Today, The Veterans Day on May 29th we honor the service and sacrifice of the courageous men and women serving under the flag of the United Nations with the mission of peace. That mission, which dates back nearly 70 years, is central to the purpose of the United Nations and indispensable to the peace and security of the globe.
Nearly 130,000 courageous UN peacekeepers from 122 countries serve the cause of peace, nearly two-thirds in conflict areas where they operate under robust and demanding mandates often at great personal risk. This is by far the greatest number of active peacekeepers in history – a fact that reflects the steadfast determination of the international community to respond.
UN is and has been a significant Swedish global security interest. Sweden’s contributions do not only build on the proud tradition of Folke Bernadotter (the first UN official mediator), but also on the many lessons learned and the best practices derived from both the successful and the more or less flawed peace operations. Many critical experiences have been gained at a high price, such as in Afghanistan.
Peace operations remain in the eyes of both conflict parties and the international community generally one of the most useful conflict management tools available today. However, the presence of non-state actors as well as terrorist groups, underlines that the challenges grow ever more complex. Africa remains the focus of most UN peace operations: it is the continent with the largest number of such operations. In light of increasingly demanding missions, high expectations and a changing geopolitical environment, the issue of implementing relevant instrument to ensure the protection of all – women, men, boys and girls – persists.
And just as the demand for peacekeeping has grown in recent years, so have the demands placed on those missions. Mission mandates have evolved in critically important ways to address the most pressing needs on the ground, including the protection of civilians. While we ask more of peacekeepers, we as a global community must strive to ensure that they possess the necessary training, tools, support and resources to advance the cause of peace.
We look forward to continuing work with our partners to strengthen UN peacekeeping, including at the Summit that President Obama will co-host this fall, on the margins of the U.N. General Assembly high-level week. We’ll need effective partnership with all nations for a future safe and secure. The United States supports such requirements through robust capacity building programs such as the Global Peace Operations Initiative and International Police Peacekeeping Operations Support.
– SIPRI Yearbook launch: Peace operations, conflict management and the role of gender..
Preliminary findings suggest that there were more wars in 2014 than any other year since the year 2000. The impact of the conflict is already apparent in Ukraine, which is increasing its military spending significantly and several Central and North European countries bordering Russia have also announced increases in their military spending as a direct response to the crisis.
In Middle East: The longer-term international peace and security implications of Iraq and Syria conflicts remain both complex and uncertain. And we are deeply concerned about the situation in Libya, including reports of ISIL-affiliated groups there.
The conflict has had even more catastrophic consequences for the Syrian people. As of January 2015, the conflict had claimed more than 206 000 lives, another 840 000 wounded and more than 85 000 people are reported missing. Close to 4 million Syrians of a total population of 22 million have fled the country seeking refuge in neighbouring countries, and another 7.6 million are displaced within Syria.
With these population movements comes a growing humanitarian crisis that has disastrous implications for the country and the region.
SIPRI Yearbook 2015 tends to reinforce the tentative conclusion presented in the 2014 edition—that the positive trend towards less violence and more effective conflict management witnessed over the past decade has been broken.