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International Day of
United Nations Peacekeepers

29 May is the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers.

UN Peacekeepers standing in a row wearing blue helmets and sunglasses.

UN Photo/Albert Gonzalez Farran

Officers from the Indonesian contingent of UNAMID stand in formation during a ceremony for the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers in Sudan.

The day has two purposes:

  • to honour the memory of the UN peacekeepers who have lost their lives in the cause of peace; 
  • to 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 2013

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, more than 3,200 military, police and civilian personnel have lost their lives in the service of peace as a result of acts of violence, accidents and disease.

We have rounded up content from the Day in the links below:

Adapting to new challenges

International peace and security needs are changing rapidly and this year we are used Peacekeepers Day to focus on how UN Peacekeeping is ‘Adapting to new challenges’.  

UN Peacekeeping is being given new mandates to meet new challenges. We are being asked to deploy in new operating environments such as Mali, a vast desert nation where international terrorists continue to threaten national sovereignty and local people.

In response we are developing innovative approaches to get the job done in the most challenging conditions. For example the deployment of an ‘Intervention Brigade’ and the use of ‘Unarmed Aerial Vehicles’in the DR Congo.

More than ever, UN Peacekeeping is a flexible tool. While we are increasingly called upon to deploy large-scale multidimensional peacekeeping operations, we remain  flexible enough to rapidly deploy small-scale monitoring missions, such as in Syria in 2012.

Click on the interactive poster to read more about each peacekeeper.

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Mali: Adapting to new environments

Paolo Bonanno is a UN Police Officer deployed to Mali. Paolo trains host-State police how to maintain safety and security while respecting the principles of democratic policing. In Mali, peacekeeping faces one of its toughest new assignments, with international terrorists threatening civilians and security across a vast, desert nation. Seconded from France, Paolo Bonanno is a member of the UN's Standing Police Capacity. He has rapidly deployed to Mali, ahead of the mission's official start date, to prepare for the arrival of the UN Police, authorized at a strength of 1,440 officers. Find out more here »

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DR Congo: Working with
new technology

Hidat Teklom from Eritrea is an Air Operations Planning Officer. Hidat's plan our flights in the DR Congo and makes sure that we can reach the places where we are needed most. Soon Hidat will be coming face to face with the latest addition to UN Peacekeeping. We will be introducing unmanned, unarmed aerial reconnaissance vehicles to extend our capacity to protect civilians in this vast region. Find out more here »

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Darfur: Taking a multidimensional approach

Mariam Gamous is from Sudan, and works as a Corrections Officer for the African Union-United Nations Hybrid operation in Darfur. Mariam uses her experience and expertise to advise prison officers in Darfur and to assist prisoners in health, legal and human rights issues. In times of conflict, people deprived of their liberty are often overlooked or denied their rights. UN Peacekeeping works to ensure these prisoners are not forgotten. Upholding the rule of law is one example of how peacekeeping is working to carry out more complex mandates to support the needs of national governments. Find out more here »

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DR Congo: Delivering
a new mandate

The 'Blue Helmets' in the DR Congo include over 1000 South African Peacekeepers. South Africa is one of the countries contributing to the new 'Intervention Brigade'. The Security Council authorized the deployment of this 3000 strong brigade to address the challenges of conflict-ridden eastern DR Congo. The brigade aims to bring an end to the presence of armed groups which prey on civilian populations. This new tool will support the comprehensive political approach to bring peace in this region. Find out more here »

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South Sudan: Delivering through partnership

Juwa Stella Anyazo is South Sudanese, and she is part of a Norwegian People's Aid all-female demining team in Yei. South Sudan is one of the few mine-affected countries where all-female demining teams are employed. UN Peacekeeping and the UN Mine Action Service fund NGO partners on the ground to train local people, such as Juwa, to detect and clear landmines. By establishing these partnerships we hope ordinary citizens can live without the fear that a single misstep could cost them their lives.

UN Photo: Albert Gonzalez Farran, Marco Grob, Amod Gurung, Jawad Jalali, Sylvain Liechti, Martine Perret, Staton Winter.

Events around the world

At the UN Headquarters in New York, the Secretary-General on 29 May presides over a wreath-laying ceremony in honour of all peacekeepers who lost their lives while serving under the UN flag.

In addition, the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal is awarded posthumously to the peacekeepers who have fallen while serving in the cause of peace, during the preceding year.

UN peacekeeping operations use the Day to strengthen 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.

Previous Peacekeepers Days

The UN General Assembly designated Peacekeepers Day in 2002 [A/RES/57/129PDF Document]. In recent years, we have encouraged the celebration of the Day under a common theme: