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  • A UN peacekeeper with the mission in Mali, which closed in December 2023.  Photo by Harandane Dicko/MINUSMA.
    A UN peacekeeper with the mission in Mali, which closed in December 2023. Photo by Harandane Dicko/MINUSMA.

How did UN peacekeeping help in a year marked by war?

The past twelve months have been remarkably challenging. It was “a year of enormous suffering [and] violence,” UN Secretary General António Guterres acknowledged. “Wars are growing in number and ferocity.” Conflict-related deaths reached a 28-year high, with full quarter of humanity living in conflict-affected areas.  

In some of the world’s most deadly conflicts, UN teams worked hard to promote peace and deliver humanitarian assistance, but UN Member States remained polarized and divided and despite the growth in conflict. 

Amidst these challenges, in 2023 88,000 peacekeepers from 125 countries served in 12 missions around the world, partnering to protect and advance peace for millions of people.  They helped support political solutions to conflict, supported ceasefires, protected civilians from violence, protected human rights, and helped to build state capacity in key areas that will help countries maintain security without UN support. They also took on tasks like helping humanitarians deliver aid to communities in need, observing and monitoring, and removing explosive remnants of war to address immediate threats to populations. Fifty-nine of those peacekeepers gave their lives in the service of peace.  

Below are some examples of how peacekeeping is having an impact for people around the world.

Despite this progress, growing division among Member States often limited peacekeeping operations’ ability to perform their vital work. In Mali, the Transitional Government d requested the abrupt withdrawal of the Mission after a decade of work. 

The remaining missions cannot succeed alone. In 2024, they will work to strengthen performance, and find innovative solutions to rapidly evolving challenges. But their success depends on whether the UN membership is willing to harness the power of multilateral solutions. With Member State support, peacekeeping has led to extraordinary results over its 75-year history, transforming countries such as Cambodia, Liberia, Namibia, Sierra Leone, and Timor Leste. Only working together can we continue be a force for peace for the millions of people in the world who depend on the Blue Helmets every day.