New York

24 November 2020

Secretary-General's message to the 18th Conference of the Heads of Military Components

I send my warmest greetings to this eighteenth conference of the Heads of United Nations Military Components.

I would like to thank you personally and, through you, the women and men who serve with honour in peacekeeping operations, for their personal sacrifices and for the contributions they make every day to international peace and security.

Today, our peacekeeping operations face the challenging context of the COVID-19 pandemic. I send my deepest condolences to those of you who have lost loved ones and members of your contingents during this crisis. 

While this is first and foremost a health crisis, its implications are far-reaching.

From mitigating the spread of the virus, to providing continued protection to vulnerable people and communities, and supporting host countries in their fight against the pandemic, United Nations peacekeeping operations have confronted a host of new challenges.

Your dedication and hard work have been critical to ensuring that your missions continue to implement their mandates, protect civilians and support political processes.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also deepened existing inequalities, including gender inequality. This makes the Women, Peace and Security agenda more important than ever. I count on your continued efforts to enhance the role of women in political processes and increase the number of women peacekeepers.

Looking ahead, the Action for Peacekeeping initiative will be instrumental to address the challenges peacekeeping faces, including due to COVID-19. Agile, responsive missions will remain crucial to our overall effort to enhance performance.

I hope this year’s conference will be an important opportunity to share insights and lessons learned during this difficult year. I trust that your exchanges with United Nations Headquarters colleagues and representatives from Member States, as well as between yourselves, will provide ideas that can help shape the way forward.

I thank you for your professionalism, your leadership and your commitment to the work of the United Nations and the cause of peace.

I send you my best wishes for a fruitful conference.

Thank you.