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22 July 1997 - Press Release SC/6398 (This is an edited version of the original United Nations press release)

Security Council establishes DAG HAMMARSKJÖLD Medal for Valour, Sacrifice of United Nations Peace-keepers

The Security Council this afternoon established the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal as a tribute to the more than 1,500 persons from 85 countries who lost their lives while serving in United Nations peace-keeping operations. Adopting resolution 1121 (1997) without a vote, the Council asked the Secretary-General to establish criteria and procedures for bestowing and administering the Medal. Members States were asked to cooperate with its presentation. Speaking before the Council action, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said more than 750,000 women and men -- military, police and civilians -- from 110 countries had served in the United Nations peace-keeping operations.

The Dag Hammarskjöld Medal would honour the lives of those who had died serving under the United Nations flag. "If anything, this recognition of their valour and sacrifice, in the light of the ever-greater challenges that peace-keepers face, is overdue", Mr. Annan added. The Council President, Peter Osvald (Sweden), said the Medal was named after Mr. Hammarskjöld, the second United Nations Secretary-General, who had helped develop the concept of peace-keeping operations and died on a mission to one of the countries in which the Organization had tried to build peace. Mr. Hammarskjöld had once written: "No life was more satisfying than one of selfless service to your country -- or humanity. This service required a sacrifice of all personal interests, but likewise the courage to stand up unflinchingly for your convictions." As they honoured those who died in peace-keeping, Mr. Osvald continued, Council members must never forget their responsibility towards those participating in the missions they established. The Council must ensure the proper discharge of its mandates and enhance the safety and security of those serving in conflicts. A minute of silence was observed by the Council in memory of all those who had lost their lives while serving in peace-keeping operations under United Nations auspices.

The resolution adopted by the Council reads as follows: "The Security Council, "Recalling that maintenance of international peace and security is one of the purposes of the United Nations as set forth in the Charter, "Noting the essential role of United Nations peace-keeping operations in the maintenance of international peace and security, "Recalling also the presentation in 1988 of the Nobel Peace Prize to United Nations peace-keeping forces, "Recognizing the sacrifice of those who have lost their life in the service of United Nations peace-keeping operations, "Remembering the more than 1,500 individuals from 85 countries who have died in United Nations peace-keeping operations, "1. Decides to establish the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal as a tribute to the sacrifice of those who have lost their life as a result of service in peace- keeping operations under the operational control and authority of the United Nations; "2, Requests the Secretary-General to establish, in consultation with the Security Council, criteria and procedures for bestowing and administering this Medal; "3. Requests Member States to cooperate, as appropriate, with the presentation of this Medal."

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