Please join me in observing a moment of silence in honour of the peacekeepers who have lost their lives while in service to the United Nations.
[PAUSE FOR ONE MINUTE]
Today we honour the 112 fallen heroes who died while serving under the United Nations flag in 2011.
They may be soldiers, police or national staff. But there are no differences among them in terms of the risks they faced … the contributions they made … and the pride they took in their service to the United Nations.
The difference between an ordinary person and a hero is that the hero voluntarily braves danger to save others.
Among the heroes whose lives we remember today were the victims of one of the most atrocious attacks on United Nations peacekeepers in recent memory.
On April 1, 2011, mobs stormed our premises in Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan and brutally murdered three of our staff and four security officers there.
Our staff went to Afghanistan to bring peace. It is outrageous that they died from such senseless violence.
We must do everything possible to get justice for the victims.
At the same time, we can never retreat. In the face of mob violence, landmines and ambushes, we stay for the civilians who want and deserve peace.
Today we also thank the 120,000 UN peacekeepers who are out there … right now … getting aid to people in crisis, reuniting families torn by war, and helping develop sustainable rule of law and security sector institutions.
I have seen the dedication of peacekeepers in missions and in training centres. I am always impressed by the women and men who do their best to serve the cause of peace.
Our goal in peacekeeping is to bring lasting stability to troubled areas so that blue helmets are no longer needed. We would like to put ourselves out of business.
But until that day comes, we stand ready to help, carrying on the work of those we remember today.
And I thank you very much.