The Auschwitz Institute recognizes today, May 29, as the annual International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers. This year the United Nations commemorates the 75th anniversary of UN Peacekeeping. The theme for this year's Day is "Peace Begins with Me," which recognizes the service and sacrifice of both past and present United Nations peacekeepers, as well as the resilience of the communities they serve who continue to strive for peace despite numerous obstacles.
In 2002, the United Nations General Assembly designated Peacekeepers Day as an annual observance to honor individuals who have served as United Nations Peacekeepers since the inception of operations in 1948, and to remember those who have lost their lives in the pursuit of peace. Over the past 75 years, over 2 million men and women have fulfilled peacekeeping duties under the UN flag in over 72 operations in the world's most fragile political and security situations. Tragically, over 4,290 peacekeepers have lost their lives. Currently, more than 87,000 military, police, and civilian personnel from 125 countries are serving in 12 ongoing peacekeeping operations.
To commemorate the Day, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres laid a wreath as a tribute to all peacekeepers who have lost their lives while serving under the UN flag over the past seven decades, honoring their exceptional contributions to international peace and security. In his message for the 2023 International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers, Guterres explained:
United Nations peacekeepers are the beating heart of our commitment to a more peaceful world. For 75 years, they have supported people and communities rocked by conflict and upheaval across the globe.
In carrying out this essential work, many peacekeepers have paid the ultimate price. More than 4,200 peacekeepers have lost their lives serving under the UN flag. We stand in sympathy and solidarity with their families, friends and colleagues, and will forever be inspired by their selfless devotion to the cause of peace.
On this International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers, the Auschwitz Institute pays homage to and acknowledges the efforts of United Nations Peacekeepers in protecting civilians caught up in the chaos of these deadly conflicts. Moreover, AIPG celebrates the invaluable role of UN Peacekeepers in facilitating peaceful transitions of power, assisting in demilitarization, and protecting processes for dialogue, reconciliation, human rights, and the rule of law, thereby preventing future violence. They perform vital work in preventing mass atrocities around the world.