Global perspective Human stories

UN marks 60 years of peacekeeping by honouring fallen staff members

UN marks 60 years of peacekeeping by honouring fallen staff members

United Nations officials will commemorate the sixtieth anniversary of peacekeeping by gathering later this week at the world body’s headquarters in New York for a wreath-laying ceremony to honour the more than 2,400 blue helmets – including 90 last year – who have died in service.

Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Marie Guéhenno will lead the solemn ceremony on Thursday, the annual International Day of UN Peacekeepers, which is also being marked by a series of activities at UN offices and peacekeeping operations around the world.

A multimedia exhibition entitled “Looking back, moving forward,” chronicling the history of UN peacekeeping, will open at UN Headquarters on Thursday. The UN’s Department of Public Information (DPI) has also arranged for the exhibition to be shown concurrently in Bogota, Buenos Aires, Cairo, Canberra, Islamabad, Mexico City, Pretoria and Rabat.

On Friday Mr. Guéhenno will award the Dag Hammarskjöld medal to the military, police and civilian personnel who died last year while serving in UN operations. The medals will be received by representatives of the respective permanent missions.

The Day, which is the exact anniversary of the date in 1948 when the Security Council established the first UN peacekeeping operation, the UN Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), has been marked by the UN since a General Assembly proclamation in 2001.

This year’s anniversary falls at a time of particularly high demand for UN peacekeeping – currently more than 110,000 men and women are deployed in conflict zones worldwide. The uniformed personnel hail from 119 different countries, an all-time record.

Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Nigeria and Nepal are the largest contributors of peacekeepers, together accounting for more than 40 per cent of all blue helmets. The biggest financial contributors are the European Union countries, Japan and the United States, and the total budget is now over $6.5 billion a year.