Peacekeeping is the first UN’s mission. It’s the UN Security Council which manages all missions and operations of maintaining peace, notably through resolutions (1).
In addition of using diplomatic and peaceful means to resolve any crisis that occurs to strive for peace the UN also deploys military forces on the ground. This Peacekeeping Force, remotely called “Blue Helmets” to remind us about the blue color of their helmets, was born in 1948. Their first mission UNTSO (United Nation Truce Supervision Organization) involved the oversight of the ceasefire in Palestine in the war which followed the declaration of the state of Israel. It was mandated to supervise the four separate General Armistice Agreements signed between Israel and its Arab neighbors. Originally, soldiers were not armed due to the fact that their only purposed was to be an observer. It was only in 1956 with the Suez Canal crisis that those military observers became armed. Thus, “Blue Helmets” are a military force which plays a key role in “maintaining peace and international security”. This Force consists of soldiers, policemen and civilians. However it’s not the UN’s army, indeed, “blue helmets” ae soldiers lent by member states of the United Nations.
Moreover, blue helmets have also the responsibility to ensure the protection of human rights and civilians which give them the right to disarm combatants, to act as a law enforcement body and to train and help local police. Furthermore, the main attributes to peacekeeping are the protection of civilians and others during election time, landmines actions, the Sustainable and Economic Development and finally the decolonization.
Since its establishment in 1948, 71 operations have been deployed worldwide, including 56 since 1988, without forgetting that there are currently 15 missions worldwide. Over the years, hundreds of thousands of soldiers and tens of thousands of policemen from the United Nations and civilians from more than 120 countries have contributed to those operations. Till now, more than 3 326 members of peacekeeping operations have lost life during their services under the UN’s flag.
A few key dates
- 1948: Peacekeeping Force creation
- 1988: Blue Helmets received the Nobel Peace Prize
- 1922: “Department of Peacekeeping Operation” creation
- 2002: Establishment of the “Blue Helmets International Day” on every 29th of May
(1) A United Nations resolution(UN resolution) is a formal text adopted by a United Nations (UN) body