The 80,000 United Nations peacekeepers currently serving around the world, along with their 115 comrades who lost their lives in the course of duty in 2004, were honoured today at UN Headquarters in New York to mark the International Day of UN Peacekeepers. UNTV / FILE
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27 May 2005, New York City

1. Wide shot, exterior, UN headquarters
2. Wide shot, auditorium
3. Med shot, man in uniform walking upstairs
4. SOUNDBITE (English) Jane Holl Lute, Assistant Secretary General, Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) , Office of Mission Support (OMS):
"One hundred and sixteen of our colleagues, friends, and loved one form thirty nine countries lost their lives while in the service of UN Peacekeeping operations around the world during 2004. During 2005, already, thirty nine colleagues have perished. We especially remember fourteen Pakistani soldiers and the soldiers form Bangladesh who was killed in a helicopter crash in Sierra Leone on June 29 of last year together with the Russian crew and two Congolese civilians. We remember also, the nine Bangladeshis' who were brutally murdered earlier this year. We remember all of them, because while deaths occur in their number --- soldiers, civilians, police -- peacekeepers die one at a time."


5. Various shots, Peacekeepers in field DR Congo

27 May 2005, New York City

6. Med shot, Bangladesh receiving medal for fallen Peacekeepers
7. Med shot, Afghanistan receiving medal for fallen Peacekeepers
8. Med shot, China receiving medal for fallen Peacekeepers

FILE - UNTV - Chinese Peacekeepers, Liberia

9. Various shots, Chinese Peacekeepers training exercises in Liberia

27 May 2005, New York City

10. Wide shot, Peacekeepers standing at attention at medal ceremony
11. Close up, UN flag
12. Med shot, Jane Holl Lute walking up to pin medals on Peacekeepers
13. Zoom out, Peacekeepers
14. Wide shot, Peacekeepers standing at attention
This year's observance on 29 May of the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers comes as the demands on United Nations peacekeeping have stretched capacity to the limits.

New complex and multidimensional operations, massive deployments of military and civilian personnel and charges of sexual exploitation and abuse have challenged the Organization as never before. But the surge in demand clearly demonstrates that countries emerging from conflicts need United Nations assistance and reflects the confidence of Member States in United Nations peacekeeping as the right tool to handle these difficult tasks.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan marked the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers today; by stressing that the importance of the work of the more than 66,000 military and 15,000 civilian peacekeepers was as great as ever before.

In a written message, the Secretary General said, "UN peacekeepers work every day to give practical meaning to the words of the United Nations Charter, 'To save succeeding generations from the scourge of war."

In observance of the Day, which officially falls on Sunday, 29 May, a posthumous medal ceremony was held at UN Headquarters in New York to remember those who lost their lives in the line of duty last year. to honour those 85 military personnel, 8 police officers and 22 civilians who died in the course of their duties during the year 2004.

Jane Holl Lute, Assistant Secretary General for Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) recalled the fallen Peacekeepers at the ceremony.

Later in the day, there a medal parade was held at which the military and civilian police officers seconded for service within the Department of Peacekeeping Operations l received United Nations service medals. The United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations is currently directing and supporting 17 operations.

Nearly 82,000 personnel are deployed in these missions -- some 66,000 uniformed personnel, over 6,300 international civilian personnel (including almost 1,800 United Nations Volunteers), and 8,500 local staff, representing a net increase of about 48 per cent over the past year. The annual cost of peacekeeping operations in 2005/2006 could reach an unprecedented level of almost $5 billion. In the past 12 months, the Security Council established large new operations in Haiti (MINUSTAH), Burundi (ONUB) and Cote d'Ivoire (UNOCI), and further expanded the mandate of the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC).

In early May, the first group of United Nations peacekeepers began deploying to the newest operation, the United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS); where 10,000 "blue helmets" are expected to support the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended the Sudan's 21-year civil war. Allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse by United Nations personnel have left a stain on the reputation of United Nations peacekeeping.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan has initiated wide-ranging reforms covering standards of conduct; investigations; organizational, managerial and command responsibility; and individual disciplinary, financial and criminal accountability.

The Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping, Jean-Marie Guehenno, has reiterated that the Department of Peacekeeping Operations is committed to putting in place the changes required. And peacekeeping operations themselves have adopted a wide array of measures to prevent misconduct and enforce United Nations standards of conduct. At United Nations Headquarters, a task force is developing guidance and tools to assist peacekeeping operations to address sexual exploitation and abuse.

The Secretary General also mentioned that Member States who contribute peacekeeping troops, particularly Pakistan, Bangladesh and India together provided more than one-third of troops. In noting that Brazil and China were taking on new responsibilities, he hoped that other countries - particularly developed countries - would increase their contributions to peacekeeping as well.