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Weekly Blog - 1 June 2024 - UN Peacekeepers

 

UN Peacekeepers

This week on Wednesday 29 May, the world marked the International Day for UN Peacekeepers.  UN peacekeepers are drawn from the armed forces of multiple nations, but they operate under the UN banner.  They do not invade countries in conflict, rather they are invited into nations with the consent of all parties as part of a peace deal to monitor and maintain that peace.  More than 2 million people have served as UN peacekeepers over the last 76 years, 4200 of them have lost their lives in that service.  There are currently 11 UN peacekeeping operations around the world in countries such as Kosovo, India and Pakistan, Lebanon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan.  They have a highly effective track record at maintaining peace and building stability, as UN Secretary-General António Guterres says “United Nations peacekeepers are the beating heart of our commitment to a more peaceful world.  For 76 years, they have supported people and communities rocked by conflict and upheaval across the globe.” [1]

 

Getting to peace

The Bible is clear that God also yearns for peace in every country, right around the world.  The Psalms tell us, “He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth.  He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire.” (Psalm 46: 9)  One of the issues that a major report from Arise, the Arise Manifesto, looks at in detail is what works best to reduce and end conflicts.  Since the Second World War, the nature of most wars has been changing dramatically.  Despite rare but tragic exceptions like the invasions of Ukraine by Russia in 2014 and 2022, and the current volatile international environment, most conflicts today, and in recent decades, are civil wars within nations, rather than major conflicts between nations.  Such conflicts often involve multiple factions and drag on for decades causing immense suffering and misery.  All the lessons from the Bible and history indicate that the most successful way to end such conflicts if for enough political pressure to be brought, both within the country and from the international community, to force the opposing factions to the negotiating table.  There they should agree a peace deal, which reconstitutes a new political settlement in the country that addresses the underlying concerns that are driving the conflict and is inclusive enough to ensure all the major factions have an interest in making it work (Arise Manifesto, pg 129 – 136).

 

Maintaining peace

Once such a process is underway, UN peacekeepers can play a vital role.  Their presence in the country can provide a crucial neutral security guarantee to keep factions apart and keep the peace in a volatile environment.  They increase stability in the early phases of peace negotiations and the roll out of a new settlement.  Among other things, such a force can give armed factions confidence that they can disarm safely without fear of retaliation.  UN peacekeeping operations have an impressive record of success around the world.  They can also be used in combination with ‘over the horizon guarantees’ whereby other neutral nations make a commitment to intervene to maintain the peace if conflict re-erupts, thus providing a further stabilising security guarantee without having to deploy.  This effectiveness of such peacekeeping missions is increasingly widely recognised by security, conflict, development and international relations experts.  For example, in a key paper from the Peace Research Institute Oslo, Peacekeeping Works, a number of academics find, “Several studies have identified particular pathways through which UN Peacekeeping Operations (PKOs) are effective peacebuilders.  PKOs substantially de-creases the risk that conflicts spread from one country to another; de-escalates conflict; shortens conflict duration; and increases the longevity of peace following conflict … Peacekeeping works.  The more the UN is willing to spend on peacekeeping, and the stronger the mandates provided, the greater the conflict-reducing effect … We estimate that an ambitious UN peacekeeping policy will reduce the global incidence of armed conflict by two thirds relative to a non-PKO scenario.” [2] (Arise Manifesto, pg 133 – 134)

UN peacekeeping really does work.  It is a crucial force for good in the world.  Let’s be grateful for the courageous men and women from multiple nations who are serving in this way around the world today.

 

Find out more

Find out more about how God is at work in the world, and the role we all have to play in that work, in the Arise Manifesto.  This report is Arise’s big picture, researched, Biblical, holistic and practical vision for a better world.  It looks at what the Bible says, and what we can learn from the best data and the world’s leading experts on the five major areas of evangelism, discipleship, social justice, development and the environment.  It then draws these lessons together into a practical road map for the changes we need to see in our world, which the Arise movement campaigns to achieve.

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[1] International Day of UN Peacekeepers, 29 May, UN, https://www.un.org/en/observances/peacekeepers-day

[2] Peacekeeping Works, PRIO, (2015), http://file.prio.no/publication_files/PRIO/Hegre,%20Hultman,%20Nyg%C3%A5rd%20-%20Peacekeeping%20Works,%20Conflict%20Trends%201-2015.pdf

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