UN Peacekeeping is one of the UN’s broader efforts to build and sustain global peace. Learn eight interesting facts about the missions and contributors.

8 Fast Facts about UN Peacekeeping Missions

After the end of the Cold War and at the turn of the 21st Century, the international community had successfully ended significant global armed conflicts and reduced the numbers of deaths from organised violence.

But as the Global Peace Index results show, peacefulness has declined in many parts of the world since then.

Peace operations are considered part of the United Nation’s (UN) broader efforts to build and sustain peace around the world.

Multidimensional peace operations fulfil a range of tasks, such as protecting civilians and human rights, disarming and de-mobilising combatants, and restoring the rule of law.

1. In the last 25 years, the number of active UN Peacekeepers has doubled

While the number of active missions has hovered around 20 for the past 25 years, the number of deployed personnel has doubled. At the beginning of 1993, the UN deployed roughly 50,000 personnel, compared to 100,000 active peacekeepers in February 2017.

The increase implies a promising prospect: the international community is more willing and able than ever before to respond to conflict.

However, an increase in the resources devoted to violence containment should not be equated with a more peaceful world. Peacekeepers increasingly find themselves operating in armed conflict contexts, rather than post-conflict environments.

2. Low or lower-middle income countries contribute the most to UN peacekeeping

Since the turn of the century, at least half of contributed peacekeepers have come from UN member states classed as low or lower-middle income earners.

By 2015, the proportion of peacekeepers from low or lower-middle income countries had reached 80 per cent.

Bangladesh provides the most blue helmets out of any troop and police contributing country.

3. Six missions are over 26 years old

There have been over 70 UN Peacekeeping operations since the first deployment in 1948. More than 50 of these commenced in the last 25 years.

On average UN Peacekeeping mission lasts 31 months. Six missions have continued for longer than 26 missions, including:

  • United Nation’s Truce Supervision Organisation in the Middle East (1948)
  • UN’s Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (1949)
  • The UN’s Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (1964)
  • UN’s Disengagement Observer Force in Golan (1974)
  • The United Nation’s Interim Force in Lebanon (1978)
  • United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (1991)

4. There are 12 active missions in the world today

Contemporary peace operations reflect the diverse roles peacekeepers play. The United Nations Mission in Colombia (2016 – 2017) reflected the traditional role of peacekeepers.

Unarmed international observers monitored and verified the disarmament and ceasefire agreement signed in the 2016 peace process.

On the other hand, the United Nations Support Office in Somalia, which also had its first deployment in 2016, will support the active UN and African Union missions in Somalia with activities ranging from providing medical care to coordinating logistics.

5. Peacekeeping is no longer only a post-conflict activity

The trend of peacekeeper deployments to countries with an active armed conflict increase since the turn of the century.

In 2015, just over half of the 100,000 active peacekeepers were deployed in a country with an active armed conflict, such as Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In 2014, the UN Secretary-General commissioned a High-level Independent Panel on Peace Operations for a comprehensive review of how UN peace operations can be “more effective, efficient and responsive in a changing world.”

The review underscored that political solutions to armed conflict are critical to peacekeeping, as peacekeepers are increasingly deployed to places where “there is no peace to keep.”

6. Fatal attacks on peacekeepers has fallen in recent years

Non-violence is at the core of the UN Peacekeeping’s mission.

One of the three main principles of the United Nations Peacekeeping missions is the non-use of force except in self-defence and defence of the mission’s mandate. Since 1948, 3,844 fatalities of UN Peacekeepers have been recorded.

Fortunately, the rates of attacks on peacekeepers fell in the last 25 years, from 1.6 deaths per 1,000 people deployed in 1993, to less than 0.4 since the turn of the century.

7. 94% of missions are in Africa and the Middle East

Regionally, the majority of peacekeepers have been deployed to sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East and North Africa since the early 1990s. In 2016, the UN deployed 94% of peacekeeping personnel to these two regions.

8. The top ten financial contributors to UN peacekeeping are…

  • United States (27.89%)
  • China (15.21%)
  • Japan (8.56%)
  • Germany (6.09%)
  • United Kingdom (5.79%)
  • France (5.61%)
  • Italy (3.30%)
  • Russian Federation (3.04%)
  • Canada (2.73%)
  • Republic of Korea (2.26%)

(2019 figures)

We originally published this article in February 2019, and updated it since to reflect new UN figures.



Vision of Humanity

Editorial Staff

Vision of Humanity

Vision of Humanity is brought to you by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), by staff in our global offices in Sydney, New York, The Hague, Harare and Mexico. Alongside maps and global indices, we present fresh perspectives on current affairs reflecting our editorial philosophy.