Saturday, May 28, 2011

Tomorrow Is UN Peacekeepers Day!

On May 27th, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon paid tribute to the more than 120,000 military, police and civilian personnel who served in the numerous UN peacekeeping missions across the world. He honored those who have lost their lives in the cause of peace. "Their deployment is a manifestation of our collective conviction that people should not have to suffer through a period of insecurity, injustice and fear," was his message for the International Day of UN Peacekeepers, which is observed on May 29th every year.

When conflict strikes, violence erupts and people are forced from their homes, UN Peacekeepers are sent in to work to improve the rule of law, implement a system of rights and establish peace in an area. Peacekeeping in the 21st century is focused on building foundations for long term institution building and sustainability. UN peacekeepers send police forces to train and monitor the security systems within a collapsed country. They help restore and reform institutions and work with the court systems to become more accountable. This makes it possible for culture and the rule of law to re-develop in weak or collapsed states.

Sunday is the 9th observance day of UN Peacekeepers. It is a particularly sombre day since in early April 173 peacekeepers were lost in an attack on the UN compound in Afghanistan. Only a few days later, 32 more lives were lost in a plan crash in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Peacekeepers make heavy sacrifices, working towards peace in countries ranging from Southern Sudan to the Ivory Coast. There are nearly 85,000 military personnel, more than 14,000 police officers, around 5,700 international civilians and 13,700 national staff serving in 15 current operations in four continents, as stated by the UN.

"On this day of United Nations peacekeepers, focused on the rule of law, we thank the countries who contribute forces to the operations and honor the individuals who serve with such distinction and dedication," stated Ban.

On Sunday, let us all remember and honor those that have sacrificed in the name of peace and stability!

-Gabrielle Gurian