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Secretary-General to Commemorate Fallen Peacekeepers, Honour Kenyan Officer as Gender Advocate, at Headquarters Observance of International Day

25 May 2021

New York Headquarters will observe the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers on Thursday, 27 May.  Secretary-General António Guterres will lay a wreath to honour the more than 4,000 United Nations peacekeepers who have lost their lives since 1948 and preside over a ceremony at which the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal will be awarded posthumously to 129 military, police and civilian peacekeepers from 44 countries, who lost their lives serving under the United Nations flag in 2020 and in the first month of 2021.

The Secretary-General will also award the “2020 Military Gender Advocate of the Year Award” to Major Steplyne Buyaki Nyaboga, a Kenyan military officer who served with the African Union–United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID).  Created in 2016, the Award “recognizes the dedication and effort of an individual peacekeeper in promoting the principles of UN Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) on women, peace and security”.

In a message to mark the Day, the Secretary-General said of the fallen peacekeepers:  “Their service and sacrifices will never be forgotten.”  He further said:  “I express my deep gratitude to the 85,000 civilian, police and military personnel currently deployed in some of the world’s most challenging hotspots to protect the vulnerable and help to build peace.  Despite the restrictions imposed by the pandemic, as well as the risk of infection, these men and women have pursued their mission while also supporting local authorities in the fight against COVID-19.  I offer sincere condolences to the families of peacekeepers who have fallen victim to this terrible disease.”

The theme for this year’s observance is, “The road to a lasting peace:  Leveraging the power of youth for peace and security”.  Tens of thousands of young peacekeepers deployed around the world play a key role in helping United Nations missions implement their mandated activities, with the active participation of young people from host communities.  Across the missions, peacekeepers collaborate with youth to reduce violence and sustain peace, including through disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, and community violence reduction programmes.

Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, said:  “We salute the dedication and bravery of our peacekeepers, who serve and perform admirably in challenging environments only compounded by the ongoing pandemic.  I also honour our young peacekeepers who bring energy and innovation and serve as role models to youth populations working tirelessly to ensure meaningful representation and participation in political processes.”

He added:  “Our peacekeepers deserve our full support, and we must continue to work together to do all we can to improve their safety and security and give them the tools to succeed.”

The International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers was established by the General Assembly in 2002 to pay tribute to all men and women serving in peacekeeping, and to honour the memory of those who have lost their lives in the cause of peace.  The General Assembly designated 29 May as the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers in commemoration of the day in 1948 when the Organization’s first peacekeeping mission, the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), began operations in Palestine.

Since then, more than 1 million women and men have served in 72 United Nations peacekeeping operations, directly impacting millions of people, and saving countless lives.  Today, the United Nations deploys more than 89,000 military, police and civilian personnel in 12 operations.

While the Day will be marked at New York Headquarters on 27 May, United Nations missions and offices around the world will commemorate the Day on 29 May.

Schedule of Events at Headquarters on 27 May

10:00 a.m.:  The Secretary-General will lay a wreath in honour of all fallen peacekeepers at the Peacekeepers Memorial Site on the North Lawn.  Only UN Photo and UN TV will cover the ceremony.

10:30 a.m.:  The Dag Hammarskjöld Medal and Military Gender Advocate of the Year award ceremonies will be held virtually and shown live on UN Webcast:  webtv.un.org/.

11:45 a.m.:  Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix will be the guest at the noon briefing.  It will be webcast live at webtv.un.org/.

Media Contacts

Douglas Coffman, Department of Global Communications tel.:  +1 917 361 9923, email: coffmand@un.org; Hector Calderon, Department of Peace Operations, tel.:  +1 917 226 5219, email:  hector.calderon@un.org.

For more information, please visit the Peacekeepers Day website here:  www.un.org/en/events/peacekeepersday.

Follow UN Peacekeeping on TikTok, TwitterFacebook and Instagram using the hashtags #PKday and #youthpeacesecurity.