New York

21 January 2013

Secretary-General's remarks at exhibit celebrating 52 years of Pakistan's participation in United Nations peackeeping [as prepared for delivery]

Thank you very much. I am honoured to join you in celebrating more than half a century of Pakistan’s remarkable contribution to UN peacekeeping.

I have personally met brave Pakistani men and women who serve proudly in some of our toughest missions around the world. They are truly an inspiration.

Pakistan provides essential “boots on the ground” – and also “brains on the issues.” As Chair of the Security Council this month, Pakistan has initiated in-depth discussions about the problems we face – and the solutions we need in today’s complex world.

This wonderful exhibition reminds us that peacekeeping is more than mandates and missions – it is our collective promise to help families and communities suffering from war.

This is what our nearly 94,000 uniformed peacekeepers do each day in 15 different missions on four continents.

The world has great faith in these blue helmets. Countries are entrusting us with more and more challenging tasks. That is why we need highly trained and well-equipped personnel. We need more men – and especially more women – who can bravely go into dangerous situations to bring relief to civilians.

As Secretary-General, I can count on Pakistan to help staff our missions. Since its first deployment to Congo a half century ago, Pakistan has sent troops to 33 former missions. Today, almost 9,000 Pakistani uniformed personnel serve in six missions. The United Nations is deeply grateful for their contributions.

Pakistan’s historic commitment to peacekeeping has taken a heavy toll. One hundred and thirty-two Pakistanis have lost their lives while serving the UN. We owe them a great debt of gratitude.

These photographs document a proud legacy of success.

I could cite many examples but let me just share one from eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. When the M23 rebel group captured Goma in November, the Pakistani Brigade established strong defensive positions to block a possible spillover to South Kivu. They reinforced the operating bases for the Congolese armed forces who could no longer protect the local population. Thanks to our Pakistani blue helmets, the main roads stayed open and many civilians were spared.

I am honoured that we are joined by Ms. Gulfam, who received the UN’s first International Female Peacekeeper of the Year Award for her service in different United Nations missions around the world.

She once said, “My motivation to undertake a peacekeeping mission stems from the desire to bring about change in the lives of others, and to put a smile on the faces of people who have gone through so much pain.”

Ms. Gulfam is an excellent example of Pakistan’s spirit of service – and she is a true global citizen.

I hope many people will be inspired by this spirit, which is captured in these moving photographs.

Thank you.