Share this story
Close X
Switch to Desktop Site

UN chief accepts Nobel Prize for peacekeeping forces

The United Nations chief accepted the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of UN peacekeeping troops on Saturday and said their success illustrates a new mood of understanding and common sense in the world. But the UN Secretary-General, Javier P'erez de Cu'ellar, also said the peacekeepers' crucial mission is threatened because the United States and other nations do not pay their dues to the world body.

``Never before in history have military forces been employed internationally not to wage war, not to establish domination and not to serve the interests of any power or group of powers, but rather to prevent conflict between peoples,'' Mr. P'erez de Cu'ellar told an audience that included King Olav V of Norway.

About these ads

Despite conflicts and terrible new weapons, ``collective responsibility for peace can be evolved in a truly representative international system,'' P'erez de Cu'ellar said. ``There is a new mood of understanding and common sense.''

His hands appeared to shake with emotion as he accepted the gold medal and prize certificate from Egil Aarvik, chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee. The peacekeeping forces are the first military force ever to win the award.

An audience of 600 at Oslo University's Aula Hall observed a moment of silence for the 733 peacekeepers who have died on duty.

The first UN force went to the Middle East in 1948. Since then, half a million soldiers from 58 countries have served in trouble spots around the world, keeping combatants apart and monitoring cease-fires.

The UN has 10,000 soldiers in the field today.

On Friday, P'erez de Cu'ellar accepted the money portion of the award, worth $416,000, but said peacekeeping forces were threatened by failure of the United States and other countries to pay their UN dues.

``I don't know how we're going to cope financially,'' he told reporters. UN members owe about $450 million in back dues, and the United States is the biggest debtor with nearly $350 million outstanding, he said.

About these ads

The Reagan administration has been holding back money from the world body on grounds that is overstaffed, wasteful, and has an anti-Western bias.

President Reagan has said the debt will be paid eventually, but P'erez de Cu'ellar suggested that could come too late.

In a separate ceremony in Stockholm, five Americans shared the science prizes with three West Germans, a Briton, and a Frenchman.

Follow Stories Like This
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.