UNGA adopts by consensus resolution introduced by India to establish memorial wall to honour fallen peacekeepers

United Nations: Modi tweets, “Delighted that the Resolution to establish a new Memorial Wall for fallen Peacekeepers, piloted by India, has been adopted in the UN General Assembly”

BY and | Thursday, 15 June, 2023
United Nations General Assembly hall in New York City (PC: Patrick Gruban)

The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has adopted by consensus a draft resolution piloted by India to establish a memorial wall in the UN headquarters here to honour fallen peacekeepers.

The passage of the resolution in the UNGA on Wednesday with a record 190 co-sponsorships came days ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s official state visit to the United States and his participation in the International Yoga Day celebrations at the United Nations headquarters on June 21.

India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj introduced the draft resolution titled Memorial wall for fallen United Nations peacekeepers’ on Wednesday in the UN General Assembly Hall and it was adopted by consensus.

It welcomed the initiative of member states to “establish at a suitable and prominent place at United Nations Headquarters in New York a memorial wall to honour the memory of fallen peacekeepers, giving due consideration to the modalities involved, including the recording of the names of those who have made the supreme sacrifice.”

While introducing the resolution, Kamboj said the memorial wall will be a testimony to the importance that the UN bestows on peacekeeping.

She said it will remind people of not only the sacrifices of the fallen but also be a “constant reminder of the cost of our decisions.”

India is currently the 3rd largest contributor of uniformed personnel to UN Peacekeeping with more than 6,000 military and police personnel deployed to Abyei, the Central African Republic, Cyprus, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lebanon, the Middle East and Western Sahara.

About 177 Indian peacekeepers have made the supreme sacrifice, the highest number by far from any troop-contributing country.

The resolution was submitted by 18 countries including Bangladesh, Canada, China, Denmark, Egypt, France, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Nepal, Rwanda and the US.

Prime Minister Modi on Thursday thanked countries for supporting India’s resolution.

“Delighted that the Resolution to establish a new Memorial Wall for fallen Peacekeepers, piloted by India, has been adopted in the UN General Assembly,” the prime minister tweeted.

“The Resolution received a record 190 co-sponsorships. Grateful for everyone’s support,” he said.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar expressed thanks to all member states who co-sponsored the resolution.

He said the resolution that received a record 190 co-sponsorships is a testimony to faith in India’s contributions and intent.

The resolution stipulates that the wall be completed within three years of the text’s adoption.

In her address, Kamboj said: “Peacekeepers are not born. They are forged through the crucible of sacrifice. Their unwavering commitment and selfless acts pave the way for a world where peace must triumph over conflict”.

In 2015, the Permanent Mission of India to the UN launched a virtual memorial wall, dedicated to the Indian troops who made the supreme sacrifice while doing active service as UN peacekeepers.

The initiative was a precursor to the eventual construction of the Peacekeepers Memorial Wall. India had proposed the construction of the memorial wall as an appropriate way to commemorate all the troops from UN member states who had given their lives while on duty under the Blue Flag of the United Nations.

Prime Minister Modi, in his address to the Leaders’ Summit on Peacekeeping hosted by then-US President Barack Obama at the UN Headquarters in September 2015 during the high-level General Assembly week, paid homage to the peacekeepers who laid down their lives in defending the highest ideals of the United Nations.

“It would be most fitting if the proposed memorial wall to the fallen peacekeepers is created quickly. India stands ready to contribute, including financially, to this objective,” Modi had said.

Earlier in 2015, India’s then-Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Asoke Mukerji said that peacekeepers are “brave and dedicated human beings” who are sent into so many volatile and unpredictable situations to uphold the principles and objectives of the UN Charter.

He said with the UN Headquarters Renovation Project almost complete, “we propose that the C34 recommend the construction of a UN Peacekeepers Memorial Wall, with the names of all those UN peacekeepers since 1948 who have laid down their lives ‘to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.”

“India is ready to contribute materially and conceptually to such a project,” he said at the Opening Session of the Annual Debate of the United Nations Special Committee for Peacekeeping Operations (C34).

Following the adoption of the resolution, Mukerji told PTI that the “news of the UNGA Resolution on the Memorial Wall for UN Peacekeepers is a vindication of Prime Minister Modi’s 2015 proposal at the Leaders’ Summit on Peacekeeping.”

“India has unveiled her National War Memorial, including for her UN peacekeepers, in New Delhi in 2019. The Memorial Wall for UN Peacekeepers in New York will provide an appropriate bond commemorating our brave troops who sacrificed their lives for the UN Charter principles of peace, security, and development,” Mukerji said.

The resolution recalled the recommendations contained in the reports of the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations, in which it called for the establishment, through voluntary contributions, of the memorial wall.

It decided that the planning, construction, upkeep and maintenance of the memorial wall will be funded entirely from voluntary contributions.

It also decided to give prominence to the memorial wall by including it in the solemn ceremonies conducted on the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers and other United Nations peacekeeping-related events.

The resolution requested UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to assist with the details regarding the establishment of the memorial wall, including design, location and data to be included on the wall, criteria for inclusion on the wall and other such modalities.

Kamboj highlighted that more than one million men and women from 125 countries have served in 71 peacekeeping missions worldwide over the last 75 years.

Currently, more than 80,000 peacekeepers serve in various conflict zones, enduring harsh conditions and risking their lives to keep the peace.

“Keeping the peace, however, has not been without its cost,” Kamboj said, as she noted that more than 4,200 peacekeepers have laid down their lives in the service of the Blue Flag since the inception of peacekeeping.

“These brave men and women came from different parts of the world, practised different faiths and followed different cultures. They were united by their commitment to the cause of peace, their spirit of selfless sacrifice, their professionalism,” she said.

“These peacekeepers made the supreme sacrifice in the pursuit of mandates that we, as Member States, requested them to carry out,” Kamboj said.

At the ‘International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers’ commemorated last month, top UN officials voiced support for India’s initiative to establish the memorial wall honouring fallen peacekeepers.

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