International Day of UN Peacekeepers

by Nathan Jumper

international day of peacekeeping logoUnited Nations Secretary-General Ban-Ki-moon once remarked: “United Nations peacekeeping has given life to the UN Charter’s aim ‘to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security’. Through years of struggle and sacrifice, the iconic Blue Helmet has earned its place as a symbol of hope to millions of people living in war-ravaged lands.”

These words capture the work of an organization that has become one of the main tools in the international pursuit of justice and peace. Since its inception in 1948 the United Nations (UN) has established 70 peacekeeping operations around the globe. Currently, the UN receives contributions of military and police personnel from 122 Member States. This strong global confidence in the mission of the UN has allowed for the some 125,000 women and men currently serving in peacekeeping missions. These dedicated international servants are located in some of the world’s most challenging and austere environments and are mandated with accomplishing increasingly difficult and complex tasks.

From the first UN peacekeeping mission in 1948 until April 2015, 3,358 military, police and civilian personnel have lost their lives. This Friday (May 29th) the United Nations offices, as well as Member States and non-governmental organizations celebrate the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers. This day of remembrance honors these fallen UN peacekeepers who have lost their lives in the cause of peace and pays tribute to all the men and women who have served and continue to serve in UN peacekeeping operations.

At the UN headquarters in New York, Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson will preside over a wreath-laying ceremony that honors all peacekeepers who have lost their lives while serving. The Dag Hammarskjold Medal is awarded posthumously to the peacekeepers who have died during the preceding year. The Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Mr. Herve Ladsous, and the Under-Secretary General for Field Support, Atul Khare, will hold a press conference at 12:00 EST.

This day will be recognized around the globe as well. Various UN peacekeeping operations will mark this day by holding sporting competitions, school and orphanage visits, neighborhood cleanups and other such events in their local communities in order to strengthen bonds with the populations they have been deployed to serve. These events will be shared in online forums through the tag #Together4Peace.

May we honor these fallen peacekeepers by dedicating ourselves to the pursuit of justice and compassion. 

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