Peacekeepers deliver on global aspiration for safer world: UN Secretary-General

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Secretary-General António Guterres (right) lays a wreath in honour of all peacekeepers who lost their lives while serving under the UN flag. UN Photo/Mark Garten (file)

United Nations peacekeepers are one of the ways the global body delivers on the universal aspiration to make the world a safer place.

That's the message from UN Secretary-General António Guterres in an editorial published in US newspaper ‘The Boston Globe’ on Monday, the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers.

More than 3,500 blue helmets and UN staff have died in the service of peace.

Dianne Penn reports.

UN peacekeeping has saved and improved countless lives over the past 70 years, the Secretary-General stated.

With the UN peacekeeping budget representing less than half of one per cent of global military spending, it also is cost-effective, he added.

That cost is shared by all 193 UN Member States, and Mr Guterres said studies indicate that UN peacekeeping missions "are an estimated 8 times more cost-effective than when the US acts alone."

Furthermore, the investment pays off in terms of the economic growth and prosperity that follow from the increased stability and security that peacekeeping brings.

"Peace in our world may seem like an abstract concept," the UN chief wrote.  "But peace on the ground depends on gruelingly hard work, every day, under difficult and dangerous conditions. The world relies on United Nations peacekeepers to go where others cannot and will not, despite the many obstacles they must confront. "

Mr Guterres also spoke about what he called the "new reality" facing blue helmets who sometimes are deployed to places where warring parties show little commitment to peace.

UN operations also are increasingly being targeted by parties to conflict, as well as violent extremists, meaning that they must adapt to these "dangerous and challenging environments," he said.

While reforms have been implemented to reduce the costs of peacekeeping, Mr Guterres stated that more action needs to occur, and he pledged to work with partners to ensure peacekeeping "has the tools and rules it needs."

The UN chief also spoke of efforts to address cases of sexual exploitation and abuse, which have  tarnished UN peacekeeping in recent years.

They include a plan aimed at ending impunity and establishment of victims' rights advocates in the field and at UN Headquarters.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 1’57″

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