This day the world community is observing the fifth annual International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers established in 2002 by the General Assembly resolution to pay tribute to people serving in UN peacekeeping operations, according to the UN Office to Ukraine.

      At United Nations Headquarters in New York, the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon delivered his statement on the observance of the International Day of UN Peacekeepers and informed that there are currently more than 100,000 peacekeepers from 115 countries serving in 18 operations on four continents. He asked for the troop-contributing countries to sustain their support and called the Security Council to “always give peacekeepers the mandate and tools they need to do their jobs”. Full statement of the UN Secretary General (English).

      The background note on the current UN peacekeeping operations as of 30 April 2007 is available here.

      In Ukraine, a series of events were initiated and organized by the Ukrainian Peacekeepers Association with support of the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the UN office in Ukraine to observe the fifth International Day of UN peacekeepers and the 15th anniversary of Ukraine’s participation in UN peacekeeping operations.

      This morning in Kyiv the representatives of the Ukrainian government, UN office in Ukraine, local and international associations of peacekeepers took part in the ceremony of wreaths-laying in the UN alley of the Staronovodnitsky park to honour memory of those who have lost their lives in the cause of peace. Later this day, the international conference “Peacekeeping and Peacekeepers of XXI century” was opened with participation of the representatives of the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine, the United Nations office in Ukraine, the Soldiers of Peace International Association, International Antiterrorism Unity, as well as peacekeepers from different countries.

      On behalf of the United Nations in Ukraine, Mr. Jeremy Hartely UN Resident Coordinator a.i. welcomed the participants of the conference and stated "The demands for UN intervention grow in both size and scope as the UN peacekeeping is widely acknowledged as an indispensable tool in tackling the difficult issues of inter-State and intra-State conflicts". Mr. Hartely highlighted that as an active co-founder of the United Nations, Ukraine had continually worked to strengthen the UN’s ability to ensure peace and security throughout the history of the organization. “The UN looks forward to partnering with Ukraine and it greatly appreciates Ukraine’s contribution to world peace and security and its commitment to support enhancement of the organization’s peacekeeping potential”, he said.

      Following the official opening, the conference`s participants discussed such issues as UN peacekeeping system reforming, peacekeepers` preparation and training in Ukraine, air support to peacekeeping operations and also shared theexperience on Ukraine’s peacekeepers role in resolving conflicts and ensuring peace in conflict zones worldwide.

      The 15th anniversary of Ukaine`s participation in UN peacekeeping operations will be marked in the regions of Ukraine as well. The exhibition of children’s drawings devoted to the Ukrainian peacekeepers activities was opened on May 29 in Odesa, and the regional meeting of peacekeepers is to take place in Zhytomyr on 30 May 2007.