The International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers is marked on Monday, May 29, with the global community paying tribute to the uniformed and non-uniformed officers for their sacrifices to bring peace and draw lessons from past missions.
The 75th anniversary will be marked with the theme “Peace begins with me.”
The theme recognizes the service and sacrifice of peacekeepers, past and present, including more than 4,200 who have given their lives under the UN flag. It also pays tribute to the resilience of the communities, who continue to strive for peace despite many obstacles.
“United Nations peacekeepers are the beating heart of our commitment to a more peaceful world. For 75 years, they have supported people and communities rocked by conflict and upheaval across the globe,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said.
According to the UN, for 75 years, peacekeepers have worked to save and change lives in the world’s most fragile political and security situations.
Since 1948, more than two million uniformed and civilian personnel have helped countries to transition from war to peace.
Faced with ‘greater challenges’
“The challenges faced by peacekeepers are greater than ever, with rising global tensions, more complex conflict, and a proliferation of misinformation and disinformation, which impedes their work and threatens their safety,” the UN says.
“Despite these obstacles, peacekeepers persevere, alongside many partners, in the collective pursuit of peace.”
However, experts say, the UN peacekeeping model needs to be rethought to better deal with contemporary security challenges and prevent shortcomings of the past and present missions.
Speaking at the recent National Security Symposium, in Kigali, Rwanda, the Chief of Defence Staff of the Rwanda Defence Force, Gen Jean Bosco Kazura, said the principles of the UN model, such as impartiality, non-violence, should be matched with the situations on the ground to make them practical and protect civilians.
“The way we did things in 1980 is not the [same] way we can do it today, and definitely it will not be the way we are going to do it tomorrow,” said Kazura, a former head of the UN mission in Mali.
“Peacekeeping missions can be done better because the future we are talking about is uncertain. We need to think about the peacekeeping missions with the purpose of protecting the people.”