Peacekeeping is the primary mission of the United Nations. It is the work of the UN Security Council which manages all the missions and operations working to maintain peace, notably through resolutions (1).
In addition to using diplomatic and peaceful means to resolve a crisis that may occur, the UN also deploys military forces on the ground. This Peacekeeping Force, often referred to as the “Blue Helmets” in relation to the colour of their helmets, was created in 1948. Their first mission UNTSO (United Nation Truce Supervision Organization) was to supervise the ceasefire in Palestine in a war which followed the declaration of the state of Israel. Its mandate was to supervise the four separate General Armistice Agreements signed between Israel and its Arab neighbours. At first, those soldiers were not armed due to the fact that their only purpose was to observe. It was only in the 1956 Suez Canal crisis when those military overseers became armed. The “Blue Helmets” are thus a military force which play a key role in “maintaining peace and international security”. This Force consists of soldiers, policemen and civilians from member state countries which have been sent to serve this force.
Moreover, blue helmets also have the responsibility to ensure the protection of human rights and of the civilians, for they have the right to disarm combatants, to act as a law enforcement body and to train and help local police. Indeed, this also includes other areas such as the protection of civilians during election time, landmine actions, the Sustainable and Economic Development and finally enabling peaceful decolonisation.
Since its establishment in 1948, 71 operations have been deployed worldwide, including 56 since 1988, not 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 these operations. Until now, more than 3 326 members of the peacekeeping operations have lost their life during their services under the UN flag.
A Few Key Dates
- 1948: The creation of the Peacekeeping Force
- 1988: Blue Helmets received the Nobel Peace Prize
- 1922: Creation of the “Department of Peacekeeping Operation”
- 2002: Establishment of the “Blue Helmets International Day” taking place every year on 29th of May
(1) A United Nations resolution(UN resolution) is a formal text adopted by a United Nations (UN) body