Military personnel from the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) carrying victims of a hurricane through flood waters.
UN Photo - September 2008
The Security Council sets up UN peacekeeping operations and defines their scope and mandate in its efforts to maintain international peace and security. Most operations involve military duties, such as observing a ceasefire or establishing a buffer zone while negotiators seek a long-term solution. Others may require civilian police or other civilian personnel to help organize elections or monitor human rights. Operations have also been deployed to monitor peace agreements in cooperation with the peacekeeping forces of regional organizations.
Peacekeeping operations may last for a few months or continue for decades. The UN operation at the ceasefire line between India and Pakistan in the State of Jammu and Kashmir, for example, was established in 1949, and UN peacekeepers have been in Cyprus since 1964. In contrast, the UN was able to complete its 1994 mission in the Aouzou Strip between Libya and Chad in a little over a month.
Since the UN first deployed peacekeepers in 1948, nearly 130 countries have voluntarily provided up to 1 million soldiers, police officers and civilians. They have served, along with thousands of civilians, in more than 60 peacekeeping operations. In 2009, 120 countries were contributing some 90,200 uniformed personnel — a record number. More than 95,000 uniformed personnel provided by some 115 countries are currently serving in those operations.