25 May 2011
Press Release
OBV/998
PKO/271

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers

 

to Be Observed at Headquarters, 27 May

 


The ninth annual International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers will be observed on 29 May.  It will be a particularly sombre occasion this year due to the loss of life in an attack on a United Nations compound in Afghanistan, a plane crash in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in incidents and accidents elsewhere in recent months.


Since 29 May falls on Sunday this year, commemorative activities at United Nations Headquarters and many other United Nations offices around the world will be held on Friday, 27 May.


The International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers was established by the General Assembly in 2002 to pay tribute to all men and women serving in United Nations peacekeeping operations for their high level of professionalism, dedication and courage, and to honour the memory of those who have lost their lives in the cause of peace.  The General Assembly designated 29 May as the Day, as it was the date in 1948 when the first United Nations peacekeeping mission, the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), began operations in Palestine.


“The tragedies that have befallen United Nations peacekeepers already this year are a sobering reminder of the risks entailed in their important work for peace.  As we mark the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers, we pay tribute to the more than 120,000 military, police and civilians serving worldwide under the blue flag and remember those who lost their lives in the cause of peace,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a message for the Day.


The 73 peacekeepers who lost their lives while serving with the United Nations between 1 March and 31 December 2010, as a result of hostile acts, accidents and disease, will posthumously receive the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal at a ceremony on 27 May.  The 26 peacekeepers that died between 1 January and 10 April 2011 will also be recognized at the ceremony.


This year’s commemorative ceremonies come at a time when the services of United Nations peacekeepers are in greater demand than ever.  There are nearly 85,000 military personnel, more than 14,000 police officers, 5,700 international civilian and 13,700 national staff serving in 15 operations on four continents.  This broad-based participation not only bolsters the strength of United Nations operations, but it is a clear demonstration of the widespread respect for, dependence on and confidence in United Nations peacekeeping.


As peacekeeping has grown in size, it has also grown in scope.  Peacekeeping’s traditional role of monitoring ceasefire agreements and borders between sovereign States has evolved to carrying out large-scale multidimensional operations, addressing intra-State conflicts.  Many newer missions are mandated to facilitate political processes through the promotion of national dialogue and reconciliation; protect civilians; assist in the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants; support the organization of elections; protect and promote human rights; promote reform of the domestic security sector; and assist in restoring the rule of law.


This year, the United Nations is highlighting the important work that its peacekeepers are doing to strengthen the rule of law in many of the war-torn countries where they serve.  United Nations police officers are deployed in 16 peacekeeping and special political missions and are responsible for training, monitoring local police performance and helping to restructure and reform national and local police services.  United Nations corrections officers and judicial experts are deployed in peacekeeping missions to train and mentor court and corrections personnel while helping build or rebuild courthouses and prisons.


“Developing fully functioning and unbiased police and judicial court systems is fundamental to building sustainable peace.  Without law and order, there can be no peace.  And without peace, there can be no law and order,” according to the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Alain Le Roy.


To honour the fallen peacekeepers and those who continue to serve in the cause of peace, there will be several events held at United Nations Headquarters in New York on 27 May:


9:15 a.m.: Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro will oversee a solemn wreath-laying ceremony in honour of all fallen peacekeepers in the United Nations Visitors Lobby.  The ceremony is open to the public and the press.


10 a.m.: Deputy Secretary-General Migiro will preside over a ceremony at which the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal will be awarded posthumously to the military, police and civilian personnel who lost their lives while serving in peacekeeping operations between 1 March and 31 December 2010.  The Medals will be received by representatives of the respective Permanent Missions to be forwarded on to the next of kin.  The ceremony will be held in the Economic and Social Council Chamber in the North Lawn Building.


12 p.m.: Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations and Head of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations’ Office of Rule of Law and Security Institutions, Dmitry Titov, will be joined as guests at the Spokesperson’s Noon Briefing by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations’ Police Adviser, Ann-Marie Orler; the Chief of the Department’s Criminal Law and Judicial Advisory Service, Robert Pulver; and the Department’s corrections expert, Mary Okumu.


2 p.m.: Under-Secretary-General Le Roy will award medals to the military and police officers currently serving in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations at Headquarters in New York.


A multimedia exhibit titled “Law. Order. Peace” will be opened in the Visitors Lobby of the United Nations Headquarters on Thursday, 26 May, at 5:45 p.m.  It will highlight the work of United Nations police, corrections officers and judicial experts.


For further information, contact Douglas Coffman, Department of Public Information, tel.: +1 212 963 4481, e‑mail: coffmand@un.org; or Josephine Guerrero, Department of Peacekeeping Operations, tel.: +1 212 963 1964, e‑mail: guerreroj@un.org; or visit the Peacekeepers Day website at http://www.un.org/en/events/peacekeepersday/2011/


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For information media • not an official record