HomeWorldUN peacekeeping on 75th anniversary: Successes, failures and many challenges

UN peacekeeping on 75th anniversary: Successes, failures and many challenges

UN peacekeeping on 75th anniversary: Successes, failures and many challenges

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Over the past 75 years, the United Nations has sent more than 2 million peacekeepers to help countries move away from conflict, with successes from Liberia to Cambodia and major failures in former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. Today, it faces new challenges in the dozen hotspots where U.N. peacekeeping has operations, including more violent environments, fake news campaigns and a divided world that is preventing its ultimate goal: successfully restoring stable governments.

The organization marked the 75th anniversary of U.N. peacekeeping and observed the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers on Thursday with a solemn ceremony honoring the more than 4,200 peacekeepers who have died since 1948, when a historic decision was made by the U.N. Security Council to send military observers to the Middle East to supervise implementation of Israeli-Arab armistice agreements. For the 103 peacekeepers added to the list in 2022, medals were accepted by ambassadors from their 39 home countries.

READ MORE : United Nations Day celebrated by the International Peace Corps Association

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres asked the hundreds of uniformed military officers and diplomats at the ceremony to stand for a moment of silence in their memory. And at the start of a U.N. Security Council meeting on peace in Africa, all those in the chamber stood in silent tribute to the fallen peacekeepers.

The secretary-general told the ceremony after laying a wreath at the Peacekeepers Memorial that what began 75 years ago “as a bold experiment” in the Mideast “is now a flagship enterprise of our organization.” For civilians caught in conflict, he said, peacekeepers are “a beacon of hope and protection.”

U.N. peacekeeping operations have grown dramatically. At the end of the Cold War in the early 1990s, there were 11,000 U.N. peacekeepers. By 2014, there were 130,000 in 16 far-flung peacekeeping operations. Today, 87,000 men and women serve in 12 conflict areas in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East.

There have been two kinds of successes, U.N. peacekeeping chief Jean-Pierre Lacroix said in an interview Wednesday with The Associated Press. Those are the long list of countries that have returned to a reasonable degree of stability with the support of U.N. peacekeeping, including Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, Mozambique, Angola and Cambodia, and the countries where peacekeepers are not only monitoring but preserving cease-fires like in southern Lebanon and Cyprus.

As for failures, he pointed to the failure of U.N. peacekeepers to prevent the 1994 Rwanda genocide, which killed at least 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and Hutus, and the 1995 massacre of at least 8,000 mostly Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica during the war in Bosnia, Europe’s only acknowledged genocide since the Holocaust during World War II.

The U.N.’s reputation has also been tarnished by numerous allegations that peacekeepers charged with protecting civilians sexually abused women and children, including in Central African Republic and Congo. Another high-profile blunder was the cholera epidemic in Haiti that began in 2010 after U.N. peacekeepers introduced the bacteria into the country’s largest river by sewage runoff from their base.

The Crisis Group’s Gowan told AP it’s pretty clear that the U.N. is “trapped” in some countries like Mali and Congo where there aren’t enough peacekeepers to halt recurring cycles of violence. Some African governments, including Mali’s, are turning to private security providers like Russia’s Wagner Group to fight insurgents, he said.

“I think we should be wary of dumping U.N. operations outright,” Gowan said. “We have learned the hard way in cases like Afghanistan that even heavily armed Western forces cannot impose peace. The U.N.’s track record may not be perfect, but nobody else is much better at building stability in turbulent states.”

By Edith M. Lederer

Disclaimer: This report is auto generated from the AP NEWS. Diplomat Times holds no responsibility for its content.