Cyprus is a beacon of hope for those in conflict, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Cyprus and UNFICYP Head of Mission Elizabeth Spehar has said on the occasion of the 71st United Nations Day.
In her speech at a reception at the Ledra Palace hotel in Nicosia’s UN-controlled buffer zone, the Special Representative said that UNFICYP strived to live up to the UN’s commitment to support peace and security, dignity and prosperity and acknowledged “the critical role played by the mission’s troop and police contributing countries, as well as our peacekeepers – military, police and civilian – who patrol the buffer zone, keep the peace, bridge differences, build confidence and foster understanding”.
“Tonight, as we stand here at the historic Ledra Palace Hotel, I know I speak on behalf of all my colleagues in the mission in expressing gratitude to our friends and partners from across Cyprus, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, Maronites, Armenians, Latins, Cypriots from diverse disciplines and backgrounds, as well as our many friends in the international community – all of us dedicated to the cause of peace and to a comprehensive settlement that will reunify this beautiful island,” she said.
She pledged to continue working closely with the people of Cyprus, “with determination and vigour, towards this long awaited goal, and following a settlement. At this critical moment in history, Cyprus is a beacon of hope for those in conflict within the region and throughout the world.”
Spehar also acknowledged the work of civil society in building strong bonds between the island’s communities. She made particular reference to the Cyprus Dialogue Forum, the Peace Players and the Bi-communal Choir. She congratulated the Association for Historical Dialogue and Research on winning the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s Max van der Stoel Award. “We have a deep appreciation for the work of these and the many other civil society organisations across the island, and the UN will continue to support their work as much as possible”.
The Special Representative also said that this month the UN also marks 16 years since the adoption of UN Security Council resolution 1325 – the first resolution of the Council to address the disproportionate and unique impact of armed conflict on women.
“In Cyprus, the leaders, Mr. Anastasiades and Mr. Akinci, have taken steps to involve more women in the ongoing negotiations, including through the establishment of the bi-communal Technical Committee on Gender Equality and by including several women as part of their core negotiating teams and working groups” Spehar noted, adding however that “there is still much work to do – not just in Cyprus, but also elsewhere around the world and even within the UN – to ensure women are adequately represented in decision-making at all levels”.