United Nations Peacekeeping Operations commenced in 1948 when the Security Council authorized the deployment of UN Military Observers to monitor and maintain the ceasefire during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. The operation was named as the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO). Since then, United Nations has deployed 57 missions across the globe, 14 of which are ongoing. By this time millions of military personnel including UN police and other civilians from more than 120 countries participated in UN peacekeeping operations.
Photo: UNEF Yugoslav soldiers in Sinai in 1957
In its early days, UN missions consisted of unarmed military observers and lightly armed troops with primarily monitoring, reporting and confidence-building roles. Peacekeeping was primarily limited to maintaining ceasefires and stabilizing situations, providing
crucial support for political efforts to resolve conflict by peaceful means. First UN Emergency Force (UNEF I) deployed in 1956 to resolve the Suez Crisis is the first armed peacekeeping operation. In the 1960s and 1970s, the UN established short-term missions in the Dominican Republic, West New Guinea (West Iran) and Yemen. Later on UN started longer term deployments in Cyprus, the Middle East and in Lebanon. The UN Charter was primarily designed to deal with disputes and conflicts between sovereign states that is inter-state conflicts. During post cold war period intra-state conflict was more prevalent in Peace Support Operation. In 1988, UN peacekeepers were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
With the change of dynamics of world politics and war trends the peacekeeping operations are getting more challenging and demanding every day. With all the challenges peacekeeping operations will continue to strive to facilitate the political process, protect civilians, assist in the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants; support the organization of elections, protect and promote human rights and assist in restoring the rule of law.