The road to a lasting peace
International Day of UN Peacekeepers
Ranjan K Baruah
(With direct inputs from UN publication and feedback may be sent to email@example.com)
We are aware of the activities of the United Nations. The United Nations works with different governments and other agencies around the world. It has special agencies dealing with different issues and challenges. Apart from focusing on developmental activities it also has peacekeepers deployed in different disturbed zones of the world.
UN Peacekeeping helps countries navigate the difficult path from conflict to peace and they come from different walks of life. 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 neighbours.
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. Since 1948, 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.
The International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers which is observed on 29th 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. The United Nations General Assembly, in its resolution 57/129, designated 29th 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. The theme for this year's Day is "The road to a lasting peace: Leveraging the power of youth for peace and security."
António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations in his message said that "the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers honours the more than one million women and men who have served on the frontlines of conflict and the more than 4,000 who have lost their lives in the line of duty. Their service and sacrifices will never be forgotten." He also said that "one of our greatest strengths is our young peacekeepers, in particular young women peacekeepers who contribute every day to debunking deeply entrenched gendered stereotypes and inspire young women and girls to seek non-traditional paths and opportunities." "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", he added.
• 2020: Women in Peacekeeping – A Key to Peace.
• 2019: Protecting Civilians, Protecting Peace.
• 2018: UN Peacekeepers: 70 Years of Service and Sacrifice.
• 2017: Investing in peace around the world.
• 2016: Honouring our Heroes.
• 2015: UN70 and UN Peacekeeping: Past, Present, and Future.
• 2014: UN Peacekeeping: A Force for Peace. A Force for Change. A Force for the Future.
• 2013: UN Peacekeeping: Adapting to New Challenges.
• 2012: Peacekeeping Is a Global Partnership.
• 2011: Law, Order, Peace.
• 2010: Responding to Haiti Tragedy
UN Peacekeeping helps countries navigate the difficult path from conflict to peace and three basic principles continue to set UN peacekeeping operations apart as a tool for maintaining international peace and security. These three principles are inter-related and mutually reinforcing: Consent of the parties, impartiality and non-use of force except in self-defence and defence of the mandate.
India has been contributing towards global peace by different means. India has been actively associated with UN peacekeepers and their activities. Indian peacekeepers have served in UN peacekeeping missions around the world. More than 200,000 Indians have served in 49 of the 71 UN peacekeeping missions established around the world since 1948. Apart from men, India has a long tradition of sending women on UN peacekeeping missions. In 2007, India became the first country to deploy an all-women contingent to a UN peacekeeping mission. The Formed Police Unit in Liberia provided 24-hour guard duty and conducted night patrols in the capital Monrovia and helped to build the capacity of the Liberian police. Indian doctors provide medical care to the local population in missions around the world, including in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Indian peacekeepers have served in some of the most physically demanding and harshest environments, including South Sudan.
More than 160 Indian peacekeepers have paid the ultimate price in service to peace, losing their lives serving under the UN flag. Captain Gurbachan Singh Salaria, Param Vir Chakra was an Indian Army officer and member of a United Nations peacekeeping force and is the only UN Peacekeeper to be awarded a Param Vir Chakra, India's highest wartime military decoration. Indian peacekeepers have been awarded Mahavir Chakra, Kirti Chakra, Vir Chakra, Shaurya Chakra, Yudh Seva Medal and Sena Medal apart from other awards.
It is a matter of pride for individuals to get associated with UN peacekeeping activities as one gets many opportunities to make positive changes in some of the disturbed areas. Let us hope that UN peacekeepers will always serve humanity the way they are serving and India would be able to take lead in this matter as many Indians have already contributed to the UN peacekeeping missions around the world.