Good afternoon, everybody. It’s great to be with you all again this year. And it’s a real privilege for us to pay tribute to the work of UN peacekeeping today aboard the USS WASP, an amphibious warship that is truly number one in the fleet.
Admiral Greenert, we’re especially pleased to have you with us today. And Captain Boardman, we are grateful for your hospitality and, especially, for your exemplary, dedicated service to our country. Special thanks to all of the sailors and Marines of the USS WASP for having us here today.
General Wolff, I’m delighted to co-host this annual reception with you. I am sure it was difficult to take time away from your work in the Pentagon to join us on this spring afternoon—even though it’s raining—in New York City. And I want to thank you personally for your leadership and guidance of our U.S. Military Staff Committee.
All of us at the U.S. Mission look very much forward to this event each year. It is a special day, a day in which we can express our deep gratitude for the service and cooperation that all of you—from the Military and Police Advisors Community to the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and Department of Field Support—extend to Colonel Whalen and his team at the U.S. Mission. We’re grateful for your professionalism, your cooperative spirit, your expertise, and your tireless work. You make the process work for all of us, and you advance the global security mission of UN peacekeeping.
As President Obama has emphasized repeatedly at the United Nations and in his meetings with Troop Contributing Countries, enhancing peacekeeping effectiveness has been, and continues to be, one of our core objectives. For, as the President has said before the UN General Assembly, “neither dignity nor democracy can thrive without basic security.”
For this reason, the United States has strengthened our support for effective peacekeeping, recognizing that all nations have rights and responsibilities associated with advancing a more just, prosperous, and secure world. No one nation can address these global challenges singlehandedly.
Peacekeeping really is a global partnership without historical precedent. Nearly 100,000 personnel in uniform join 20,000 civilians from 117 countries—male and female, soldiers, police, and civilians—in safeguarding peace, protecting civilians, consolidating the rule of law and laying the foundation for more stable and democratic societies to flourish.
Next Tuesday is the International Day of UN Peacekeepers. On that day, we pay tribute to all the men and women who served on the front lines and who continue to risk their lives to bring peace and stability to areas that might otherwise be engulfed in deadly conflict.
They are rightly proud of their service to the United Nations and to the countries they shield from the scourge of war. It often comes with great sacrifice. Since the establishment of the UN's first peacekeeping mission 64 years ago, nearly 3,000 personnel have given their lives for the cause of peace, and we pay tribute to their service.
To all of you who are engaged in the hard work of advancing UN peacekeeping, we honor you and the commitment of your home country to this noble and necessary undertaking. And we look forward to working with you in the months ahead. Nothing less than our shared ideals and common interests are at stake.
Thank you for your service and making time to be with us today.
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