The day was established to pay tribute to all the men and women who have served and continue to serve in UN peacekeeping operation and for their high level of professionalism, dedication and courage. It also honors the memory of all those who peacekeepers who have lost their lives in the cause of peace.
The theme for the 2016 International Day of UN Peacekeepers is ‘Honouring our Heroes.’
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his message to mark the day said: “They manifest the best attributes of global solidarity, courageously serving in dangerous environments to provide security to some of the world’s most vulnerable.”
The UN peacekeepers often known as the Blue Helmets, monitor and observe peace in conflict areas and assist in implementing peace agreements. This includes confidence building measures, power-sharing agreements, election support and strengthening the rule of law in the country.
However, every peacekeeping mission is authorized by the United Nations Security Council. The United Nations Charter gives the Security Council the power and responsibility to take collective action to maintain international peace and security. The forces are contributed voluntarily by member states.
Pakistan is one of the largest contributors of manpower to the UN peacekeeper forces. Along with India and Bangladesh it contributes almost 8,000 units each.
Since 1948 more than 3400 peacekeepers have lost their lives serving in conflict regions around the world. Today, there are more than 124,000 military, police and civilian personnel deployed in 16 peacekeeping operations on four continents. More than one million people either from the military, police or even civilians have served in the force till today.
The peacekeeping force has now evolved as one of the most effective tool to manage crises which threaten international peace and has help to protect people at risk from conflict and war.
While the official International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers is on 29 May, UN Headquarters in New York celebrate it on 19 May. The Secretary-General presides over a wreath-laying ceremony and give posthumous awards to those who have lost their live serving for peace under the flag of the UN.