UNIFIL’s 1st Force Commander Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Erskine passes on
Lieutenant General Emmanuel Alexander Erskine (Retired), one of Ghana’s celebrated military officers, has passed on at the age of 86.
In 1978, Lt. Gen. Erskine was appointed the first Commander of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), which was established that year to confirm Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon, restore international peace and security and assist the Lebanese Government in restoring its effective authority in the area.
This was preceded by his appointment as Chief of Staff of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization in Palestine (UNTSO) on 1st January 1976 to April 1978.
On the 40th Anniversary of UNIFIL in 2018, the Ghana Armed Forces honoured Lt. Gen. Erskine, who led the body till 1986, for his distinguished service.
The Chief of Defence Staff of the day, Lt. Gen Obed Boamah Akwa, said Gen Erskine accomplished a lot in the troubled space of the Middle East in a time when peacekeeping in Lebanon was more dangerous.
Lt. Gen. Erskine was the Chief of Army Staff between January and February 1972. He later held the same position from February 1973 to April 1974.
Information sourced from the prabook.com bio site states that he obtained his West African School Certificate in 1956 and joined the Army on March 17, 1958. He was, however, commissioned into the Signal Corps of the Ghana Army, after a course at Sandhurst on December 15, 1960.
He did further advanced military courses, including two signals courses at Catterick, Britain and an associate officer’s course in the USA.
He served in various capacities with the Ghana Army – as the Commanding Officer of the Ghana Signals Regiment and later Director of Communications with the Ghana Ministry of Defence.
He later became Director for Operations and Planning at the same Ministry from 1971 to 1972.
Gen. Erskine served as the Chief of Staff and Deputy Force Commander of the United Nations Emergency Force Two (UNEF 2) from 1974 to 1976 in Egypt.
In 1992, he contested Ghana’s Presidential election as the candidate of the People’s Heritage Party (PHP), of which he was a founding member.
Gen. Erskine was also one of the nine members of the National Reconciliation Commission, which were appointed by the President John Kufuor in consultation with the Council of State of Ghana.
The Commission was to investigate human rights abuses committed during the five military regimes, which had ruled Ghana.
Gen. Erskine was the Chairman of the Opportunities Industrialization Centre Ghana, Accra Local Programme Committee.
He has been a member of the Pugwash Council from 1992 and was a participant at the 50th Pugwash conference, which deliberated on “Eliminating the Causes of War”.
He served as the Chairman of the Ghana Action Network on Small Arms (GANSA) in 2002.
Gen. Erskine is survived by his wife and eight children.