Yesterday marked National Peacekeepers’ Day. Established in 2008, this year’s theme was “70 years of Service and Sacrifice.” The day paid tribute to the contributions of civilian and uniformed personnel while honouring the 3,700 peacekeepers lost since 1948, including the 129 lost last year.
This year marks the 70th anniversary of UN peacekeeping, created to help countries torn by conflict create everlasting peace. The very first peacekeeping mission was established on May 29, 1948. A small number of UN military observers were deployed to the Middle East to oversee the Armistice Agreement between Israel and its Arab neighbours, thus creating the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO).
In the last 70 years, more than one million men and women have served for the UN in 71 different peacekeeping missions, having impacted the lives of millions of people from around the world, saving lives and protecting those most vulnerable. Peacekeepers have made countless sacrifices, putting their lives at risk and working through difficult situations. The families of peacekeepers share in their sacrifices.
No matter where, no matter when, UN peacekeepers are ready to deploy at a moment’s notice in the matter of creating peace between nations. The UN’s most recent deployment, United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), successfully completed its agenda in March 2018, making it the 57th UN peacekeeping mission to do so. The completion of UNMIL put an end to more than 20 years of UN Peacekeeping in West Africa’s Mano River Basin.
Today, the UN deploys more than 100,000 military, police and civilian personnel in 14 peacekeeping operations on four continents. Currently, UN peacekeeping missions receive contributions of military and police from 124 Member States as well as needed equipment to sustain their operations.
Although National Peacekeepers’ Day is honoured and commemorated on May 29, the UN headquarters in New York will commemorate it on June 1, 2018.
The Secretary-General, António Guterres, will preside over a wreath-laying ceremony in honour of all peacekeepers who have lost their lives while serving under the UN flag. Additionally, the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal will be awarded posthumously to the 129 peacekeepers who lost their lives in 2017 while serving in the matter of peace.