​International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers

International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers

29 May is the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers.The day has two purposes:

to honour the memory of the UN peacekeepers who have lost their lives in the cause of peace; 

to pay tribute to all the men and women who have served and continue to serve in UN peacekeeping operations for their high level of professionalism, dedication and courage.

Peacekeepers Day 2013

On 29 May, UN offices, alongside Member States and non-governmental organizations, hold solemn events to honour fallen peacekeepers. Since the first UN peacekeeping mission was established in 1948, more than 3,100 military, police and civilian personnel have lost their lives in the service of peace as a result of acts of violence, accidents and disease.

Adapting to new challenges

International peace and security needs are changing rapidly and this year we are using Peacekeepers Day to focus on how UN Peacekeeping is ‘Adapting to new challenges’.  

UN Peacekeeping is being given new mandates to meet new challenges. We are being asked to deploy in new operating environments such as Mali, a vast desert nation where international terrorists continue to threaten national sovereignty and local people.

In response we are developing innovative approaches to get the job done in the most challenging conditions. For example the deployment of an ‘Intervention Brigade’ and the use of ‘Unarmed Aerial Vehicles’in the DR Congo.

More than ever, UN Peacekeeping is a flexible tool. While we are increasingly called upon to deploy large-scale multidimensional peacekeeping operations, we remain  flexible enough to rapidly deploy small-scale monitoring missions, such as in Syria in 2012.

Events around the world

At the UN Headquarters in New York, the Secretary-General on 29 May will preside over a wreath-laying ceremony in honour of all peacekeepers who lost their lives while serving under the UN flag.

In addition, the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal is awarded posthumously to the peacekeepers who have fallen while serving in the cause of peace, during the preceding year.

UN peacekeeping operations will use the Day to strengthen bonds with the local populations that they have been deployed to serve. For example by holding sporting events, school and orphanage visits, art and essay competitions, photo exhibits, neighbourhood clean ups, tree plantings, concerts, and conferences and workshops on peace issues.

Previous Peacekeepers Days

The UN General Assembly designated Peacekeepers Day in 2002 [A/RES/57/129 ]. In recent years, we have encouraged the celebration of the Day under a common theme:

2012: Peacekeeping is a Global Partnership – highlighting the variety of partnerships we have at every stage of our work.

2011: Law. Order. Peace – focusing on our efforts to strengthenrule of law.

2010: Ayiti Kanpe (Haiti Standing) – remembering the earthquake in Haiti that resulted in the death of 102 UN personnel, including 97 peacekeepers;

2009: Women in peacekeeping – the important role of womenpeacekeepers;

2008: 60th anniversary of UN Peacekeeping.