United Nations Peacekeeping Operations commenced in 1948 when the Security Councilauthorized the deployment of UN Military Observers tomonitor and maintain the ceasefire during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. The operation was named as the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO). Since then, United Nations has deployed 67 missions across the globe, 15 of which are ongoing. By this time millions of military personnel including UN police and other civilians from more than 120 countriesparticipated in UN peacekeeping operations.
Picture: Monogram of UNTSO
Photo: UN Peacekeeping forces in one of the earlier missions,
Cyprus(UNFICYP) 1967 ( UN Photo)
In its early days, UN missions consisted of unarmed military observers and lightly armed troops with primarily monitoring, reporting and confidence-building roles. Peacekeeping was primarily limited to maintaining ceasefires and stabilizing situations, providing crucial support for political efforts to resolve conflict by peaceful means. First UN Emergency Force (UNEF I)deployed in 1956 to resolve the Suez Crisis is the first armed peacekeeping operation. In the 1960s and 1970s, the UN established short-term missions in the Dominican Republic, West New Guinea (West Irian) and Yemen. Later on UN started longer term deployments in Cyprus, the Middle East and in Lebanon. In 1988, UN peacekeepers were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
With the change of dynamics of world politics and war trends the peacekeeping operations are getting more challenging and demanding every day. With all the challenges peacekeeping operations will continue to strive to facilitate the political process, protect civilians, assist in the disarmament, demobilization and reintegrationof former combatants; support the organization of elections, protect and promote human rights and assist in restoring the rule of law.