On Thursday, the United Nations (UN) held ceremonies at its headquarters in New York to pay tribute to the peacekeepers who have lost their lives while serving under the UN flag. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres laid a wreath at the Peacekeepers Memorial to honor the more than 4,200 UN peacekeepers who have died since 1948.
During a ceremony in the General Assembly Hall, Dag Hammarskjold Medals were posthumously awarded to 103 military, police, and civilian peacekeepers who lost their lives serving under the UN flag in 2022. Guterres praised the peacekeepers as “a beacon of hope and protection” for civilians caught in conflict and as an “inspiring symbol of multilateralism in action.”
The ceremonies were held to observe the International Day of UN Peacekeepers on May 29 and to commemorate the 75th anniversary of UN peacekeeping. Since the first UN peacekeeping mission was established in May 1948, more than two million peacekeepers from 125 countries have served in 71 operations around the world.
Guterres acknowledged the challenges faced by peacekeepers, who are “increasingly working in places where there is no peace to keep.” He pledged that the United Nations will do its utmost to support them, including improving their safety and security and the effectiveness of peacekeeping.
Captain Cecilia Erzuah, a military officer from Ghana who served with the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei, was presented with the 2022 Military Gender Advocate of the Year Award. The award recognizes an individual peacekeeper’s dedication and effort in promoting the principles of UN Security Resolution 1325 on women, peace, and security.
Guterres emphasized that women must play a full part in building and maintaining peace, including as leaders. “It’s up to all of us — governments, communities, and local officials — to ensure that women play their full part,” he said.