An Indian peacekeeper, Naik Dhananjay Kumar Singh, who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving under the UN flag in the Democratic Republic of Congo, was posthumously honoured with the prestigious Dag Hammarskjold medal on Thursday. The ceremony, held at the United Nations Headquarters, commemorated the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers and paid tribute to over 60 military, police, and civilian peacekeepers who lost their lives in the line of duty.

India’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj, received the medal from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, underscoring India’s significant contribution to UN Peacekeeping efforts. India, as the second-largest contributor of uniformed personnel to UN Peacekeeping, currently deploys more than 6,000 military and police personnel across various UN missions worldwide.

Among the troop-contributing countries, India has the highest number of peacekeepers who have made the supreme sacrifice, with nearly 180 Indian peacekeepers laying down their lives while serving under the UN flag. The solemn ceremony at the Peacekeepers Memorial Site on the North Lawn included the laying of a wreath by Secretary-General Guterres to honour all UN peacekeepers who have lost their lives since 1948.

During the formal proceedings, Secretary-General Guterres awarded the Dag Hammarskjöld Medals posthumously to 64 military, police, and civilian peacekeepers, including 61 who lost their lives last year. In his message commemorating Peacekeepers’ Day, Guterres lauded the dedication and bravery of UN peacekeepers, who risk their lives daily to uphold humanity’s highest ideal: peace.

“Day in and day out, at great personal risk, these women and men bravely work in some of the most dangerous and unstable places on earth to protect civilians, uphold human rights, support elections and strengthen institutions,” he stated.

Guterres emphasized the vital role played by peacekeepers in protecting civilians, upholding human rights, supporting elections, and strengthening institutions in some of the world’s most dangerous and unstable regions. He paid tribute to the more than 76,000 UN peacekeepers who have served under the UN flag, acknowledging the sacrifices made by over 4,300 peacekeepers who have paid the ultimate price in the pursuit of peace.

The International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers holds particular significance, commemorating the historic decision in 1948 to deploy military observers to supervise the implementation of Israel-Arab Armistice Agreements, marking the establishment of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization.