The Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation (AIPR) recognizes May 29 as the annual International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers. The date comes as a result of A/RES/57/129, which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2003 to honor the individuals who have served as United Nations Peacekeepers since operations began in 1948. Thus far, over one million Peacekeepers have carried out their duties under the UN banner. On this commemorative date, the international community joins together to honor the servicemembers – more than 3,800 of them – who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of peace, including the 98 individuals who have done so over the past year.
The 2019 observance of the International Day is dedicated to one of the core pillars of the UN Peacekeeping initiative: the protection of civilians. An “essential duty for 95 per cent of… currently deployed peacekeepers,” the United Nations explains that “civilian, police and military peacekeepers work to protect civilians in three main ways… through dialogue and engagement, through the provision of physical protection, and through the establishment of protective environments.
In his message for the 2019 International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers, United Nations Secretary General António Guterres said:
Today we honor more than one million men and women who have served as United Nations peacekeepers since our first mission in 1948. We remember the more than 3,800 personnel who paid the ultimate price. And we express our deepest gratitude to the 100,000 civilian, police and military peacekeepers deployed around the world today, and to the countries that contribute these brave and dedicated women and men.
2019 marked the first year that the Captain Mbaye Diagne Medal for Exceptional Courage, established by the UN Security Council, was awarded by the United Nations. During the commemorative event held at UN Headquarters, Secretary General Guterres awarded the Diagne Medal to the late Private Chancy Chitete of Malawi, who sustained fatal injuries when rescuing a fellow Peacekeeper during an operation to restore Ebola response measures that were being disrupted by armed groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
On this International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers, the Auschwitz Institute honors and recognizes the work of United Nations Peacekeepers, who do vital work in preventing mass atrocities around the world. AIPR pays solemn tribute to the thousands of service members who have given their lives for the protection of populations across the globe experiencing conflict and/or high levels of vulnerability. The Auschwitz Institute celebrates the invaluable role that UN Peacekeepers fulfill by facilitating peaceful transitions of power, assisting in demilitarization, and protecting processes for dialogue and reconciliation, human rights, and the rule of law, which all contribute to the prevention of future violence.