International Day of UN Peacekeepers

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2024 Date29 May 2024
2025 Date29 May 2025

International Day of UN Peacekeepers

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International Day of UN Peacekeepers History

The International Day of UN was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 2002. In South Africa, the International Day of UN Peacekeepers is observed as a tribute to the significant contribution of South African peacekeepers and to express gratitude for this vital work that supports peace and stability globally. This day also honors those who have lost their lives in the line of duty.

South Africa has a proud history of contributing to various UN peacekeeping missions since the 1990s. South African soldiers served in peace operations in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), among others. Currently, South Africa is a significant contributor to the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC, with over 1,200 troops deployed.

The day is marked by wreath-laying ceremonies at various UN peacekeeping monuments and memorials across the country, including the Wall of Remembrance at the Department of Defence in Pretoria. Schools and communities are encouraged to join in celebrating this special day and honouring the courageous work of peacekeepers. The International Day of UN Peacekeepers is observed worldwide on the 29th of May each year.

Facts about United Nations Peacekeepers

  • The total budget for UN peacekeeping operations for the fiscal year 2022-2023 is approximately $6.45 billion.
  • The United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) is currently the largest peacekeeping mission, with over 14,000 personnel deployed.
  • Over 120 countries contribute troops and personnel to UN peacekeeping missions. The top contributors are Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Nepal, and Egypt.
  • In 2011, Major Catherine Labuschagne became the first female fighter pilot in the South African Air Force to fly in a UN peacekeeping mission.
  • In 1999, South African President Nelson Mandela received the Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize on behalf of the United Nations Peacekeeping Operations.

Top things to do in South Africa for this observance

  • Explore several stories about the UN's peacekeeping efforts.
  • Learn more about the UN Peacekeeper and their operations.
  • Watch a documentary to better understand the role of UN Peacekeepers in South Africa. Here are our top picks:
    1. Life In South Africa: Mandela's Children (2013) - A short documentary about South Africa's youth, culture, and politics, focusing on the legacy of Nelson Mandela's vision for a free and democratic South Africa.
    2. Invictus (2009) - A drama film based on a true story, depicting how Nelson Mandela used the 1995 Rugby World Cup to unite a racially divided South Africa. The movie also highlights the role of the UN and the international community in supporting the country during this time.
    3. Endgame (2009) - A British drama film about the process of ending apartheid in South Africa. It showcases the secret negotiations between leaders of the African National Congress and South Africa's apartheid government and highlights the role of various international actors in the peace process.
  • Read a book to learn more about the role and history of UN Peacekeepers in South Africa. Here are our picks:
    1. Peacemaking, Peacekeeping, and the United Nations in an Era of Regional Conflict: South Africa - The United Nations Operation in the Congo, 1960-1964 by Toussaint K. Onema.
    2. South Africa and UN peacekeeping: from apartheid to democratization, 1989-2009 by Annette Seegers and Lindsey Hughes.
    3. Conflict Resolution and Peacekeeping in Southern Africa: The Role of the United Nations by Abdul S. Minty.
    4. One Hand Cannot Clap by Itself: South Africa's New Strategic Partnerships in UN Peacekeeping by Georgina Hines.
    5. South Africa's Role in United Nations Peacekeeping Operations: Challenges and Complexity by Charles L. Janson and Annette Seegers.

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