Every year on May 29, the United Nations marks the International Day of UN Peacekeepers. It serves as a chance to pay tribute to the civilian and unformed personnel who have served under the UN flag down through the years. The very first UN peacekeeping mission was established on May 29, 1948, when the Security Council authorized the deployment of a small number of military observers to the new State of Israel where a ceasefire was in place after a conflict with Arab states. More than 4,000 UN peacekeepers have died on international missions since then with 130 losing their lives in 2020 alone. The task remains as dangerous as ever and it has been made increasingly difficult by the rise of groups such as ISIS and Boko Haram, not to mention the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
More than 1 million men and women have served on 72 UN peacekeeping missions since 1948 and 89,000 military police and civilian personnel are currently deployed on 12 missions. The UN states that Bangladesh was the top contributing country as of March 2021 with 6,608 peacekeepers deployed while Rwanda provided the second largest contribtion with 6,335. Ethiopia rounded off the top three with 6,245. Commenting on the 2021 International Day of UN Peacekeepers, Secretary General António Guterres stated that "United Nations peacekeeping helps nurture peace in some of the world’s most dangerous places. Today and every day, we salute the dedication and bravery of our peacekeepers in helping societies turn away from war and towards a safer, more stable future".