Under-Secretary-General's Remarks at Dag Hammarskjöld Medal Awards Ceremony to Honour Fallen Peacekeepers, New York, 29 May 2013
It is fitting and proper for me to add my voice to the Secretary-General’s in expressing the deepest condolences of the United Nations to the families of those we mourn – and honour – today.
The Dag Hammarskjöld Medal recognizes the sacrifice of those who have lost their lives in United Nations peacekeeping operations.
Today we honour 111 UN peacekeepers from 40 countries with the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal. Many died as a result of acts of violence. Others were victims of accidents or illness.
Since January of this year, a further 25 colleagues have lost their lives in service.
Allow me to express the deepest admiration and pride that we in the peacekeeping family feel for each and every colleague we have lost.
In addition to the families and loved ones of our fallen colleagues, I would like to express my profound appreciation to our Troop and Police Contributing countries, whose armed forces and police services make UN peacekeeping possible. Each uniformed peacekeeper lost is also a loss to your national services. We honour this sacrifice.
In addition, I would like to note that today Under-Secretary-General Haq will receive the medals on behalf of the families of our fallen civilian colleagues, and her Department will deliver them to the next of kin.
As the Secretary-General highlighted, today’s peacekeepers are deploying to increasingly high-risk environments.
Peacekeepers are usually deployed in countries affected by profound crisis, where a political solution is yet to be found and where insecurity prevails. From Darfur to the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, from the Golan to Mali, our areas of operations are ever more volatile.
We must ensure that they are properly equipped and trained to meet these new challenges, including with modern technology and tools. I thank the Member States who generously provide troops and police, resources and funding, training and equipment. Our partnership must continue to rise to the new challenges we face.
Adapting to new challenges is the theme of this year’s Peacekeepers’ Day. We count on our partners, including Member States, to support and provide the critical resources peacekeeping needs to meet the demands of its time.
The medals you accept on behalf of the families of our fallen colleagues are a small but solid symbol of our deepest sympathies as well as our sincerest gratitude for their sacrifice. As the Secretary-General said, the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal is a symbol of our common resolve in the service of peace.
The best way we can honour our colleagues is by re-dedicating ourselves to the work for which they gave the last full measure of devotion.
I thank each and every individual peacekeeper serving today, at Headquarters and at the frontlines of peacekeeping, for their efforts, dedication and courage.