The Dag Hammerskjöld Medal was approved by the United Nation Security Council in July 1997 as a tribute to the sacrifice of women and men, military and civilian, from all over the world who lost their lives while serving with United Nations peacekeeping operations. The medal’s debut in Fall 1998 honoured the 50th anniversary of United Nations peacekeeping operations.
Louis Nelson designed the palm sized ovoid crystal medal to commemorate the fragility, purity, and strength of those lost lives. Its shape emphasizes the value of life easily held in the palm of one’s hand as a posthumous benediction, not to be worn, but to be displayed in a family home.
The medal is named after Dag Hammarskjöld, the second Secretary-General of the United Nations, who died in a plane crash in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) in September 1961.