This Sunday, May 29 is the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers. Never heard of it? It’s the day that recognizes and celebrates all those who have taken part in UN peacekeeping operations led by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO). Never heard of that? Well, it’s a department of the United Nations that is committed to maintaining international peace and security. It leads operations in countries of conflict to resolve that conflict and create a state of lasting peace.
In its 60 years of existence, UN Peacekeeping has implemented over fifty successfulinternational peace operations in dozens of countries, not including the fifteen projects that are currently in progress. Simply put, UN Peacekeepers know what they’re doing and – considering the success they’ve had – they’re clearly doing something right. They have also won the Nobel Peace Prize.
Staying true to the three basic principles of peacekeeping (consent of the parties, impartiality, and the non-use of force), UN Peacekeepers develop a specific strategy and budget for each operation. This allows for the highest chance of a successful operation that ends in lasting peace for the country – and consequently the world.
There’s certainly a lot to celebrate this Sunday, as peacekeeping is no simple task. In order for peace building to work, there needs to be the perfect combination of idealism, to maintain hope that peace can be achieved, and realism, to understand the challenges that get in the way. In a word filled with hate, violence, and warfare, it takes a lot of heart to believe in the possibility of peace. It takes even greater time, dedication, and hard work to create a realistic plan that can be both successful and effective.
So this Sunday, take a moment to appreciate the wonderful yet extremely difficult work that UN Peacekeepers do. Honor the 2,900 people who have died in these efforts, and support the 120,000+ people who are currently participating in operations. Not only can we learn something from the peace building strategies and accomplishments of UN Peacekeeping, but we can also be inspired by their hope for a more peaceful globe.
Do you believe that global peace can be achieved? Do you know any other organizations that have similar goals to UN Peacekeepers? Let us know what other organizations are working hard to achieve peace!Rebecca Birnbaum is a Program and Research Intern with the SISGI Group focusing on nonviolent conflict resolution, nonprofit management, and sustainable development. She is a senior at the University of Michigan, where she studies Anthropology, Political Science, and Peace and Social Justice. To learn more about the SISGI Group visit www.sisgigroup.org.