Today we honor more than one million men and women who have served as United Nations peacekeepers since our first mission in 1948. We remember the more than 3,800 personnel who paid the ultimate price. And we express our deepest gratitude to the 100,000 civilian, police and military peacekeepers deployed around the world today, and to the countries that contribute these brave and dedicated women and men.
This year, the United Nations marks 20 years since the Security Council first mandated a peacekeeping mission to protect civilians. Peacekeepers protect men, women, and children from violence every day, often at great personal risk. In that same spirit, on this International Day, the Captain Mbaye Diagne Medal for Exceptional Courage is being awarded for the first time. We pay tribute to Private Chancy CHITETE, a Malawian who served in the Democratic Republic of Congo and died trying to save the life of a fellow peacekeeper.
UN peacekeeping is a vital investment in global peace and security. But it requires strong international commitment. That is why we launched the “Action for Peacekeeping” initiative, which aims to make our missions stronger, safer and fit for the future. For millions in conflict-affected situations around the world, peacekeeping is a necessity and hope. Let us work together to make peacekeeping more effective in protecting people and advancing peace.