He said serving men and women, from 125 countries, in 12 operations, worked to support security, stability and the rule of law.

“They represent pounding heart of the UN’s commitment to peace,” said Secretary-General António Guterres.

“By bringing together peacekeeping forces from around the world, peacekeeping has also become one inspiring symbol of multilateralism in action,” he added, just before presenting the prestigious UN Military Equality Advocate award to a Ghanaian peacekeeper, inside the gilded General Assembly Hall in New York.

But thanks to the increasing complexity of conflict, stagnant peace processes, the steady pace of terrorist activity, armed militias, gang violence and transnational crime, societies, countries and entire regions are increasingly poisoned, he said.

Increasingly “no peace to keep”

“And the digital world has become a terrifying frontier of tension, division, hatred and misinformation.

Unfortunately, our peacekeepers are increasingly working in places where there is no peace to keep.”

He urged governments represented in the room to “seriously reflect on the need for a a new generation of peacekeeping missions and counter-terrorism operations”, guided by the mandate of the Security Council under Chapter VII i UN Charterwhich could rely on a guaranteed funding stream.

Before the solemn but poignant ceremony, the UN chief laid a wreath at the Peacekeepers Memorial, honoring the sacrifice made by all who served under the UN flag.

“We mourn their loss and share our deepest sympathies with their families, friends and colleagues. We will never forget their contribution,” he said before leading a moment of silence.

The list of those who died in service last year was read, on this 75th anniversary of UN peacekeeping operations, with more than 4,200 killed in total, in the cause of peace.

Embodying “duty to peace”

“Our fallen military, police and civilian personnel came from 39 different countries with different backgrounds. But all embodied our duty to peace”, Mr Guterres said. “I express my deepest condolences and gratitude to their families, friends, colleagues and homelands represented here.

“I salute their service and sacrifice, which inspires our work every day. And I commit to doing everything we can to support our peacekeeping forces in its mission, including improving their safety and security and the effectiveness of peacekeeping through the Action for Peacekeeping Plus strategy.”

Women “show the way”

Pay tribute to the landmark Safety advice resolution 1325 on women, peace and security, the UN chief said it reminds “that our female peacekeepers not only support global peace and security.

“They lead the way.”

The winner of this year’s Military Gender Advocate Award, Captain Cecilia Erzuah in Ghana, embodies leadership in every way, and the principles behind resolution 1325, he said, for her work in Abyei as commander of the Ghana engagement platoon since last March.

“In Abyei, she saw firsthand the enormous toll of armed conflict on entire communities – especially women – and she spared no effort to ensure that their voices were heard and reflected,” he added.

Her work in reaching out to local communities to hear their concerns, explaining the work of peacekeepers and building trust, as well as engaging with local leadership, women and youth, “has been crucial to the mission’s success.”

He said it was “high time” to significantly increase the number of women working in UN peacekeeping missions everywhere.

“Long live the United Nations”

In his remarks at the ceremony, Cpt. Erzuah, said she was honored to receive the award and said that “underscoring the tireless efforts and dedication of her entire platoon, towards equality and inclusion.

The disputed region of Abyei between Sudan and South Sudan has had a UN peacekeeping presence since 2011, where UNIFSA the security force works to strengthen police capacity, protect civilians under threat, and assist with humanitarian aid and the free movement of aid workers.

She said her platoon’s work had led to an increase in the number of women joining local, male-dominated community protection committees.

Capt. Erzuah dedicated her award to “the beautiful people of Abyei” whose memory she would always cherish, and “to all peacekeeping personnel, especially us women in uniform.

May our dedication, commitment and love for humanity never go unrewarded. Long live the United Nations.”

Civilian crashed

The head of operational support, Atul Khare, accepted a medal on behalf of the families of 42 civilian peacekeeperswho have “paid the ultimate sacrifice”, from 20 Member States.

He said the best way to honor their memories was to “rededicate ourselves and our efforts to the cause of peace.”