International Day of UN Peacekeepers

As May 29 is International Day of UN Peacekeepers, it is an optimal moment to reflect on the work we support by peacekeeping missions, perhaps the best known symbol of the international community's efforts for peace. As the UN has noted today, since the first UN peacekeeping mission was established in 1948, more than 2,990 military, police, and civilian personnel have lost their lives serving in these missions. Certainly we see the challenge today, as missions try to address fresh violence in Syria, Sudan, and the eastern Congo. What is this about?

Like anyone who has visited some of the more than 100,000 people worldwide who serve in UN missions, I am struck by the effort involved. Civilians, police, and military personnel wake up every morning to try to do their job, whether it's implementing the rule of law in eastern Congo, monitoring violence in Syria, working on disarmament of former fighters in Cote d'Ivoire, or trying to rebuild from rubble in Haiti. With other members of the UN Security Council, we have asked these people from over 100 countries to come to do their best.

When you look at a number of the conflicts around the world, you see that it's a small number of countries -- a very narrow space -- where peacekeepers are sent. There are dozens of countries around the world that suffer at some point from political instability. There are others at war. But peacekeepers go into places in between, where the parties to a political agreement are close enough, and that there is come peace to keep, that they can make a difference. At the same time, the risks are high enough that a UN mission is needed to help support that political process and provide a road to manage a post conflict environment, rather than a renewal of conflict.

So by the nature of the missiosn, it's a risky business. Peacekeeping is fundamentally a gamble, and those who deploy know it. There's enough chance that the political parties will not be meeting at a table, that they can take up arms again or that the support that's provided will be insufficient. But where peacekeeping can succeed, it is one of the best investments to secure peace and political stability.

For that willingness to take a risk, we recognize and thank UN peacekeepers, give them credit for taking on such challenging tasks.

Related Content: Statements by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Ambassador Susan Rice



May 30, 2012

V. writes:

Turbulent times get their victims, political instability has a price to pay- it is sad that namely the peacekeeping missions participants often pay the price with their own life.. I wonder what stimulation they need to leave their families and tehir country to become a part of foreign cause...

UN Peacekeeper With UNAMID
Posted by Victoria Holt
May 29, 2012


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