May 29 is the International Day of United Nations (UN) Peacekeepers to honor the memory of UN Peacekeepers who have lost their lives in the cause of peace, as well as to pay tribute to the professionalism, dedication, and courage of the men and women who have served and continue to serve in UN peacekeeping missions in four continents.
The 2017 theme, “Investing in Peace Around the World,” cites the contributions of uniformed and civilian personnel to the work of the UN. It honors the over 3,500 Peacekeepers who have lost their lives serving under the UN flag since 1948, including 117 last year. The latter will be awarded posthumously the Dag Hammarskjold Medal in a ceremony at UN headquarters in New York on May 29.
UN peacekeeping is regarded as an indispensable tool for the global community in resolving conflicts and crises. The UN peacekeeping force won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1988. Since 1948, the UN has carried out a total of 71 peacekeeping operations, served by more than one million military, police, and civilian personnel from 124 out of 193 UN member-nations, including 125,000 in the 16 missions in operation today. About 30 percent of Peacekeepers are women.
The Philippines first participated in UN peacekeeping when it deployed an air force squadron to support the UN operations in the Congo in 1963. It has since deployed Filipino Peacekeepers to conflict zones in Cambodia, Timor Leste, Burundi, Liberia, Afghanistan, Cote d’ Ivoire, Darfur, Georgia, Haiti, Sudan, and Golan Heights. The National Council for United Nations Peace Operations oversees the country’s participation in UN peace operations.
Peacekeepers, called “blue berets,” because they wear light blue helmets, monitor elections, organize meetings between warring parties, oversee the peace process in post-conflict areas and assists combatants in implementing peace agreement, protect human rights, and help create a better world for all. In cases of natural disasters, violence, and disease, they protect civilians, stabilize regions, and promote peace. They make sure women are represented in peace process, political life and in government, including uniformed services.
“Every day, peacekeepers help bring peace and stability to war-torn societies worldwide. Their sacrifice strengthens our commitment to ensuring that peacekeeping protect civilians in harm’s way, promote human rights and the rule of law, remove landmines, advance negotiations, and secure a better future in places they are deployed,” says UN Secretary-General Antonio O. Guterres.
The UN Truce Supervision Organization, the first UN Peacekeeping mission, was founded on May 29, 1948, to monitor the ceasefire that ended hostilities between Israel and Arab League forces. On December 11, 2002, the UN designated May 29 as International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers, and it was first observed on May 29, 2003.
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