Peacekeeper Profile: Jay Sacco
As Visits and Protocol Warrant Officer for the United Nations Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), Jay Sacco from the United Kingdom interacts closely with a diverse range of stakeholders. Jay joined the British Army in 1986 and while he has served with many NATO missions, UNFICYP is his first experience in a United Nations peacekeeping operation. In this brief interview, Jay speaks about his professional profile as well as some of the challenges and sacrifices that peacekeeping entails.
Q: Tell us a bit about your work with UNFICYP.
I have been UNFICYP’s Visits and Protocol Warrant Officer since I joined the Mission in September 2015. This is a dynamic role since I am the Mission’s first port of call for any visits by senior military officers, diplomatic partners or civilian counterparts to UNFICYP’s headquarters in Nicosia. I liaise closely with relevant embassies in Cyprus for all political and diplomatic visits to the Mission. Additionally, I am the focal point for all Troop Contributing Countries regarding all protocol-related issues. Another aspect of my job includes addressing external requests to enter the United Nations Protected Area and the Cyprus Buffer Zone.
Q: What, do you feel, are some of your biggest achievements in your career with UN peacekeeping?
I actually feel that I’ve accomplished something positive every day. I can’t really pinpoint any particular achievement because each day in peacekeeping operations brings in new challenges that we must creatively conquer.
Q: Could you tell us a bit about the challenges faced and sacrifices made by peacekeepers across the globe?
Peacekeeping itself is a daily challenge for all UN Missions. UNFICYP is no exception to this, though its regular activities may differ from other Missions. I believe that for military and police peacekeepers, being separated from their families for long periods of time, in support of efforts to create conditions for lasting peace in conflict-ridden countries, is the ultimate sacrifice.
Q: Would you encourage more people to join peacekeeping operations worldwide?
I would definitely encourage people to opt for peacekeeping as a career. I’d recommend UN peacekeeping right away to civilians as well as uniformed personnel looking for a role in an organization that promotes respect, integrity and professionalism. Peacekeeping missions give us the unique opportunity to change people’s lives for the better while working in diverse, multicultural teams.