This week we observed the International Day for UN Peacekeepers, which marks the 70th anniversary of UN Peacekeeping. It is a time to reflect on the 134 peacekeepers who lost their lives this year and to show gratitude to the nearly 105,000 troops, police, civilians, and volunteers - coming from 124 countries - who serve on 14 peacekeeping operations worldwide.
After 70 years, UN Peacekeeping remains as relevant as ever.
“UN peacekeepers from Kidal to Kashmir help prevent civil wars from metastasizing into regional conflicts, reduce forced displacement and refugee outflows, and provide safe passage to deliver lifesaving aid,” said Eric Schwartz, president of Refugees International.
UN Secretary General Guterres meets with peacekeeping trainees in China. (UN Photo - Yun Zhao
Peter Yeo, president of the Better World Campaign added that “UN Peacekeeping missions are cost-effective and ensure that the United States does not have to confront these challenges alone.”
With a budget that compromises less than one half of one percent of global military spending, UN Peacekeeping contributes to global security at relatively low cost. A report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released in February found that it has cost the U.S. eight times less to support the UN Peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic than it would have cost for the U.S. to deploy its own military forces. Over the last year, however, peacekeeping budgets have been counter-intuitively under assault with U.S.-imposed cuts.
“UN peacekeepers are often deployed into ongoing conflicts to protect innocent civilians when governments are unable or unwilling to protect their own people. UN peacekeepers are often the only hope for these vulnerable people and U.S. support is critical,” says Aditi Gorur, director of the Protecting Civilians in Conflict Program at the Stimson Center.
UN peacekeepers operate in extremely volatile environments and their challenging mandates continue to expand. This is the case in South Sudan, where UN peacekeepers, in addition to supporting the peace process, investigating rights violations, and securing humanitarian access, are also providing shelter for more than 200,000 civilians within their bases.
Today, we honor 70 years of UN Peacekeeping and honor the more than one million men and women who have served under the UN flag in dedication of global peace and security. For those who sacrificed their lives for these values, we commemorate their contributions to such an important source of hope and stability for millions around the world.
The Partnership for Effective Peacekeeping (PEP) is a Washington, D.C.-based, nonpartisan working group led by the Better World Campaign, the Stimson Center, and Refugees International. PEP brings together the research, policy, advocacy, and humanitarian communities to identify challenges, promote the best ways to strengthen international peacekeeping capacity, and maintain U.S. support for peacekeeping.