UN peacekeeping operations traditionally rely on military personnel. Over the last 25 years, police and civilian functions have exponentially grown as a response to new conflicts and emerging threats to peace around the world, but also in response to calls for a stronger “people focus” of peace operations. UN operations are now tasked with maintaining peace but also supporting institutions of governance, human rights monitoring, security sector reform, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants and other critical areas in order to build a truly sustainable peace.
This year’s theme, calling Member States to invest in peace, comes at a particularly relevant time. In a world where most humanitarian crises are triggered by complex conflicts, resources invested in peace have to produce results while increasing their efficiency. This means more investment in conflict prevention, an area where UNV is well positioned to make a difference through the mobilization of youth volunteers to serve on violence prevention and peacebuilding, thus promoting social cohesion in fragile countries.
Three long-standing UN peacekeeping missions, UNOCI in Côte d’Ivoire, MINUSTAH in Haiti and UNMIL in Liberia will come to an end in the following months. UNV and our UN Volunteers have made tangible and effective contributions to these missions and many others. UNOCI, for example, hosted 771 UN Volunteers over the last 10 years. These dedicated individuals served in a wide range of areas, including as legal and civil affairs officers, specialists on movement control and logistics, experts on food and nutrition, human rights officers, engineers and medical doctors.
Around a third of UN Volunteers worldwide are deployed in peacekeeping operations. Over the last 25 years, more than 14,000 UN Volunteers have been deployed to support peace processes in more than 50 peacekeeping and political UN missions, as well as UN peacebuilding offices, around the world. They ensured access to basic social services, justice, conflict resolution, and administrative services to local communities in remote areas amid ongoing conflict.
UN Volunteers serving in peacekeeping missions are deployed under the umbrella of the UNV Peace Programming Section, which manages the portfolios of more than 20 crisis and post-crisis countries across the globe. This is a major undertaking filled with unexpected, dangerous and volatile situations in the field.
Last year, UN Volunteer Ms. Anita Andreevska Mitrovska, an engineer from Macedonia serving in UNOCI, was killed during a terrorist attack that took place in a hotel outside of Abidjan. In 2016, Ms. Om Dorji (Bhutan, UNMIL) and Ms. Salamata Bocar Ly (Mauritania, MINUSCA) also perished in the service of peace.
Peacekeepers put themselves in harm’s way every day while protecting civilians from the effects of physical violence. UN Peacekeepers’ Day is an opportunity to provide due recognition to those that gave their lives to peace and those that devote their lives to its preservation.
UN Volunteers are trusted and valued supporters of peacekeeping missions worldwide. Their service is valued at all levels of the UN system, as evidenced by the inclusion of a UN Volunteer serving in Kosovo, given a leading role in the official video message released by the UN Secretary-General commemorating the day.
The special feature released today on our website pays special tribute to UN Volunteers serving in peacekeeping missions. It provides information on UNV and peacekeeping, concrete examples of UN Volunteers serving in different missions and an overview of future trends in this field.
I encourage you to join us in giving due recognition to those that every day secure a better future for millions.