International Day of UN Peacekeepers - hero image

illustration of peacekeepers with an animated swirl around them
Today, tens of thousands of young peacekeepers (between the ages of 18 and 29 years) are deployed around the world and play a major role in helping the missions implement their mandated activities including the protection of civilians. Image: UN
illustration of peacekeepers with an animated swirl around them
Today, tens of thousands of young peacekeepers (between the ages of 18 and 29 years) are deployed around the world and play a major role in helping the missions implement their mandated activities including the protection of civilians. Image: UN
 
António Guterres

United Nations peacekeeping helps nurture peace in some of the world’s most dangerous places. Today and every day, we salute the dedication and bravery of our peacekeepers in helping societies turn away from war and towards a safer, more stable future.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres

The road to a lasting peace: Leveraging the power of youth for peace and security

The International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers, 29 May, offers a chance to pay tribute to the uniformed and civilian personnel’s invaluable contribution to the work of the Organization and to honour more than 4,000 peacekeepers who have lost their lives serving under the UN flag since 1948, including 130 last year.

This year, the challenges and threats faced by our peacekeepers are even greater than ever as they, like people around the world, are having to cope not only with the COVID-19 pandemic but also the continued requirement to support and protect the people in the countries in which they are based.

The theme for this year’s Day is "The road to a lasting peace: Leveraging the power of youth for peace and security."

Today, tens of thousands of young peacekeepers (between the ages of 18 and 29 years) are deployed around the world and play a major role in helping the missions implement their mandated activities including the protection of civilians.  And UN peace operations -- in line with a series of Security Council resolutions (2250, 2419 and 2535) -- are increasing their collaboration with youth and youth groups to help build sustainable peace and implement their mandates on the ground.

The first UN peacekeeping mission was established on 29 May 1948, when the Security Council authorized the deployment of a small number of UN military observers to the Middle East to form the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) to monitor the Armistice Agreement between Israel and its Arab neighbors.

Since then, more than 1 million women and men have served in 72 UN peacekeeping operations, directly impacting the lives of millions of people and saving countless lives. Today, UN Peacekeeping deploys more than 89,000 military, police and civilian personnel in ;12 operations.

To mark the Day at the UN Headquarters in New York on 27 May, the Secretary-General will lay a wreath in honour of all peacekeepers who have lost their lives while serving under the UN flag over the past seven decades. And a virtual ceremony will be held at which the Dag Hammarskjold medal will be awarded posthumously to peacekeepers who lost their lives in 2020 and in January 2021. The Military Gender Advocate of the Year award will also be presented at the virtual ceremony.

 

Amidst upheaval of COVID-19, Peacekeeping is part of the solution

Did you know

  • By 2030, the number of persons 15-24 years of age is projected to grow to nearly 1.3 billion.
  • Around 87 per cent of youth live in developing countries, and 30 per cent live in fragile and conflict-affected countries.
  • Young people are key agents of change in building just and peaceful societies.
Two Nigerian peackeepers await an inspection of their base.

UN Peacekeeping helps countries navigate the difficult path from conflict to peace. We have unique strengths, including legitimacy, burden sharing, and an ability to deploy troops and police from around the world, integrating them with civilian peacekeepers to address a range of mandates set by the UN Security Council and General Assembly.

 

Youth can be a positive force for development when provided with the knowledge and opportunities they need to thrive. Today, there are 1.2 billion young people aged 15 to 24 years, accounting for 16 per cent of the global population . By 2030—the target date for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that make up the 2030 Agenda—the number of youth is projected to have grown by 7 per cent, to nearly 1.3 billion.

illustration of people with clock, calendar, to-do list and decorations

International days and weeks are occasions to educate the public on issues of concern, to mobilize political will and resources to address global problems, and to celebrate and reinforce achievements of humanity. The existence of international days predates the establishment of the United Nations, but the UN has embraced them as a powerful advocacy tool. We also mark other UN observances.