Today is the International Day of UN Peacekeepers, when nations around the world honor a special kind of soldier—one that sets out to establish order and make peace. In 72 years, the UN peacekeepers in blue hats have undertaken 71 field missions and negotiated more than 172 peaceful settlements to end regional conflicts, and enabled people in more than 45 countries to participate in free and fair elections. Many have died in service to the cause of peace. (1945) READ more below – photo by Mikhail Evstafiev, CC
MORE Good News on this Day in History:
- Igor Stravinsky’s ballet score The Rite of Spring premiered in Paris (1913)
- New Zealander Edmund Hillary, and Nepalese Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, became the first to reach the summit of Mount Everest (1953) – BBC interview
- Crosby, Stills & Nash released their debut album which spawned two Top 40 hits: ‘Marrakesh Express‘ and ‘Suite: Judy Blue Eyes‘ (1969)
- Pope John Paul II visited Canterbury Cathedral — the first pontiff ever to do so (1982)
- First elected and civilian head of state in Nigeria took office after 16 years of military rule (1999)
- Space Shuttle Discovery completed the first docking with the International Space Station (1999)
- The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that disabled golfer Casey Martin be given the right to use a cart for riding in tournaments (2001)
Currently, some 125,000 women and men from 120 countries, including civilians, serve in 16 peacekeeping missions, deployed in some of the world’s most challenging and austere environments.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan said, “The demand for UN peacekeeping reflects growing confidence in the Organization’s ability to calm tensions and restore stability.” He noted the growing complexity of peacekeeping operations, which can include organizing elections, enacting police and judicial reform, protecting human rights, conducting mine-clearance, advancing gender equality, disarming former combatants and supporting the return of refugees and displaced people to their homes.
This invaluable work does not come without risk. 3358 peacekeepers from 46 countries have lost their lives to violence, disease or accident.