The theme for the 2016 International Day of UN Peacekeepers is “Honouring our Heroes.” The Day offers a chance to pay tribute to the Blue Helmets’ invaluable contribution to the work of the Organization and to honour more than 3,400 peacekeepers who have lost their lives serving under the UN flag since 1948, including 128 last year.
Today, more than 124,000 military, police and civilian personnel are deployed in 16 peacekeeping operations on four continents.
In a message to mark the Day, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said: “They manifest the best attributes of global solidarity, courageously serving in dangerous environments to provide security to some of the world’s most vulnerable.”
Since its beginning in 1948, United Nations peacekeeping has evolved into one of the main tools used by the international community to manage complex crises that threaten international peace and security. In this period a total of 71 peacekeeping operations have been established. More than one million military, police and civilian personnel have served as UN peacekeepers.
Over the past year, UN peacekeeping has faced many challenges. It has proven to be dynamic and flexible in its approach which has resulted in protecting populations at risk and advancing peace processes.
In South Sudan, more than 200,000 civilians, who feared for their lives, sought shelter at UN bases. In the Central African Republic, peacekeepers successfully supported landmark presidential and legislative elections that have set the once deeply troubled country on a path to peace and stability. In Mali, our “Blue Helmets” have suffered grave losses that have not deterred them from implementing their mandate. In many countries, peacekeepers have addressed the problems of landmines and explosive remnants of war.
Currently, UN peacekeeping operations receive contributions of military and police personnel from 123 Member States. This impressive number reflects strong global confidence in the value of UN peacekeeping.
While the official International Day of United Nations Peacekeeper’s Day is on 29 May, UN Headquarters in New York will celebrate on 19 May. The Secretary-General will preside over a wreath-laying ceremony in honour of all peacekeepers who have lost their lives while serving under the UN flag. In addition, the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal will be awarded posthumously to the peacekeepers who fell while serving in the cause of peace, during 2015. And the Secretary-General will preside over the inaugural ceremony for the ‘Captain Mbaye Diagne Medal for Exceptional Courage.’