On September 18, 2011, it will be 50 years since Dag Hammarskjold's tragic death in a plane crash in what was then Northern Rhodesia, today's Zambia. Hammarskjold, the second Secretary-General of the United Nations, dedicated his life to peace and has since then served as an inspiration and an example for the thousands of U.N. staff members and relief or aid workers who risk their lives on a daily basis for helping others, for making this world a better place for all. And indeed, he still inspires students and young graduates to join the U.N. system and many other specialized, regional, and international institutions around the world.

Dag Hammarskjold and seven other great figures are the subject of the newly released book "Heroes of the United Nations: men and women who made the world a better place," published by the Gstaad Project.

Edited by Andreas S. von Warburg, and illustrated by New Zealand artist Matthew Couper, "Heroes of the United Nations" narrates the stories of eight great heroes through speeches, interviews, articles. It shows the 'human side' of the United Nations and the impact everyday people can have while helping the organization fight hunger, poverty, inequality. Everyday people like Angela King, Helvi Sipila, Carlo Urbani, and Nadia Younes. But also great figures like Hammarskjold, Graca Machel, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Sergio Vieira de Mello who used their voices for the good of others.

"Thousands of people are employed by the United Nations and other international organizations in the most dangerous spots around the world, where intestine wars, famine, drought, and natural disasters are killing millions of innocents every day," writes the author in his introduction. "They are heroes who chose to spend most of their life in poor and under-developed countries in order to make a difference, to improve and save the lives of as many people as possible. They don't represent a country, they don't travel first class, they don't go to lavish diplomatic dinners and parties. Instead, they risk their own life for world peace and security, to provide food and clean water to the poorest people on Earth, to foster gender equality and social justice, to promote and nurture human rights and sustainable development."

Undeniably, risks are considered high when working in dangerous areas -- just as they are for any other international worker, such as war correspondents, military personnel, or private contractors.

But the reward is infinite: saving the life of just one person marks a big step forward for humanity. And that is what "world diplomats" do every day working behind the scenes.

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