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DAG HAMMARSKJÖLD MEDAL

UNITED STATES MISSION TO THE UNITED NATIONS

799 United Nations Plaza
New York, N.Y. 10017

PRESS RELEASE USUN PRESS RELEASE #134-(97)
JULY 22, 1997

Statement by Ambassador Karl F. Inderfurth, United States Representative for Special Political Affairs, on the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal.

Today the United Nations Security Council approved a resolution establishing the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal. This medal recognizes and remembers all of the men and women, both military and civilian, who have lost their lives while serving in United Nations peacekeeping operations. The Security Council has the responsibility of addressing conflicts throughout the world, and, when appropriate, deciding to deploy men and women in harms way. It is therefore appropriate that the Security Council has taken this action to honor those men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of peace.

The Dag Hammarskjöld Medal is named for the second Secretary-General of the United Nations who lost his life in a plane crash in 1961 while in the service of peace in the Congo. The Dag Hammarskjöld Medal, proposed by the United States, is the first such distinct medal to honor the sacrifice of men and women who gave their lives while serving with United Nations peacekeeping operations. The Dag Hammarskjöld Medal signifies to the individual's family and nation, and to all other participants in UN peacekeeping operations, that the community of nations honors and remembers the men and women who have made this ultimate sacrifice.

Within months of the establishment of the first United Nations peacekeeping operation in 1948, the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization, Mr. Rene DeLabarrier, a peacekeeper from France, was killed by a mine. Since then, over 1500 men and women from 85 nations have died while serving in United Nations peacekeeping operations. All will be honoured by the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal. Death has come in many ways to United Nations peacekeepers -- by hostile acts, by disease, by accidents, by landmines, by terrorists. Most recently two Austrian soldiers were murdered -- shot to death -- while serving with the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force in the Golan Heights. Only last month an American civilian police monitor died of illness while serving in the United Nations Support Mission in Haiti.

Today’s Security Council resolution also notes that in 1988 United Nations peacekeepers were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 40 years of peacekeeping throughout the world. The Nobel selection committee commented that “young people of many nations…voluntarily take on [this] demanding and hazardous service in the cause of peace.” As the United Nations approaches the fiftieth anniversary of peacekeeping operations in September 1998, the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal will be in place as an enduring memorial and tribute to then men and women who gave their lives in the service of the international community, as United Nations peacekeepers

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