SECURITY COUNCIL ESTABLISHES DAG HAMMARSKJ+LD MEDAL FOR VALOUR, SACRIFICE OF UNITED NATIONS PEACE-KEEPERS

22 July 1997
SC/6398

SECURITY COUNCIL ESTABLISHES DAG HAMMARSKJ+LD MEDAL FOR VALOUR, SACRIFICE OF UNITED NATIONS PEACE-KEEPERS

22 July 1997

Press ReleaseSC/6398

SECURITY COUNCIL ESTABLISHES DAG HAMMARSKJÖLD MEDAL FOR VALOUR, SACRIFICE OF UNITED NATIONS PEACE-KEEPERS

19970722 Kofi Annan Says Medal Will Honour Those Who Died Serving under UN Flag; Council President Cites Hammarskjöld's Role in United Nations Search for Peace

The Security Council this afternoon established the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal as a tribute to the more than 1,500 persons from 85 countries who lost their lives while serving in United Nations peace-keeping operations.

Adopting resolution 1121 (1997) without a vote, the Council asked the Secretary-General to establish criteria and procedures for bestowing and administering the Medal. Members States were asked to cooperate with its presentation.

Speaking before the Council action, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said more than 750,000 women and men -- military, police and civilians -- from 110 countries had served in the United Nations peace-keeping operations. The Dag Hammarskjöld Medal would honour the lives of those who had died serving under the United Nations flag.

"If anything, this recognition of their valour and sacrifice, in the light of the ever-greater challenges that peace-keepers face, is overdue", Mr. Annan added.

The Council President, Peter Osvald (Sweden), said the Medal was named after Mr. Hammarskjöld, the second United Nations Secretary-General, who had helped develop the concept of peace-keeping operations and died on a mission to one of the countries in which the Organization had tried to build peace. Mr. Hammarskjöld had once written: "No life was more satisfying than one of selfless service to your country -- or humanity. This service required a sacrifice of all personal interests, but likewise the courage to stand up unflinchingly for your convictions."

As they honoured those who died in peace-keeping, Mr. Osvald continued, Council members must never forget their responsibility towards those participating in the missions they established. The Council must ensure the proper discharge of its mandates and enhance the safety and security of those serving in conflicts.

A minute of silence was observed by the Council in memory of all those who had lost their lives while serving in peace-keeping operations under United Nations auspices.

The meeting began at 3:34 p.m. and adjourned at 3:42 p.m.

Resolution Adopted

The resolution adopted by the Council reads as follows:

"The Security Council,

"Recalling that maintenance of international peace and security is one of the purposes of the United Nations as set forth in the Charter,

"Noting the essential role of United Nations peace-keeping operations in the maintenance of international peace and security,

"Recalling also the presentation in 1988 of the Nobel Peace Prize to United Nations peace-keeping forces,

"Recognizing the sacrifice of those who have lost their life in the service of United Nations peace-keeping operations,

"Remembering the more than 1,500 individuals from 85 countries who have died in United Nations peace-keeping operations,

"1. Decides to establish the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal as a tribute to the sacrifice of those who have lost their life as a result of service in peace- keeping operations under the operational control and authority of the United Nations;

"2, Requests the Secretary-General to establish, in consultation with the Security Council, criteria and procedures for bestowing and administering this Medal;

"3. Requests Member States to cooperate, as appropriate, with the presentation of this Medal."

Statement by Secretary-General

Secretary-General KOFI ANNAN said the resolution provided a sympathetic way of honouring those men and women, military and civilian, including United Nations Volunteers, who had lost their lives while serving in United Nations peace-keeping operations. "If anything, this recognition of their valour and sacrifice, in the light of the ever-greater challenges that peace-keepers face, is overdue", he stated.

Security Council - 3 - Press Release SC/6398 3802nd Meeting (PM) 22 July 1997

Since the Blue Helmets were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1988, he continued, there had been qualitative and quantitative changes in peace- keeping operations. In 1988, five operations existed, four related to inter- State wars and one concerned with an intra-State conflict. In the next four years, 21 new operations were created, eight dealing with inter-State wars and 13 related to intra-State conflicts.

United Nations peace-keepers had been called upon to perform new tasks, placing them in situations with no peace to keep, he said. They had been confronted by a greater range of risks and had carried out their tasks with sensitivity and bravery. But their efforts had not always been fully acknowledged. There had been setbacks, which some had been quick to criticize. "The shrill voices of those who sat in their armchairs and did nothing else, but complain that the peace-keepers were not doing enough, became familiar", he said.

More than 750,000 women and men -- military, police and civilians -- from 110 countries had taken part in the United Nations peace-keeping operations over the years, Mr. Annan said. The Dag Hammarskjöld Medal would honour the lives of those -- more than 1,500 -- who had paid the ultimate price while serving under the United Nations flag. It would also honour the memory of a Secretary-General who had lost his life in the cause of peace.

Statement by Council President

Speaking on behalf of Council members, its President, PETER OSVALD (Sweden), said that for nearly half a century the lives, security and future of countless individuals across the globe had depended on United Nations peace-keeping efforts, and on the peace-keepers participating in them. Over 750,000 men and women had served in United Nations peace-keeping operations; more than 1,500 had lost their lives and many more had been wounded.

The solemn meeting of the Council was held in tribute to their service and sacrifice, he said. The Dag Hammarskjöld Medal was being established in recognition and commemoration of those who had lost their lives as a result of service in peace-keeping operations under the United Nations. The medal was named after Mr. Hammarskjöld, the second Secretary-General of the Organization, who had greatly contributed to the development of the concept of peace-keeping operations, whose own commitment to the cause of peace-keeping had been unwavering and who had lost his life while on mission to one of the many countries in which the United Nations had tried to build peace.

He said that members of the Council, as they honoured those who died in United Nations peace-keeping operations, must never forget their own responsibility towards those participating in the operations whose mandates they had established. The Security Council must continue to ensure the proper

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discharge of its mandates and take every possible measure to enhance the safety and security of all those serving in conflict situations. That was owed to those men and women who were prepared to risk their lives for peace.

He recalled that Mr. Hammarskjöld had once written: "No life was more satisfying than one of selfless service to your country -- or humanity. This service required a sacrifice of all personal interests, but likewise the courage to stand up unflinchingly for your convictions." Mr. Hammarskjöld's life and death were, perhaps, a fitting symbol of what the Security Council honoured today: commitment, service and sacrifice.

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For information media. Not an official record.