“Peacekeeping missions can never end wars by themselves, but they do offer the best possible way of ensuring there is a sustainable peace,” the Secretary-General said in a message marking the International Day of UN Peacekeepers, observed annually on 29 May. “Let us remember that the most expensive peacekeeping operation costs far less than the cheapest war.”Paying tribute to those who have lost their lives in the service of peace, he said, “We must continue to strive, as those brave peacekeepers did, to make it possible for the community of nations to live in peace.”More than 53,000 uniformed personnel and at least 11,000 civilian staff from 94 countries currently serve in 15 missions across the globe. Those numbers are likely to increase as the Security Council this week approved an operation for Burundi, while another is being planned for Sudan.”The growth in missions is a welcome sign that many countries are choosing a healthier path as they emerge from violent conflicts,” Mr. Annan said. But he noted that it places enormous strain on the UN’s resources and urged countries to provide the additional troops and funds needed to achieve the tasks ahead.UN peacekeeping has also moved beyond its traditional role as a monitor of ceasefires to engaging in such tasks as assisting political transitions, building institutions and fostering the spread of the rule of law, the Secretary-General noted. Missions are also supporting economic reconstruction, supervising elections, disarming militias and former combatants, facilitating humanitarian aid programmes and re-settling refugees and displaced persons.The Day was inaugurated to commemorate more than 50 years of dedication and sacrifice by peacekeepers serving under the UN’s flag to build confidence, reconcile warring parties and relieve suffering.
A FORMER BRITISH MP and Cabinet minister has been sentenced to six months in jail after pleading guilty to making nearly £13,000 (€15,500) in bogus expense claims.Denis MacShane, who served as Europe minister under former Prime Minister Tony Blair, admitted to filing 19 fake receipts for “research and translation” services between January 2005 and January 2008.The money from those claims was used to fund trips, including one to Paris to judge a literary competition.MacShane’s admission capped several years of scrutiny of his expenses, following the 2009 scandal that found UK politicians had billed the public for items such as pornographic movies and an ornamental duck house.He was sentenced today to six months in jail at London’s Old Bailey Court.Read: FG candidate defends no expenses pledge after party colleague calls him a ‘tosser’ > Read: TDs and Senators who lose their seats could face court action over unspent allowances >