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Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al-Hussein

In his Opening Statement at the Human Rights Council 27 session on 8 September 2014, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al-Hussein stated: “I would like to make a simple point: courage is the first human virtue, revered the world over, the very virtue we value the most as human beings. The courageous individual is not he or she who wields great political power or points a gun at those who do not – that is not courage. The courageous individual is he or she who has nothing to wield but common sense, reason and the law, and is prepared to forfeit future, family, friends and even life in defence of others, or to end injustice. In its most magnificent form, the courageous individual undertakes this exertion, without ever threatening or taking the life of someone else, and certainly not someone defenceless. As the Viennese thinker Stefan Zweig wrote, after having lived through one world war and fled another, "Our greatest debt of gratitude is to those who in these inhuman times confirm the human in us." Human rights defenders are such courageous people, and we must do everything we can to protect them, and celebrate them. The UN is often slow to recognise this. Captain Mbaye Diagne of Senegal was probably the most courageous man who ever served with the UN, but until recently was never recognized by the UN headquarters for his sacrifice. He saved possibly a thousand people in Rwanda in the spring of 1994, and lost his life doing so, and never hurt anybody.


On the 6th April 2014, on the occasion of the 20 anniversary of Captain Mbaye Diagne’s death, the BBC released the documentary “A good man in Rwanda”, which tells the Captain’s heroic story


On 8th of May, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2154 (2014) which recognized the Captain’s heroism and created the “Captain Mbaye Diagne Medal for Exceptional Courage”, which in the future will be awarded to military, police and civilian United Nations or associated personnel who will distinguish themselves in protecting lives in similar circumstances.


In the same Resolution, the Security Council also expressed its “deepest regret” to the family of the Captain, which “has 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”.

On 30 June 2014, Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al-Hussein has become the First Member of Honor of the Association of Captain Mbaye Diagne for the Culture of Peace.



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