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International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers, 29 May 2012


Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Colleagues,

I am honoured to be with you today, and to be asked to join the Secretary-General in this commemoration of our fallen colleagues.

Today we remember the 112 peacekeepers — military, police, civilians — who died in the line of duty in 2011.  We also remember the 31 colleagues who have fallen up till today in 2012. We join their families and loved ones in mourning and remembering our fallen members of the peacekeeping family. And on this day we remember all our fallen peacekeepers since our first mission in 1948, over 2,900 colleagues.

I want to reflect briefly beyond the numbers of fallen colleagues, for us to remember each individual, his or her family and loved ones who continue to feel their loss so acutely. And I want to reflect upon the significance of their work for the hopes of millions of people around the world who yearn to live free of the fear of armed conflict.

Each day our peacekeepers work in some of the most dangerous places on earth in order to help bring stability to some of the world’s most marginalised and vulnerable peoples.

Our peacekeepers work in towns and villages, alongside communities striving to emerge from the horrors of war and armed conflict.

Whether patrolling the areas around Darfur camps for displaced persons so that women can more safely collect firewood without the risk of rape; or combating armed militias in the vast region of eastern DR Congo to stop their marauding of civilian populations; or whether it is our unarmed military observers working to try to bring down the violence in Syria; UN police training national police services in Haiti and Timor-Leste and Liberia; human rights and civil affairs officers in South Sudan working with the government, civil society and church and traditional leaders to help prevent inter-communal violence.

UN Peacekeepers help keep and build the peace in many ways.

Just as the Secretary-General highlighted the appreciation of young people around the world for the courageous work of UN Peacekeepers, we recall the hopes of young people in each of the countries where peacekeepers are deployed. Young people hope to live in peace, for education and jobs and a life where they can realise their full potential without fear of armed conflict and violence.

This is why our peacekeepers are on the frontline every day.

I thank each and every individual peacekeeper serving today for their efforts. And I thank the Member States who generously provide troops and police, and those who provide resources, funding and training.

Peacekeeping as a global partnership is the theme of this year’s Peacekeepers’ Day, and our partnership with Member States who support and resource peacekeeping is the critical foundation for our joint efforts.

The best way we can honour our fallen colleagues is by re-committing ourselves to the work of keeping the peace, the work for which they sacrificed their lives. Each day, in every mission and at Headquarters, our military, our police and our civilian peacekeepers give communities the chance to recover from war and to build lasting stability and peace.

Hervé Ladsous

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