Remarks by Jean-Marie Guéhenno, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Dag Hammarskjöld Medal Awards Ceremony
30 May 2007, 10.45 a.m., Library Auditorium
Excellencies, ladies and gentleman,
During the course of the last year, more than a hundred thousand men and women from over one hundred countries contributed their skills and expertise to the cause of UN peacekeeping. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in Liberia, in Haiti, in Sudan and in many other remote and dangerous places, they worked tirelessly, courageously and under very difficult conditions with one aim: to help resolve conflict and pave the way to a lasting peace.
The extraordinary efforts of these UN peacekeepers has come at great cost: 107 of our colleagues and friends from 46 countries lost their lives while in the service of UN peace operations during 2006.
Regardless of their background, the peacekeepers we are honouring today were human beings, like any of us. They had personal lives; they had families; they had dreams and plans for when they returned to their home countries. They put all that on hold and, instead, braved violent and desperate conditions, in countries thousands of miles away from their own, and eventually made the ultimate sacrifice: giving their life in the service of others. We can only grieve with their families and loved ones and be grateful and humbled for their courage and selflessness.
Let us also extend our gratitude to the Member States where these heroes come from. The support your countries have extended to peacekeeping operations of the United Nations bears witness to the great importance the international community attaches to this unique and vital endeavour. It reassures that United Nations peacekeeping remains a powerful expression of the extraordinary vision of international solidarity for peace which was enshrined in the United Nations Charter more than half a century ago. We thank you for that support, as do the many nations that have benefited from the presence of United Nations peacekeepers.
In occasions like this, we realize that remembering our colleagues and friends with gratitude and sorrow might not be enough. I call on you, to work even harder for the cause of peace, to join us in the efforts to rid the word of violent conflict once and for all.
Over 2,000 peacekeepers have given their lives since the inception of UN peacekeeping. As we remember their sacrifice, let us honour their memory by redoubling our efforts to ensure that this noble enterprise succeeds, no matter what the obstacles may be.