[Watch the video on webtv.un.org]
Fifty-eight years ago, Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld died in a plane crash in the Congo while trying to broker a peace agreement to end the conflict in the country.
He was a tireless and fearless champion of peace.
A believer in diplomacy and preventive measures as well as in taking robust action when needed.
His death continues to resonate, and his legacy lives on in the countries where the United Nations is called on to maintain and promote peace.
Today, we honour 119 brave men and women who, like my esteemed predecessor, lost their lives while serving the United Nations.
They were military and police personnel, international civil servants, national staff, and UN Volunteers.
They came from 38 different countries and served in 12 different UN peace operations around the world.
Hailing from different backgrounds, our fallen heroes were united in their efforts to help the UN attain its most important objective – to save further generations from the scourge of war.
The medal we posthumously honour them with bears the name of Secretary-General Hammarskjold.
It is inscribed with his name as well their own – forever linking them in our hearts and in our memories.
As Secretary-General Hammarskjold so elegantly said: “The pursuit of peace and progress, with its trials and its errors, its successes and its setbacks, can never be relaxed and never abandoned.”
Today, as we honour our fallen colleagues with the Dag Hammarskjold medal, let us also honour them by living up to his call to never abandon the pursuit of peace.
I offer my highest tribute to those we remember here today, and my sincerest condolences to their loved ones left behind.
And I ask you all please to join me in a moment of silence.