Maintain the Peace

Peacekeeping is the primary mission of the United Nations. It is the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) that manages peacekeeping missions and operations through, in particular, resolutions. In order to work for peace, the UN deploys on the ground, in addition to diplomatic and peaceful means of settling crises, military means. This peacekeeping force, commonly called “Blue Helmets” as a reminder of the color of their helmets, was born in 1948. Their first UNUST mission was to monitor the truce of the Arab-Israeli war. Originally, the soldiers were unarmed, they were just observers. The first armed intervention did not take place until 1956, during the Suez Canal crisis. The Blue Helmets are thus a military force whose role is “to maintain or restore international peace and security”. This force is made up of military, police and civilian personnel. It does not constitute a UN army, the Blue Helmets are soldiers loaned by the member countries of the latter.

These soldiers have, among other things, a role of protecting human rights and civilian populations, which gives them the right to disarm combatants, maintain order or train local police. The main attributes of peacekeeping are therefore election monitoring, landmine control, sustainable and economic development, and decolonization.

Since its inception in 1948, the United Nations has deployed 71 peacekeeping operations, including 56 since 1988. Today, there are 15 ongoing missions around the world. Over the years, hundreds of thousands of military personnel as well as tens of thousands of UN police and civilians from more than 120 countries have participated in these operations. To date, more than 3,326 members of peace operations have lost their lives while serving under the United Nations flag.

Some Important Dates:

  • 1948 : Creation of the peacekeeping forces
  • 1988 : Peacekeepers receive the Nobel Peace Prize
  • 1992 : creation of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations
  • 2002 : establishment of the International Day of Peacekeepers