This year’s Annual Memorial Service was held on 26 October 2016 to honour all United Nations personnel who lost their lives in the line of duty in the period 1 January 2015 to 30 June 2016. The event was broadcast on UN WebTV.
Serving the cause of peace in a violent world is a dangerous occupation. Since the founding of the United Nations, hundreds of brave men and women have lost their lives in its service.
Ole Bakke, a Norwegian serving in Palestine, was the first – gunned down in July 1948. Count Folke Bernadotte of Sweden, UN Mediator in Palestine, was the second – assassinated two months later.
The UN’s leadership was cut down in 1961, when Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld, along with 15 others, died in a plane crash in the Congo while seeking peace.
Three decades later, the growing number and scale of UN peacekeeping missions put many more at risk. More lives were lost during the 1990s than in the previous 4 decades combined.
In the last decade, the UN itself became a target: its premises attacked in Baghdad in 2003, Algiers in 2007, and Kabul in 2009.
“At the outset of my tenure, let me assure you that I attach the highest importance to ensuring that UN staff have the safety and security they need to carry out their vital missions. ...
Effective security management, responsive and accountable, cannot be an afterthought or be short-changed in our budgeting. It is a core aspect of our global operations, which we must always strive to improve.”
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
in a message to the Seventh Summit on the Safety
and Security of UN Staff and Associated Personnel
16 January 2007
Natural disasters also claim the lives of those serving the UN. The Haiti earthquake in 2010 resulted in 102 deaths, the largest single loss in its history.
Here we remember those often forgotten – those who have died in the service of the United Nations – the fallen.