On 06 June, MINURSO celebrated Sweden’s National Day by raising the national flag at the Mission headquarters in Laayoune next to the UN flag. On this day, Sweden commemorates the election of King Gustav Vasa on 6 June 1523—the day considered the foundation of modern Sweden.
Sweden was an original contributor to UN peacekeeping operations, with their first personnel deploying in 1948. Since then, more than 80,000 Swedish women and men have participated in different peacekeeping missions worldwide including MINURSO. Swedish economist and diplomat Dag Hammarskjöld, who served as the Organization’s second Secretary-General lost his life while on a peace mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the posthumous award given to all peacekeepers who paid the ultimate price while serving under the blue flag bears his name to this day.
Women have always played an important role in Swedish UN peacekeeping deployments. Twelve women from an infantry battalion, were the first female peacekeepers to join the UN’s mission in Cyprus, UNFICYP, in 1979.
Blue and yellow (gold) have always been the traditional Swedish colors. The colors stem from the shield that features on the national coat of arms (three golden crowns on a blue background) and the golden cross on the “Great National Coat of Arms”.