The International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers honors the more than one million women and men who have served on the frontlines of conflict and the more than 4,000 who have lost their lives in the line of duty. Their service and sacrifices will never be forgotten.
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.
This year’s observance focuses on the central question of youth, peace and security. In every country where our peacekeepers work, peace can only be achieved with the active participation of young people. The world needs to do far more to address their needs, amplify their voices and ensure their presence at decision-making tables.
Our Missions play an important role in protecting and supporting young people, in particular young women and girls, to reduce violence and sustain peace. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, MONUSCO is working with youth who are vulnerable to recruitment by armed groups, to provide viable and sustainable alternatives to violence. In South Sudan, the inclusion of youth groups in peace processes has helped strengthen relations between subnational and national actors. In the Central African Republic and in Mali, MINUSCA and MINUSMA have worked closely with youth representatives to increase voter turnout in recent elections.
One of our greatest strengths is our own young peacekeepers, in particular young women peacekeepers who contribute every day to debunking deeply entrenched gendered stereotypes and inspire young women and girls to seek non-traditional paths and opportunities.
United Nations peacekeeping helps nurture peace in some of the world’s most dangerous places. Today and every day, we salute the dedication and bravery of our peacekeepers in helping societies turn away from war and towards a safer, more stable future.