Prominent humanists have taken a significant role in the International Day of UN Peacekeepers Remembrance Ceremony, which commemorates UN peacekeepers who have been killed in the line of duty. Flight Lieutenant Emily McCullouch of RAF Leuchars, who is a member of the BHA (British Humanist Association) and UKAFHA (United Kingdom Armed Forces Humanist Association), delivered the closing remarks at the ceremony which is on par with November Remembrance Day, on behalf of the 14.7% of Armed Forces personnel who last year identified themselves as non-religious. BHA Trustee Patricia Rogers, who is an educator and internationalist with widespread experience of running international campaigning charities, also attended. The BHA which has also been campaigning for four years for humanist representation at the national remembrance ceremony at the Cenotaph very much welcome the news.
The Remembrance Ceremony was preceded by the International Day of UN Peacekeepers 10th Annual Conference, which was organised jointly by the United Nations Association Westminster Branch and RUSI (Royal United Services Institute). The conference discussed the role of international police units in UN missions, who help to rebuild a modern state after the withdrawal of military forces, with a focus on the role of women police officers. The conference was followed by a parade along Whitehall involving members of the diplomatic community, which assembled at the Women of World War II Memorial for the Remembrance Ceremony. The Ceremony remembers those from the 122 participating nations who have been killed whilst serving as UN peacekeepers. A total of 3,108 UN peacekeepers have lost their lives in service, 103 of whom were British.
Flight Lieutenant Emily McCullouch delivered the UN Peacekeepers’ Day Humanist Tribute, as the Ceremony’s ‘closing prayer’. She explained that humanists share the vision which underlies the principles of the UN, which is that of ‘a world where everyone lives cooperatively on the basis of shared human values, respect for human rights, and concern for future generations’. She paid tribute to UN Peacekeepers who have been killed or injured in the line of duty, as well as their family members and friends who have supported them. She also honoured ‘all those who currently risk their lives, serving in the forces to build international peace and security in a world in which, as agreed by all parties to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace”.’
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UNA-UK – After the peacekeepers leave: International Day of UN Peacekeepers 10th Annual Conference:
The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief.