|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers to Be Observed
at New York Headquarters, Offices Worldwide, 29 May
The International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers will be observed on Thursday, 29 May, marking the sixth successive year in which the Organization will honour more than 100 “blue helmets” who lost their lives the previous year while serving the cause of peace. Commemorative activities will be held at United Nations Headquarters in New York, and at peacekeeping operations and offices around the world.
A sombre milestone and stark reminder of the risks incurred by individuals who put their lives on the line when they deploy to missions around the world, the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers was established by the General Assembly in 2002, in tribute to all men and women serving in 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 Assembly designated 29 May as the Day because it was the date in 1948 when the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), the world body’s first peacekeeping mission, began operations in Palestine. The theme for 2014 is “UN Peacekeeping: A Force for Peace. A Force for Change. A Force for the Future.”
In a message to mark the Day, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said: “Last year, 106 peacekeepers perished carrying out their sacred duty while serving under the UN flag, bringing the total number of lives lost in the history of peacekeeping to more than 3,200. We mourn the passing of every one of these courageous individuals. We grieve with their friends and families and we recommit ourselves to ensure that their contribution in the cause of peace will never be forgotten.” He added: “United Nations peacekeeping is modernizing to ensure that it can tackle tomorrow’s peace and security challenges. It is deploying new technologies such as unarmed, unmanned aerial vehicles, refining its practices to better protect civilians and boosting the representation of women among its ranks while strengthening its partnerships with regional organizations.”
Hervé Ladsous, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, said: “Today we honour those who have lost their lives while serving on our peacekeeping operations. Our courageous peacekeepers who made this ultimate sacrifice did so so that others could have a better life. I express my deepest and most sincere condolences to the families and friends of those we honour today. We honour their memory and pay tribute to their dedication.”
The 2014 commemorative ceremonies will be held at a time when the services of United Nations peacekeepers continue to be in great demand, with nearly 85,000 military personnel, 12,000 police officers as well as 17,000 international civilian and national staff serving in 16 peacekeeping operations on four continents.
Several events will be held at New York Headquarters on 29 May to honour the fallen peacekeepers and those who continue to serve the cause of peace:
10 a.m.: The Secretary-General will oversee a solemn wreath-laying ceremony in honour of all the fallen at the Peacekeepers Memorial on the North Lawn. The ceremony is open to United Nations-based media and will be shown — with a delay — on UN Webcast (http://webtv.un.org/).
10:30 a.m.: Secretary-General Ban will make remarks at a ceremony in which the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal will be awarded posthumously to 106 military, police and civilian personnel who lost their lives while serving in peacekeeping operations during 2013. The medals for military and police personnel will be received by representatives of their respective Permanent Missions, to be forwarded to their next of kin. The ceremony will be held in the Dag Hammarskjöld Library auditorium and will be shown on UN Webcast.
12 noon: Under-Secretary-General Ladsous and Under-Secretary-General for Field Support Ameerah Haq will be the guests at the Spokesperson’s noon briefing, and their press briefing will be webcast live.
2 p.m.: Under-Secretaries-General Ladsous and Haq will award medals to the military and police officers currently serving in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations at New York Headquarters.
For further information, contact Douglas Coffman, Department of Public Information, tel.: + 1 212 963 4481, e-mail: email@example.com; or Jon Greenway, Department of Peacekeeping Operations, tel.: +1 212 963 2124, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; or visit the Peacekeepers Day website at http://www.un.org/en/events/peacekeepersday, or the United Nations Peacekeeping website: http://www.un.org/en/peacekeeping/operations/pkday.shtml#pkday2014.
* *** *For information media • not an official record