29 May, the marking of Internatioal Peacekeepers' Day
In a short but moving ceremony on 29 May, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) commemorated the International Day of UN Peacekeepers in Shanghai, China at the UN Pavilion in the International Exposition.
The high-profile commemoration included Chinese authorities and Commissioner Generals from many of the UN Member State Pavilions at the Exposition,taking place from1 May to31 October.
Dmitry Titov, the Assistant Secretary-General heading the Office of Rule of Law and Security Institutions, led a DPKO delegation that included Brigadier General Jean Baillaud, the Chief of Staff of the Office of Military Affairs, Lt. Colonel Xuqiang Qiu also from the Office of Military Affairs, Maxwell Kerley, the Director of Mine Action Services and Dongxu Su, a police officer working in the DPKO Police Division.
The Chinese Government delegation was lead by M. Sanhu Chen, who is the Deputy Director General of the Ministry of Public Security, nine high level police officers who were former peacekeepers, Senior Colonel Yanwei Kui, the Deputy Director of Peacekeeping Affairs at the Ministry of Defence, who was accompanied by Lt. Colonel Zhe Zhou and Mr. Cong Wang, who represented the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Dr. Awni Behnam, the Commissioner General of the UN Pavilion, presided over the ceremony.
Speaking from a stage with a blue helmet surrounded by 218 individual vases and lilies representing the fallen peacekeepers, M. Chen highlighted the importance of peacekeeping and the increasing commitment to it by the Chinese Government.
He welcomed the DPKO delegation and expressed his appreciation that in 2010 an official UN ceremony was taking place in China. M. Chen led the Chinese delegation in part because of the fact that amongst the 218 peacekeepers who died over the last year there are four Chinese police officers.
A message from Secretary-General BAN Ki-moon translated into Chinese began the UN interventions which were followed by ASG Titov, who commemorated the peacekeepers who had died, brought attention to the important work that peacekeepers are doing today and highlighted the participation of China.
"Since we are commemorating this Day in Shanghai, I wish to particularly highlight the People’s Republic of China’s important and growing contribution to peacekeeping. China actively participates in all aspects of the creation of mandates for peacekeeping operations. Among other things, it also provides generous humanitarian support and economic assistance to the nations in need, reinforcing the credibility of the international community’s efforts."
Brigadier General Baillaud highlighted the peacekeepers who have died since 1948 and described the innovative role that peacekeeping continues to fulfil. Maxwell Kerley read the 55 country names and numbers of peacekeepers who died in each. The Director of the Brazilian Pavilion at the Expo, Pedro Wendler, made a statement on behalf of Brazil to commemorate the 21 Brazilian peacekeepers (the largest number from one country) who had lost their lives in peacekeeping operations over the last year.
At the end of the ceremony Mr. Titov handed the four Dag Hammarskjöld Medals for the police officers who had died in the earthquake in Haiti, to M. Chen and then a UN peacekeeping soldier and police officer set a wreath in the centre of the stage, and saluted while the audience recognised a moment of silence.
The commemoration of UN Peacekeepers Day kicked off a week from 29 May to 5 June at the UN Pavilion dedicated to peacekeeping, one of the most popular UN activities in China. The Office of Military Affairs and the Mine Action Service are holding daily events throughout this week.
The Department of Public Information and DPKO created a photo exhibition for the week, and three films were dubbed into Chinese to be played throughout the week.
The UN Pavilion represents 45 UN agencies and programmes and will be visited by the Secretary-General in October. Approximately 10,000 people visit the Pavilion each day.
On Peacekeepers Day the 200,000th visitor to the UN Pavilion was recorded.