Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Austria 2016
International Day of the United Nations Peacekeepers

ISSUE DATE: 29 May 2016

Every year, on 29th May, the United Nations honours those serving in peacekeeping operations and those who have lost their lives in the cause of peace. On the occasion of his year's day of remembrance, Austrian Post is issuing a commemorative stamp with a design showing UN soldiers from Austria raising the UN flag. 

On 29th May 1948 the UN Security Council passed Resolution 50 (1948), in which it authorised setting up the first peacekeeping operation by the United Nations, and since 2002 the International Day of the United Nations Peacekeepers has been celebrated on 29th May in order to honour those men and women who are serving or have served in peacekeeping operations for their high level of professionalism, commitment and courage. On this day, those who have lost their lives in the service of UN peacekeeping operations are posthumously awarded the United Nations' Dag Hammarskjöld medal. The first operations involving UN Peacekeepers took place in 1948 in the Middle East; UNTSO, the United Nations organisation for supervising the truce between the Israeli and Arab warring factions, is still in operation today. Since then the UN Peacekeepers have taken part in 71 operations. Every deployment must be preceded by a resolution by the UN Security Council and must be agreed to by the countries involved or the parties in the conflict. To date more than 120 countries have been involved in the operations and more than 3,300 people have lost their lives as a result of them. It was in 1960, during the Congo Crisis, that, at the suggestion of the UN General Secretary Dag Hammarskjöld, the peacekeeping troops first donned the now familiar blue helmets with the "UN" marking, and since that time they have been referred to as the "Blue Helmets". In 1988 the UN peacekeeping forces were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their commitment to maintaining world peace. Since that time the duties of the peacekeeping troops have been added to continuously. Whilst they were initially only involved in interstate conflicts, over time they have increasingly been deployed in civil wars and conflicts within a state. 

The Blue Helmets' role is not a combat mission, but they are armed. Their tasks include monitoring ceasefires, protecting the civilian population, helping develop peace agreements, stabilising security, reorganising the military and police and monitoring the election and establishment of a democratic government. In addition to their work in many African, Southern and Central American and Asiatic regions, the UN Peacekeepers were and continue to be active in Europe in the conflicts in former Yugoslavia and its successor states and in Cyprus. Austria also provides troops for peacekeeping operations: at the end of 2015, 188 members of the police force or military were in service with the UN. To date 44 Austrian Blue Helmets have lost their lives in peacekeeping operations.

Stamp images thanks to Austrian Post - Österreichische Post
La Poste