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United Nations Relations

Peace Awards Presented in Benin on Day of UN Peacekeepers

The Universal Peace Federation organized a national day of mobilization for peace on June 12 in Benin marked by activities to honor the UN Peace Forces and people involved in many aspects of peacemaking. Supporting the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers, the event coincided with the opening of a regional summit of African leaders.

This event of international significance was marked by activities organized by UPF in collaboration with a Pan-African committee of youth from countries involved in conflict headed by Mr. Luc Cimidu. Events included an interreligious gathering to pray for peace and pay tribute to the United Nations peacekeeping forces, a Conference on the Culture of Peace, and an International Dinner to pay homage to peacemakers.

These special and new activities proceeded under the triple sponsorship of the Minister of National Defense, the Minister of Interior and Public Security, and the Spokesman of the Minister of Relations with Institutions and Civil Society.

In addition to honoring UN peace forces, the programs encouraged Ambassadors for Peace to take the initiative to promote peace and supported the tenth Summit of the Heads of States and Governments of the Sahel-Sahara Community (CEN–SAD) taking place in Benin June 17-18, 2008. The opening session was attended by the Secretary General of CEN-SAD, representatives of regional and international organizations, and heads of the diplomatic corps accredited to Benin.

This activity, the first one of this kind, obtained the logistical and financial support from Benin army officials. More than 500 soldiers, gendarmes, and police officers with the support and participation of the High Military Command directed by generals and other high army officers, attended this event. General Mathieu Boni, the Armed Forces Chief of Staff, offered greetings and encouraged the development of peace initiatives. Some members of the peacekeeping force in Cote d'Ivoire were also present.

Representatives of many denominations and religious groups participated, including pastors, evangelists, and priests from Christian groups including Catholic, Orthodox, Celestial Church, Cherubim and Seraphim. Muslim and Unificationist leaders also offered prayers.

The conference, on the topic ''Principles to Build Peace and Solve Conflicts," took place in the large amphitheater in the State Major of the Armies of Benin. The participants were filled with enthusiasm by the various speakers. Army officers, including several women, and NGO representatives were present and enriched the conference with their contributions and responses to presentations by UPF Sub-Regional Chairman for West Africa 1, Mr. Paterne Zinsou.

More than 140 people attended the International Dinner Honoring Peacemakers at the Benin Marina Hotel in Cotonou. Current and former Ministers and members of Parliament were present, along with Mrs. Diallo Boni, president of the Organizing Committee of the CEN-SAD Summit; she is a former Minister of  Foreign Affairs and current Diplomatic Special Adviser of the Head of the State. Additional guests included Benin government officials, diplomats, and army officers.

Leading peacemakers and Ambassadors for Peace were honored by the UPF’s “Crown of Peace” Awards, which honor exceptional service in public life and in particular efforts to unite and heal communities. A special presentation was made to the President and First Lady of Benin, Dr. Boni Yayi and Mrs. Chantal Yayi, and was received on their behalf by Mrs. Grâce Lawani, Head of Mission for the President of the Republic.

NOTE: In 2002, the UN General Assembly designated May 29 as the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers, to pay tribute to all the men and women who have served in UN peacekeeping operations for their high level of professionalism, dedication and courage, and to honor the memory of those who have lost their lives in the cause of peace.

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