. But whenever it is threatened, UNIFIL is there, ready to help."
The UNIFIL head emphasized the mission's strong partnership with the Lebanese government and armed forces.
"We are here at the invitation of the Lebanese government, who have been our hosts for over forty-five years," he said.
"We coordinate closely with the Lebanese Armed Forces, conducting patrols with them and on our own, to help the government someday exercise its authority over this beautiful country."
He also stressed the importance of restraint and UNIFIL's role in decreasing tensions.
Lazaro noted: "The danger of miscalculation remains, a danger that could jeopardize the cessation of hostilities and lead us to conflict."
He asserted it was important for the parties to bear this in mind and to use UNIFIL's liaison and coordination mechanisms to deconflict situations and decrease tensions.
"The full implementation of UN Resolution 1701 remains a shared responsibility, and the parties' commitment is necessary to advance towards a long-term solution."
Military staff officers were awarded the UN Peacekeeping Medal during the ceremony for participating in the mission's work. As is customary, white doves were released at UNIFIL's cenotaph to symbolize peace.
The International Day of Peace was established by the UN General Assembly in 1981.
It is dedicated to ceasefire and non-violence and is an occasion during which all promote tolerance, justice, and human rights.
Each year, on this day, the UN invites all nations and people to honor a 24-hour cessation of hostilities and to commemorate the day through activities that promote peace.