The annual International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers was observed by the organisation’s New York Headquarters in a ceremony on the 24th of May.

 

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres presided over the event, awarding the posthumous Dag Hammarskjöld Medal to the 117 military, police and civilian personnel killed whilst on peacekeeping operations in 2016.

Antonio Guterres said: ‘Every day, peacekeepers help bring peace and stability to war-torn societies around the world, we pay tribute to the more than 3,500 peacekeepers who have given their lives in the service of peace since 1948’.

Guterres added: ‘Their sacrifice only strengthens our commitment to ensuring that peacekeepers continue protecting civilians in harm’s way, promoting human rights and the rule of law. Now, more than ever, it is essential that we continue investing in peace around the world’.

Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, said: ‘We pay our greatest respects to the committed and courageous peacekeepers who are no longer with us today. I offer my deepest and most sincere condolences to the families of those we honour and to the bereaved’.

At present, more than 96,000 uniformed personnel from 124 contributing nations are serving under the U.N flag. Alongside these there are over 15,000 civilian staff and 1,600 volunteers.

The annual ceremony was established by the U.N. General Assembly in 2002, paying homage to those currently serving, and keeping alive the memory of those who died on duty.

Whilst the day will be observed in New York on the 24th of May, United Nations peacekeeping operations and offices around the world commemorated the event on the 29th of May.

The 29th of May is the date of the organisation’s first peacekeeping mission in Palestine, in 1948.