Ban Ki-moon's speeches


Remarks at wreath-laying ceremony on the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, UN Headquarters, 29 May 2007

Dear colleagues and friends,

Let us begin by observing a minute of silence for our fallen colleagues.

[MINUTE OF SILENCE.]

Thank you.

United Nations peacekeeping is a model of burden-sharing among countries. But we must never forget that the brunt of this burden is borne by individuals.

We are mindful of that as we gather here in front of the Chagall stained glass window memorializing Dag Hammarskjöld and his colleagues, who died on a peace mission to Congo; as we stand under the watchful eyes of Count Folke Bernadotte, who was assassinated while working as a UN mediator in the Middle East; as we look to the noble but tattered flag which was rescued from the bombing of our Baghdad headquarters, where twenty-two of our colleagues perished.

The loss of our own in the cause of peace is not a distant reality -- many of you who join me here today are thinking of fallen colleagues and friends. And many of you have had your own experiences of danger while serving in a United Nations peacekeeping environment. For those who survived, we are thankful. For those who lost their lives, we are that much more determined to honour their selfless dedication and courage, by continuing to work for peace and security in the world's most troubled regions.

In 2006, for the fourth year in a row, more than 100 men and women died in the service of United Nations peacekeeping. Now, with our deployment at a record high, more soldiers, police and civilian staff face danger in places like Sudan, the Middle East and Haiti. This was brought home to us just last Friday, with the brutal killing of Lieutenant-Colonel Ehab Nazih, a UN peacekeeper from Egypt spearheading our effort in Darfur.

I cannot accept the risks as the 'cost of doing business.' I am determined to do everything possible to safeguard the security and safety of our UN personnel in the field, from advocating robust mandates to ensuring they have the equipment they need to carry them out.

The wreath we lay today will not be here forever. But the memory of all those who have died will always be with us. Let us strive to ensure that these monuments to the fallen will be joined by even greater tributes to their work: lasting peace in societies that had been torn apart by war.