Updated February 21, 2024
Amidst ongoing conflict in the Central African Republic (CAR), Beatrice Epaye ran for office and won. She faced threats of violence, but UN peacekeepers from MINUSCA, the UN mission in the CAR, worked with local defense forces to keep her safe and ensure she and others like her could be a voice for peace. Her efforts have helped bring the conflict to an end, although violence persists: “I was working with MINUSCA on local peace agreements. Together, we were able to talk to the armed groups so they would sign a ceasefire agreement among themselves.”
Since 1948, more than 2 million peacekeepers have served in 71 missions around the world partnering with people like Beatrice. Over 4,200 of those peacekeepers have lost their lives working not just to prevent violence and protect civilians, but to create conditions for lasting peace including by promoting human rights, rule of law and, critically, political settlements to conflict. Behind each peacekeeper are the UN Security Council and Member States. The members of the Security Council establish missions and set their objectives through Security Council Resolutions. The Member States provide the resources to deliver on those objectives in conflict environments where success is far from certain. Every Member State contributes financially to peacekeeping, with many also providing voluntary contributions. These can range from specialized troops and equipment to political support that is critical in creating momentum towards peace.
Every two years, Member States convene at a Peacekeeping Ministerial to pledge support and innovative responses to evolving security threats. Through these joint efforts, peacekeeping missions, Member States, and their partners are transforming millions of lives. For example:
- Preventing violence on the Golan and in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC): In the Golan, the peacekeeping mission is helping maintain the ceasefire between Israel and Syria and is supervising the disengagement of their forces to help prevent an escalation of tensions and a re-emergence of conflict. Meanwhile, in the DRC, much of the population faces active conflict perpetuated by armed groups. The mission there is conducting patrols to help deter the violence while also enhancing the capacity of local stakeholders to safeguard their citizens. In the province of Ituri, peacekeepers are shielding over 100,000 internally displaced people, while instructors provided by Guatemala are giving specialized training to Congolese armed forces on how to combat armed groups and keep communities safe.
- Protecting civilians in South Sudan. Isolated regions in South Sudan were inaccessible to local and UN security forces, leaving them vulnerable to violence and rape at the hands of armed groups. Member States provided the peacekeeping mission with equipment that enabled them to rapidly respond and set up mobile temporary bases. This innovative, effective approach to security provision has allowed the mission to protect civilians in even the remotest communities.
- Promoting human rights and the rule of law in Kosovo. 24 years after the end of the conflict in Kosovo, the peacekeeping mission is working to support local institutions in enhancing the rule of law and the protection of human rights and help create a stable peace for all in Kosovo. The mission is undertaking joint projects with partner organisations, including the Kosovo Law Institute’s free Legal Aid Centre, which is helping Kosovo residents like Velerda Sopi hold people and institutions accountable for violence, human rights violations and injustice, as an important means of deterring future violations. UNMIK is engaging Kosovo grassroots civil society, media, and institutional representatives to build trust between communities and find a common path for progress towards peace.
- Advancing political settlements in the Central African Republic (CAR). Locally driven political agreements form the bedrock of lasting peace, representing the primary goal of UN peace operations. In 2019, the African Union, backed by the peacekeeping mission in CAR, successfully convened armed groups and the National Government to sign a pivotal peace agreement, laying foundations for a more secure future. It was achieved with political support from Angola, Cameroon, Chad, the Congo, Gabon and the Sudan, as well as the Economic Community of Central African States, showing that member state engagement can make the difference between war and peace.
The 2023 Ministerial in Ghana came at a critical juncture: global conflict-related deaths had surged to a 28-year high, and a quarter of the global population were residing in conflict-affected regions. Against this backdrop, Member States united to confront key challenges in contemporary peacekeeping, addressing critical gaps in capabilities, equipment as well as political support.
The ultimate objective of peacekeeping is to end conflict by helping parties to secure and deliver peace agreements and related political processes. In this endeavor, peacekeeping cannot succeed alone. It requires the united and active engagement of Member States. Another priority is enhancing protection of growing number of civilians affected by conflict and strengthening the safety, security, mental health, and wellbeing of peacekeepers. Ensuring the participation and leadership of women in political processes is also crucial as it is fundamental to achieving inclusive and lasting peace.
The impact of the pledges made in Ghana will go far beyond the conclusion of the ministerial. Past commitments of personnel, equipment, training, and political support provided by Member States helped secure peace in a long list of countries like Cambodia, Timor-Leste, Sierra Leone, Cote d’Ivoire, and Liberia. These new commitments will ensure peacekeeping can succeed in the future, despite the increasingly complex and diverse conflict environments where they are asked to serve. With consistent, proactive, and unified support from member states, peacekeeping can continue to work for peace and prosperity for all.