Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ remarks at the wreath-laying ceremony honouring fallen peacekeepers in New York today:
It is my great honour to lay a wreath here today to honour the brave women and men who have lost their lives while serving under the United Nations flag. As Jean-Pierre Lacroix has said, last year, 117 military, police and civilian peacekeepers from 43 countries have died in service. This means that, since 1948, more than 3,500 peacekeepers have given their lives to rescue other lives. And please join me in a moment of silence as we remember them.
Thank you very much.
I express my deepest sorrow and greatest appreciation to the countries who contributed the troops and police officers that we remember here today. United Nations peacekeeping would not exist without the strong support of Member States and the sacrifice of the uniformed personnel that they so generously provide to us. I, and all of us gathered here, share your nations’ grief.
And most of all, I express my deepest condolences and appreciation to the family members and friends of those who died. Our mission for peace will never succeed without courageous people willing to put their lives on the line, and we owe you an enormous debt.
Today we remember not only our uniformed personnel, but civilian peacekeepers who have fallen — international civil servants, national staff members and United Nations Volunteers. Our missions would not function without their work, and we honour their sacrifice.
Peacekeepers continue to come under attack from armed groups, spoilers and increasingly by terrorists. Rebel attacks in Mali and ambushes in the Central African Republic have killed and wounded our people this year. In South Sudan, peacekeepers have come under fire while trying to protect vulnerable civilians.
But the closure of our operations in Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia over the coming months reminds us that the contributions, investments and sacrifices of our United Nations peacekeepers have contributed to the transformation of these countries from battlefields to peaceful States. And the greatest tribute we can pay to those who have died is to rededicate ourselves to continuing their work to build and maintain peace. They are the best of all of us and we must always pay tribute to their sacrifice that is a demonstration of the courage and generosity that the United Nations needs to present in today’s world.
Thank you very much.