Remarks by Chargé d’Affaires Melinda Tabler-Stone at the Peace Operations and Security Challenges in West Africa Workshop

Good morning, Your Excellences, Major General Akwa, Brigadier General San Clemente, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, All others protocols observed.

I would like to thank the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre and the Africa Center for Strategic Studies for inviting me to speak today.  I would also like to thank them for their dedication and leadership. They have trained more than 11,000 military, police and civilian personnel, and I am confident that the Peace Operations and Security Challenges in West Africa workshop will be a great success.

For many years, the United States has supported peacekeeping missions in West Africa, and we are committed to working with our partners in Ghana for many years to come. Ghana has been a major contributor to UN peacekeeping operations, supplying more than 3,000 police, military observers and troops throughout the region.

Together we are advancing peace and security by countering violent extremism, building national capacities in support of long-term security, and combating terrorism through effective governance, development, and rule of law. Together we are preventing transnational crime by assisting with border-, maritime-, aviation-, cyber-, and financial security to counter illicit drug, arms, people, and money trading.  And together we are working to prevent conflict and promote peace and security by ensuring, among other factors, that UN peacekeeping and peace support are adequately resourced.

The Peace Operations and Security Challenges in West Africa workshop will continue to move us forward. It will reinforce the 2015 Western Accord trainings conducted earlier this year and serve as a key element to an on-going series of military-to-military exercises. It will also support Africa Command’s peacekeeping training programs throughout West Africa.

As a representative of the United States, I am proud of our track record in this region. In 2005, we established a Peace and Security Adviser at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa in order to have an immediate representative from the United States’ Armed Forces readily available to advise on issues arising within upcoming or present missions.  Since 2009, we have trained more than 250,000 African troops and police from 25 African nations to serve in United Nations and African Union peacekeeping missions.

In 2014, at the United States-Africa Leader’s Summit, we developed the African Peacekeeping Rapid Response Partnership, to build the capacity of African militaries to rapidly deploy peacekeepers. Under this new initiative – of which Ghana is a partner – the United States has pledged $110 million every year for 3-5 years to African nations in order to build their capacity to rapidly deploy peacekeepers in response to emerging conflicts. Between 2008 and 2015, we have provided more than $4 billion in military aid. We also continue to be the largest contributor to United Nation’s peacekeeping missions, currently providing nearly 30% of all funding.

We are proud to be your partner, and we recognize Ghana’s integrity and stability as a democratic nation in the emerging world. You are a testament to the potential success of others.  It is our hope that, through our mutual efforts, we will be able to positively benefit both Ghana and other nations in the future.

This workshop brings together African peacekeeping veterans, future peacekeepers, peacekeeping trainers and security experts, international partners, and American government officials so that we can analyze and adjust our approaches to conflict resolution in the region amidst a changing security landscape.  You represent collective security and international solidarity in action. I thank you for your service, and I thank you for the opportunity to be a part of today’s opening ceremony.