The Auschwitz Institute recognizes today, May 29, as the annual International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers. The commemorative date was established through 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. This year, the United Nations celebrates the 73rd anniversary of UN Peacekeeping, a unique and dynamic instrument to help countries torn by conflict transition to lasting peace.
Over the past 70 years, more than 1 million men and women have carried out their duties under the UN banner in over 70 UN peacekeeping operations. More than 100,000 military, police, and civilian personnel from 125 countries currently serve in 14 peacekeeping operations, with over 4,089 peacekeepers losing their lives.
This year’s observance focuses on “The road to a lasting peace: Leveraging the power of youth for peace and security” This theme was chosen to engage and provide an opportunity to young people and youth community leaders to actively and constructively participate in areas that directly impact their lives within the peace efforts, institutional reform processes and decision-making. According to the UN, tens of thousands of 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.
In his message for the 2021 International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres explains:
This year’s observance focuses on the central question of youth, peace and security. In every country where our peacekeepers work, peace can only be achieved with the active participation of young people. The world needs to do far more to address their needs, amplify their voices and ensure their presence at decision-making tables.
Our Missions play an important role in protecting and supporting young people, in particular young women and girls, to reduce violence and sustain peace…
One of our greatest strengths is our own 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.
In 2015, the UN Security Council adopted landmark Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security. This Resolution acknowledges, for the first time, the vital role played by youth in preventing and resolving conflicts, which reinforces the sustainability, inclusiveness and success of UN Peacekeeping. In doing so, it creates a framework based around five pillars — Participation, Protection, Prevention, Partnerships, and Disengagement & Reintegration — that highlights the role that young women and men play in promoting international peace and security. Additionally, Resolution 2250 mandated the first independent study on the positive youth contribution to peace processes and conflict resolution entitled “The Missing Peace: Independent Progress Study on Youth, Peace and Security.”
On this International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers, the Auschwitz Institute honors and recognizes the work of United Nations Peacekeepers, especially young Peacekeepers, who do vital work in preventing mass atrocities around the world. AIPG pays tribute to the thousands of service members who have given their lives to protect vulnerable populations in conflict. The Auschwitz Institute celebrates the invaluable role that UN Peacekeepers play 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.