Paying tribute to sacrifices, UN marks peacekeepers’ day
Secretary-General Kofi Annan marked the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers today by stressing that the importance of the work of the more than 66,000 military and 15,000 civilian peacekeepers was as great as ever before.
“UN peacekeepers work every day to give practical meaning to the words of the United Nations Charter, ‘To save succeeding generations from the scourge of war,’” he said in a message. “On this day, we honour all who have served and serve today, in the front lines of peace.”
He noted that there were more missions deployed than ever before, and that 115 members of those missions paid the highest price for their dedication to peace in 2004, with 39 more already killed during 2005.
“With sadness and pride, we pay tribute to each and every one of our fallen colleagues,” he said.
The Secretary-General also used the occasion to thank the 103 Member States who contribute peacekeeping troops, acknowledging in particular Pakistan, Bangladesh and India which, he said, together provided more than one-third of troops. In noting that Brazil and China were taking on new responsibilities, he hoped that other countries – particularly developed countries – would increase their contributions to peacekeeping as well.
In observance of the Day, which officially falls on Sunday, 29 May, a posthumous medal ceremony was held at UN Headquarters in New York to remember those who lost their lives in the line of duty last year. There was also a medal parade at which the military and civilian police officers seconded for service within the Department of Peacekeeping Operations received UN service medals.