On May 29, 2016, the Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation (AIPR) marks the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers. With the first official mission beginning on this day in 1948, the United Nations asserts that its continued peacekeeping efforts have functioned as a “legitimate, reliable and effective tool in facilitating the transition from conflict to peace.“ At present moment, the United Nations maintains 16 peacekeeping efforts on four continents. According to the latest figures, the UN’s peacekeeping force of over 105,000 is comprised of uniformed personnel from 124 different countries.
This observance, established by the General Assembly in 2003 (A/RES/57/129), serves two major functions. First, the International Day honors the memory of UN Peacekeepers who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of peace. Over 3,400 Peacekeepers have perished since operations began in 1948. Second, the Day works to recognize the efforts of current peacekeepers, many of whom have been deployed to the world’s most dangerous conflict zones. During last year’s observance of the International Day at the United Nations, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon remarked on the importance of the task undertaken by these men and women:
More than 1 million people have served as peacekeepers, helping countries gain independence, supporting historic elections, protecting civilians, disarming hundreds of thousands of ex-combatants, establishing the rule of law, promoting human rights and creating the conditions for refugees and displaced persons to return home. We should all be proud of these accomplishments.
On this International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers, the Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation echoes the objectives of the observance, honoring the heroic sacrifice of the thousands of Peacekeepers who have died in the name of peace and saluting the efforts of the men and women who continue to works towards building conditions that enable a lasting peace in contemporary conflict zones. AIPR’s Director of Academic Programs, Dr. James Waller adds:
AIPR joins the global community in recognizing the important role that UN Peacekeepers play in preventing future conflict, protecting civilians during times of violence, and helping reestablish peace and stability after crisis. Their work is a living embodiment of the global commitment to building resilient societies from the rubble of previous conflict and we are proud to join today’s worldwide observance of the sacrifices made by these dedicated women and men.