Over the last 72 years, countless peacekeepers have brought stability and peace to various countries and saved innumerable lives all around the globe.
It is for this reason, peacekeepers are celebrated every year on May 29 for International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers.
This year’s theme was “People. Peace. Progress. The Power of Partnerships.”
“This year, we focus on the Power of Partnerships. We know that peace is won when governments and societies join forces to resolve differences through dialogue, build a culture of nonviolence, and protect the most vulnerable,” said UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.
History of UN Peacekeepers
The first UN peacekeeping mission was established on May 29, 1948, when the UN Security Council authorized the deployment of a small number of UN military observers to the Middle East to observe the Armistice Agreement between Israel and its neighbours.
According to the UN, since then, more than one million women and men have served in 72 peacekeeping operations. And today, UN peacekeeping deploys more than 87,000 military, police, and civilian personnel in 12 operations.
Nearly 4,200 peacekeepers have lost their lives since the first mission.
Canada & Peacekeeping
Canada has a long and storied history of serving in peacekeeping missions. The Canadian Armed Forces have taken part in peacekeeping missions since 1954, the height of which came in the 1990s. CAF members have been sent to peacekeeping missions worldwide, including Afghanistan, the Balkans, Cambodia, Cyprus, Egypt, Haiti, Congo, Rwanda, Somalia, Syria, Ethiopia, and East Timor.
To recognize Canada’s heroic contributions to UN peacekeeping missions, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a statement for International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers.
“Today, we join the international community to honour all United Nations (UN) peacekeepers who have served – and continue to serve – with courage and dedication in peacekeeping missions around the world. We also remember those who lost their lives, including over 100 Canadians, or were injured while deployed.
“The Government of Canada has a long and proud history of supporting UN peacekeeping. For almost 70 years, more than 125,000 Canadians have served in UN peacekeeping operations, protecting people affected by conflicts by monitoring ceasefires and delivering humanitarian assistance, empowering women and girls, and promoting human rights around the world. They have represented the values our country holds dear: peace, freedom, and compassion.
“Canada continues to be a leader and strong supporter of peacekeeping initiatives. Through the Elsie Initiative for Women in Peace Operations, we are working alongside partners to increase the number of uniformed women in peace operations, to help achieve transformational change for peace operations. We are also helping to ensure that children remain children at all stages of a conflict through the Vancouver Principles, which help protect kids from becoming child soldiers.
“By continuing to support peacekeeping, Canada is helping to build a safer, more peaceful future for all. On behalf of all Canadians, I thank UN peacekeepers for their bravery, sacrifice, and dedication, and for helping make the world a safer place.”