UNTSO Commander visits Post in Golan Heights. UN Photo/Hanne Olafsen

Background

The General Assembly, in its resolution 57/129, designated 29 May as the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers. This is the date when in 1948 the first UN peacekeeping mission named the "United Nations Truce Supervision Organization", or UNTSO, began operations in Palestine. On this day, we pay tribute to the professionalism, dedication and courage of all the men and women serving in UN peacekeeping operations, and honour the memory of those who have lost their lives in the cause of peace.

Since the first UN Peacekeeping mission was established in 1948, 3,900 military, police and civilian personnel have lost their lives in the service of peace as a result of acts of violence, accidents and disease. On 29 May, UN offices, alongside Member States and non-governmental organizations, hold solemn events to honour fallen peacekeepers.

At the UN Headquarters in New York, the Secretary-General 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.

Who are the peacekeepers?

UN peacekeepers come from all walks of life, with diverse cultural backgrounds and from an ever-growing number of Member States. When they serve under the United Nations they are united by a commitment to maintain or restore world peace and security. They share a common purpose to protect the most vulnerable and provide support to countries in transition from conflict to peace.

Peacekeepers are civilian, military and police personnel all working together. The roles and responsibilities of peacekeepers are evolving as peacekeeping mandates become more complex and multidimensional. Peacekeeping operations have developed from simply monitoring ceasefires to protecting civilians, disarming ex-combatants, protecting human rights, promoting the rule of law, supporting free and fair elections, minimizing the risk of land-mines and much more.

Standards of conduct and training

The UN expects that all peacekeeping personnel adhere to the highest standards of behaviour and conduct themselves in a professional and disciplined manner at all times.

Special training is required to ensure that UN personnel are equipped with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes required to perform these diverse duties and to be prepared for particularly challenging situations. There are several types of required training from pre-deployment which covers basic UN principles, guidelines and policies to more targeted trainings related to specific issues such as sexual abuse and exploitation. These required trainings set standards for UN peacekeeping and guide personnel as they carry out critical tasks to assist the countries within which they work.

 

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UNIFORMED WOMEN IN PEACE OPERATIONS

The UN Security Council (2242) called for doubling the number of women in uniformed components of peace operationsby 2028.

Currently, only 6% of all uniformed military, police and justice and corrections personnel in field missions are women.