United Nations (New York)

8 May 2014

Rwanda: Creating Medal Named After Captain Mbaye Diagne, Security Council Honours

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Honouring those who "demonstrate exceptional courage in the face of extreme danger" today, the Security Council created a first-of-its-kind medal named after a Senegalese military officer who lost his life while serving with the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR) in 1994.

Unanimously adopting resolution 2154 (2014), the Council created the "Captain Mbaye Diagne Medal for Exceptional Courage", to be awarded to military, police and civilian United Nations or associated personnel. It noted with deep appreciation how Captain Diagne, unarmed and in the face of extreme danger, had saved hundreds, perhaps even a thousand, Rwandans from death during the 1994 genocide. Also by the text, the Council recognized with the deepest regret how, after his death, Captain Diagne's family had never received any expressions of appreciation from United Nations Headquarters for the sacrifices made by their distinguished family member.

Eugène-Richard Gasana ( Rwanda) described Captain Diagne as a hero who had refused to be a bystander in the face of evil. He had acted as a peacekeeper, a solider and a human to save lives while armed only with courage and a sense of responsibility. He had conducted several missions through dozens of checkpoints to save up to 1,000 people during the genocide, and the medal was not only a recognition of his courage, but also a reminder of what a solider, a peacekeeper, should be -- a women or man dedicated to preserving peace, saving lives and protecting the vulnerable.

He expressed hope that the medal would encourage better promotion of the protection of civilians in the future and serve as a reminder of the historic acts of ordinary Rwandans, as well as other "blue helmets" who often paid the ultimate price to protect lives. He also voiced hope that the medal would result in soul-searching at the United Nations and help to ensure that the community of nations collectively preserved humanity, guided by moral rules and principles, rather than relying on the brave actions of individuals.

Zeid Ra'ad Zeid Al-Hussein (Jordan), addressing himself to Captain Diagne's family, noted that for 20 years they had grieved the loss of a man who had once served the United Nations. It was shameful that no official from Headquarters had ever called the family following his death, he said, adding that he believed he spoke for everyone present in emphasizing how "profoundly sorry" he was for the manner in which the family had been treated. Captain Diagne was the finest example of what the human family could produce, and the Security Council not only honoured his memory, but in creating a medal in his name, would for the first time in United Nations history publicly recognize those who performed amazing feats in the face of extreme danger.

Abdou Salam Diallo ( Senegal) said that Mbaye Diagne was born in 1958 and had joined the Senegalese army in 1983, earning the rank of captain in 1991. His last assignment within the Armed Forces had been Unit Commander of the 6th Infantry Battalion. By pledging to save the lives of hundreds of people, in accordance with his beliefs, Captain Diagne had magnified the mottos of his formative National School of Active Officers -- intelligence, honour and bravery -- the cardinal virtues underpinning the Senegalese army.

The meeting started at 10:06 a.m. and ended at 10:25 a.m.

Resolution

The full text of resolution 2154 (2014) reads as follows:

"The Security Council,

"Recalling Article 24 of the United Nations Charter which confers upon the Security Council the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security,

"Recognizing the medals presented by the United Nations to those men and women in uniform who serve in United Nations field operations, and recalling its resolution 1121 (1997) establishing the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal, as a tribute to the sacrifice of those who have lost their own lives as a result of service in peacekeeping operations, under the operational control and authority of the United Nations,

"Recalling fundamental principles of the United Nations peacekeeping, as well as other relevant principles of the United Nations activities on the ground,

"Noting with deep appreciation how Captain Mbaye Diagne of UNAMIR and of Senegal, saved, unarmed and in the face of extreme danger, hundreds of, perhaps even a thousand, Rwandans from death, during the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, during which Hutu and others who opposed the genocide were also killed,

"Recognizing with the deepest regret, how the family of Captain Diagne never received, after his death, any expressions of appreciation from the Headquarters of the United Nations for the sacrifices made by their distinguished family member,

"Remembering the many other acts of bravery that military, police and civilian United Nations personnel and associated personnel have undertaken, while fulfilling the mandate of their missions or their functions, at great risk to their lives,

"1. Decides to create "the Captain Mbaye Diagne Medal for Exceptional Courage" to be awarded to those military, police, civilian United Nations personnel and associated personnel who demonstrate exceptional courage, in the face of extreme danger, while fulfilling the mandate of their missions or their functions, in the service of humanity and the United Nations;

"2. Requests the Secretary-General to establish within six months after the adoption of this resolution, the design of the medal, and to submit in due course to the Security Council the modalities for determining how the recipients of the medal shall be nominated and chosen, based on the criteria set forth in the previous paragraph;

"3. Requests that the medal be presented by the Secretary-General to the recipient, or next of kin, in a ceremony to which all Member States of the United Nations shall be invited;

"4. Decides this medal will be ready for investiture within six months of the establishment of its modalities and the administrative management of the award will be provided by the Secretariat."

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