The United Nations will mark the sixtieth anniversary of United Nations Peacekeeping on Thursday, 29 May, the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers.
Sixty years ago on that date, the United Nations Security Council established the first peacekeeping operation, the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), based in the Middle East. In 2001, the General Assembly proclaimed 29 May as the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers to pay tribute to the men and women who serve in United Nations peacekeeping operations and honour the memory of those who have lost their lives in the cause of peace.
“Peacekeeping has developed into a flagship enterprise of our Organization. Today we have more than 110,000 men and women deployed in conflict zones around the world. They come from nearly 120 countries -- an all-time high, reflecting confidence in UN peacekeeping,” said United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his message marking the occasion. “They bring different cultures and experiences to the job, but they are united in their determination to foster peace.”
On 29 May, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Marie Guéhenno will lead a solemn wreath-laying ceremony at United Nations Headquarters in New York to honour the more than 2,400 peacekeepers who have given their lives in the cause of peace over the past 60 years, including 90 in 2007 alone.
The following day, Under-Secretary-General Guéhenno will award the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal to the military, police and civilian personnel who lost their lives last year serving in United Nations peacekeeping operations. The medals will be received by representatives of the respective Permanent Missions. In a separate ceremony, he will award peacekeeping medals to the military and police officers currently serving in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations at Headquarters in New York.
United Nations peacekeeping, built on its 60 years of experience in the field, is widely acknowledged to be an indispensable tool for the international community in addressing the difficult issues of violent inter-State and intra-State conflicts. Its legitimacy and universality are unique, derived from its character as a collective security effort undertaken on behalf of a global organization comprising 192 Member States. The high level of support among Member States for United Nations peacekeeping efforts is exemplified by the fact that 119 countries provide uniformed peacekeepers to the United Nations, an all-time high. The largest contributors are Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Nigeria and Nepal, which together provide more than 40 per cent of all Blue Berets. The European Union countries, Japan and the United States are the largest financial contributors to the peacekeeping budget, which is now more than $6.5 billion per year.
In addition to ceremonies in New York, the sixtieth anniversary will be commemorated through various activities in peacekeeping operations and United Nations offices around the world. A multimedia exhibition, entitled “Looking Back, Moving Forward”, chronicling United Nations peacekeeping efforts over the past 60 years will be on display in the Visitors’ Lobby at Headquarters, starting on 29 May. The exhibit will be shown in several other countries around the world.
For more information, please contact: Douglas Coffman, Peace and Security Section, Department of Public Information, tel.: 212 963 4481 or 914-610-5060; or Nick Birnback, Department of Peacekeeping Operations, tel.: 917 367 5044 or 917 821 9864.