Through the diplomatic efforts of the General Assembly and Security Council, the UN works tirelessly to promote peace, encourage disarmament, and counter terrorism. Perhaps the UN’s most notable peace efforts are through the deployment of UN Peacekeepers. With 125,000 military, police, and civilian personnel in 16 missions, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) oversees the second largest military force in the world.
While a military force, UN Peacekeepers are unique in that their allegiances are not to a particular nation or region, but to the broader goals of global peace and security. For this reason, peacekeepers do not take sides in conflict, but instead work to protect civilians, facilitate humanitarian assistance, prevent human rights abuses, and maintain security. In so doing, UN Peacekeepers have saved countless lives, contributing immeasurably to global peace and security.
Today, the largest concentrations of peacekeepers can be seen in the Democratic Republic of the Congo where there are 26,211 troops, police, UN volunteers and more. Large concentrations of peacekeeping personnel can also been seen in Mali, South Sudan and Darfur.
How the UN is creating solutions
Leaders of more than 50 countries gathered for a peacekeeping summit to discuss today’s peacekeeping operations and the future capabilities of these missions. Heads of State and governments signed up to recommit themselves to modernizing UN peacekeeping operations by helping to meet capacity gaps, improve the performance and capabilities of uniformed personnel, support rapid deployment and reinforce and enhance the foundation for future peacekeeping efforts. The 120 countries that currently contribute peacekeepers disarm, demobilize and reintegrate ex-fighters, strengthen rule of law and security institutions and promote human rights. According to UN News Centre, “The Summit comes at a time when peacekeeping missions are unprecedented in scale of operation and scope.” While the United Nations has shown extraordinary leadership in advancing issues of world peace, NGOs, student groups, and individual activists all play an essential role in crafting a more peaceful future for our world.
Sustainable Development Goal 16 works to ensure peace, justice and strong institutions worldwide. To do this, policy makers must significantly reduce all forms of violence and related death rates everywhere, develop effective, accountable and transparent institutions at all levels and ensure responsive, inclusive and representative decision-making at all levels.