International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers

The “International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers”, Takes place annually May 29, “to pay tribute to all the men and women who have served and continue to serve in United Nations peacekeeping operations for their high level of professionalism, dedication, and courage and to honor the memory of those who have lost their lives in the cause of peace”.

It was introduced by United Nations General Assembly Resolution on December 11, 2002, after an official request of the Ukrainian Peacekeepers Association and the Government of Ukraine to the UN General Assembly and first celebrated in 2003. The date, May 29, marks the anniversary of the creation of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) in 1948 to monitor the ceasefire after the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, which was the first ever UN peacekeeping mission.

United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) is an organization founded for peacekeeping in the Middle East. Its primary task was providing the military command structure to the peace keeping forces in the Middle East to enable the peace keepers to observe and maintain the cease-fire, and as may be necessary in assisting the parties to the Armistice Agreements in the supervision of the application and observance of the terms of those Agreements. The command structure of the UNTSO was maintained to cover the later peace keeper organisations of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) and the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).

The day is marked at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City with the presentation of the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal, statements by the President of the General Assembly and the Secretary-General, as well as a press release regarding the state of UN Peacekeeping missions and the continued necessity of their work. There are also observances around the world; often countries will honor their own peace heepers abroad, but the UN also organizes festivals, discussion forums, and memorials in cooperation with local and national groups. In 2009, the UN put a special focus on the role of and need for women in peace keeping, both as role models and also to serve in a number of gender-specific capacities.

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