May24

Honouring the United Nations Peace Keepers

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DPI-NGO Briefing on “Peacekeeping as a GlobalPartnership”                        

(in observance of the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers)

Report by Devindree Pillay

Thursday, May 24, 2012

 

Attending this DPI briefing once again reminded me that there is so much of good that is going on in the world that I am unaware of and I was grateful to have the oppurtunity to learn about the great deeds of a whole cadre of unknown heroes (well, at least unknown to me!).  I was impressed to hear the details of UN Peacekeeping missions which operate in the most dangerous and difficult environments in the world, dealing with conflicts – or their aftermath – which others cannot or will not address.  They provide security as well as political and peacebuilding support to help countries torn by conflict make the difficult transition to peace. There are currently 17 UN peace operations deployed on four continents.

The United Nations has no standing army or police force of its own but relies on its Member States to contribute military and police personnel required for peacekeeping operations. The men and women who serve in these operations are first and foremost members of their own national services and then seconded to work with the United Nations; they wear their own countries’ uniforms and are identified as UN peacekeepers only by a UN blue helmet or beret and a badge.  United Nations Peacekeepers come from countries large and small, rich and poor and bring with them their own unique experiences and cultural backgrounds.

Since the first United Nations peacekeeping mission was established in 1948, more than 2990 UN peacekeepers have lost their lives in the service of peace.  In December 2002, the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution 57/129 designated 29 May as the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers. The Day serves as an occasion to “pay tribute to all the men and women who have served and continue to serve in United Nations peacekeeping operations for their high level of professionalism, dedication and courage and honours the memory of those who have lost their lives in the cause of peace”.

The briefing also highlighted the complex role of UN peacekeepers in the context of today’s multidimensional peacekeeping operations. It examined the global partnership between the Security Council, UN Secretariat and the UN’s Agencies, Funds and Programmes on the one hand and Member States who generously provide troops, police and financial contributions as well as countries which host peacekeeping missions on the other.  The critical role of partners such as NGOs in the process of peacekeeping was also highlighted.

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