United Nations and Australian Peacekeepers

Peacekeepers have played a crucial role in promoting peace and stability across the world. They are an integral part of the United Nations (UN) and have been involved in various peacekeeping missions since the establishment of the UN in 1945.

Australia was the first country to deploy peacekeepers when it sent four observers to the Dutch East Indies on 14 September 1947 and this was followed by a deployment to the Middle East when the United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation (UNTSO) was established on 29 May 1948. Since then, UNTSO military observers have remained in the Middle East to monitor ceasefires, supervise armistice agreements, prevent isolated incidents from escalating and assist other UN peacekeeping operations in the region to fulfil their respective mandates.

One of next key peacekeeping operations was during the Suez Crisis in 1956, where the UN Emergency Force (UNEF) was deployed to the Middle East to supervise the withdrawal of British, French and Israeli troops from Egyptian territory. This marked the first time that UN peacekeepers were sent into a conflict zone.

Since then, peacekeeping has evolved significantly, with more complex operations being undertaken in diverse locations around the world. Some notable examples include the deployment of peacekeepers during the Rwandan genocide in 1993/1994 and the ongoing mission in Darfur, Sudan.

The role of peacekeepers is not limited to maintaining peace during conflicts. They also play an important role in rebuilding societies after a conflict has ended. This includes demobilising and reintegrating former combatants, supporting the restoration of basic services such as healthcare and education, and facilitating the transition to democracy.

In addition to conflict zones, peacekeepers have also been deployed to prevent tensions from escalating into violence. The UN has established Peacekeeping Missions in countries such as Cyprus, where they monitor the buffer zone between Greek and Turkish Cypriots. The United Natons Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) was originally set up by the UN Security Council in 1964 to prevent further fighting between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities. It was also the longest peacekeeping deployment for Australlian Federal Police and state police and on 17 June 2017 Australian ended its participation after 53 years. During this time Australia contributed to 111 contingents to UNFICYP involving more than 1600 officers from all states and territories.

Despite their vital role in promoting peace and stability, peacekeepers face numerous challenges. These include limited resources, political obstacles, and security risks. The safety of peacekeepers themselves is also a major concern, with many losing their lives while serving on missions.

The UN and member states continue to work together to address these challenges and improve the effectiveness of peacekeeping operations. This includes increasing funding for peacekeeping missions, implementing new technologies and strategies, and providing training and support for peacekeepers in the field.

As conflicts continue to arise in different parts of the world, peacekeepers remain an essential tool for promoting international peace and security. Their efforts have helped to save countless lives and bring stability to regions plagued by conflict. The role of peacekeepers will continue to be crucial in resolving conflicts and building a more peaceful world. So, it is important to recognise the sacrifices made by peacekeepers and support them in their mission.

Peacekeepers are not just symbols of hope and peace, but they serve as a reminder that the world can come together to make a positive impact on global issues. Their work is a testament to the power of international cooperation and highlights the importance of working towards a more peaceful and harmonious world for future generations.

Peacekeepers have played a significant role in promoting peace and stability across the world, often at great personal risk. Their efforts have helped to resolve conflicts, rebuild societies, and prevent violence from escalating. As we continue to face global challenges, the work of peacekeepers remains crucial in creating a more peaceful world for all. Let us honor their service and support them in their mission towards a better tomorrow.

Please click here to see the number of operations Australia has participated in since 14 September 1947.