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What is peacekeeping?

United Nations Peacekeeping helps countries torn by conflict create conditions for lasting peace.

Actor George Clooney speaks of UN Peacekeepers.

Peacekeeping has proven to be one of the most effective tools available to the UN to assist host countries navigate the difficult path from conflict to peace. 

Peacekeeping has unique strengths, including legitimacy, burden sharing, and an ability to deploy and sustain troops and police from around the globe, integrating them with civilian peacekeepers to advance multidimensional mandates.

UN Peacekeepers provide security and the political and peacebuilding support to help countries make the difficult, early transition from conflict to peace.

UN Peacekeeping is guided by three basic principles:

  • Consent of the parties;
  • Impartiality;
  • Non-use of force except in self-defence and defence of the mandate.

Peacekeeping is flexible and over the past two decades has been deployed in many configurations. There are currently 16 UN peacekeeping operations deployed on four continents.

Today's multidimensional peacekeeping operations are called upon not only to maintain peace and security, but also to facilitate the political process, protect civilians, assist in the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants; support the organization of elections, protect and promote human rights and assist in restoring the rule of law.

Success is never guaranteed, because UN Peacekeeping almost by definition goes to the most physically and politically difficult environments. However, we have built up a demonstrable record of success over our 60 years of existence, including winning the Nobel Peace Prize.

Peacekeeping has always been highly dynamic and has evolved in the face of new challenges. Recently, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon established a 17-member High-level Independent Panel on UN Peace Operations to make a comprehensive assessment of the state of UN peace operations today, and the emerging needs of the future.