International Day of
United Nations Peacekeepers
29 May is the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers.
The day was established to:
- Honour the memory of the UN peacekeepers who have lost their lives in the cause of peace;
- Pay tribute to all the men and women who have served and continue to serve in UN peacekeeping operations for their high level of professionalism, dedication and courage.
Peacekeepers Day 2016
On 29 May, UN offices, alongside Member States and non-governmental organizations, hold events to honour fallen peacekeepers. Since the first UN peacekeeping mission was established in 1948 until April 2016, 3,400 military, police and civilian personnel have lost their lives in the service of peace as a result of acts of violence, accidents and disease.
Honouring our Heroes
For more than 70 years, UN Peacekeeping has proven to be a legitimate, reliable and effective tool in facilitating the transition from conflict to peace. Fifteen years ago, the UN had fewer than 40,000 Military and police personnel. Today, more than 105,000 uniformed personnel from 124 troop- and police-contributing countries serve under the UN flag, along with 18,000 international and national civilian staff and UN Volunteers. They courageously risk their lives in order to bring stability to some of the world’s most vulnerable populations.
As the size, complexity and accomplishments of peacekeeping have grown, unfortunately so have the risks as the ‘Blue Helmets’ are increasingly and directly targeted. Last year, the list of fallen numbered 129. These selfless peacekeepers came from 46 countries, and hailed from the ranks of military, police, international civil servants, UN Volunteers and national staff. They all had vastly different backgrounds, but all shared heroism and the belief that UN peacekeeping is, and must, remain a global force for good.
We “Honour our Heroes” – the more than one million women and men who have served under the ‘blue flag’ with pride, distinction and courage ever since the first UN peacekeeping mission was deployed in 1948.
Events around the world
While the official International Day of United Nations Peacekeeper’s Day is on 29 May, UN Headquarters in New York will celebrate on 19 May.
The Secretary-General will preside over a wreath-laying ceremony in honour of all peacekeepers who have lost their lives while serving under the UN flag.
In addition, the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal will be awarded posthumously to the peacekeepers who have fallen while serving in the cause of peace, during the preceding year.
UN peacekeeping operations mark the Day by strengthening bonds with the local populations that they have been deployed to serve. For example, by holding sporting events, school and orphanage visits, art and essay competitions, photo exhibits, neighbourhood clean ups, tree plantings, concerts, and conferences and workshops on peace issues. Events around the world will be shared through the tag #Together4Peace.
Previous Peacekeepers Days
The UN General Assembly designated Peacekeepers Day in 2002 [A/RES/57/129]. In recent years, we have encouraged the celebration of the Day under a common theme:
- 2015: Together for peace – reflecting on the past, present and future of UN Peacekeeping, reaffirming our commitment to working 'Together for Peace'
- 2014: A force for the future – focusing on how UN Peacekeeping is evolving to meet new challenges
- 2013: Adapting to new challenges – exploring the changing needs of international peace and security
- 2012: Peacekeeping is a Global Partnership – highlighting the variety of partnerships we have at every stage of our work.
- 2011: Law. Order. Peace – focusing on our efforts to strengthen rule of law.
- 2010: Ayiti Kanpe (Haiti Standing) – remembering the earthquake in Haiti that resulted in the death of 102 UN personnel, including 97 peacekeepers;
- 2009: Women in peacekeeping – the important role of women peacekeepers;
- 2008: 60th anniversary of UN Peacekeeping.
- What is peacekeeping?
- Peacekeepers Day 2015: 'UN Peacekeeping: Together for Peace.'
- UN 70 website dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the United Nations
- UN News Centre Multimedia Page
- Past observances
- Peacekeeping wins Nobel Peace Prize
- UN Medals
- 'Why UN Peacekeeping Needs Global Support More Than Ever' by Under-Secretary-General Hervé Ladsous (28 May 2015)