About the Author: Judy Buelow serves as Deputy Director of the Office of Peacekeeping, Sanctions, and Counter-terrorism in the Bureau of International Organization Affairs.
Today marks the International Day of UN Peacekeepers, and offers us an opportunity to reflect on the purpose and role of UN peacekeeping missions around the world and the men and women who serve in those missions. It may come as a surprise to many that the first UN peacekeeping mission was established 61 years ago, and that there have been a total of 63 such missions in the years since.
Peacekeeping has evolved a good deal over the last six decades, from maintaining ceasefires and stabilizing conflict situations, to more robust mandates that can include helping to build government institutions, monitoring elections, and disarming, demobilizing, and reintegrating former combatants. What hasn’t changed is the fact that it can be a dangerous business.
There are currently more than 92,000 personnel serving in 16 UN peacekeeping operations from Haiti to Cyprus, Darfur to Lebanon. And while UN peacekeeping can’t resolve every conflict, the U.S. firmly believes that it can be a valuable tool for helping parties to a conflict restore peace and stability.
The truth of that statement can been seen in places like Sierra Leone, Guatemala, and Mozambique, which are at peace today with the help of successful peacekeeping missions. The U.S. strongly supports the UN’s “blue helmets,” and in part that support stems from the fact that multilateral peacekeeping allows the U.S. to share the burdens and risks of peacekeeping with the world community.
So, today we salute the brave and dedicated men and women serving in UN peacekeeping missions around the world. The world is a safer, more stable place as a result of their efforts.