Peacekeepers Must Earn Trust, Rise to Challenges

Peacekeepers Must Earn Trust, Rise to Challenges

Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, minister of defence and military veterans of the Republic of South Africa, spoke on May 29, 2017, the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers, at the De Brug military facility near Bloemfontein, South Africa. Her remarks have been edited to fit this format.

As we mark International Peacekeepers’ Day, you must rededicate yourselves to your declared professional mission and values as encapsulated in our Code of Conduct. You need to ensure that you consistently strive to deserve the trust that the people of our country and wherever you are deployed beyond our borders granted you. Through your dedicated work and discipline, rise to the challenges before you.

Warfighting places the greatest demand on military forces. The conduct of military operations is demanding in the physical, psychological, mental and moral sense, and that is why forces are trained and equipped for that. Therefore, it is imperative that the way the South African National Defence Force is organized, structured, trained and equipped takes these factors into account.

The present battlespace requires rapid, appropriate and proportional use of force. The experience we have garnered confirms that such force must also make provision to operate in a multinational context, which we are doing.

You are entrusted with the responsibility to safeguard our people and better the lives of millions on the African continent. Therefore, your professional status is not an inherent right but is granted through a contract with the society within which we operate. Its maintenance depends on the public’s belief that professionals are trustworthy. To remain trustworthy, professionals must meet the obligations expected by society. It is this theme of professionalism that I call on you to demonstrate in moving forward as Soldiers deploying in peace support operations.

The values that you have must epitomize professionalism — service, altruism, duty, legality, responsibility, discipline and accountability. Like other professions, we, too, have a responsibility to ensure that these values and principles endure so as to maintain the trust of the public, which we are expected to serve. In so doing, these values must be continually taught and reinforced at all levels of our organization.

Ensure that you consistently strive to deserve the trust that the people of our country have granted you. Through your dedicated work and discipline, rise to the challenges before you. Through your achievements, prove to our president and the nation that they can truly value your contribution to making Africa a safer, more secure and better place to live for generations to come.

Convey my best wishes and gratitude to your loved ones and tell them the following: “A true Soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him!”

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