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International Peacekeepers Day 2024: UNA-UK co-hosts conference on peacekeeping

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memorial ceremony at cenotaph in london with un peacekeepers and diplomats in attendance

On 23 May, UNA-UK, together with the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) and United Nations Association - Westminster Branch, held our annual Peacekeepers Day Conference.

The annual Peacekeepers Day Conference is the UK’s most authoritative public review of UN peacekeeping activities – bringing together UN practitioners, diplomats, civil society, and military personnel for a discussion of the most pressing issues in peacekeeping today. This year the conference covered many important topics, including the role of women in peacekeeping, how UN peacekeepers can be better supported, and a reflection on the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) at 60 years.

The opening session was chaired by Ian Martin, and featured commentary from Whit Mason (RUSI Associate Fellow) on strategic communications and from Dr Alexandra Novosseloff (Centre Thucyduide of the University Paris-Pantheon-Assas) on effective intelligence gathering.

The panel discussed the importance of effective communication, particularly in countries where there is tension between the peacekeeping forces and the host country and the protection of the legitimacy needed for the UN to function effectively. Although methods of sharing intelligence are somewhat limited, it is a crucial element to international intervention and must be handled appropriately. Peacekeeping can take time, and although the last of quick results are often criticised, the UN has the advantage of being a multilateral organisation. 

The keynote session - delivered in memory of Count Folke Bernadotte - was given by SRSG Colin Stewart, Head of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus, reflecting on 60 years of the UN Peacekeeping mission in Cyprus.

This was followed by The Margaret Anstee Session titled ‘Caring for Peacekeepers’. Barbara Cleary, Chair of Security Women, chaired a discussion between Lt Col Sophie Gregory, Col Dr Manal Abu Al Ghanam and Col Si Horne on the experiences of women in peacekeeping and also looking at building medical capacity through training and mentoring of peacekeepers. The closing keynote address, delivered by Professor Neil Greenberg, built on themes discussed in the Margaret Anstee session by exploring the support that is - and can be - provided to the mental health of peacekeepers.

The conference concluded with remarks from RUSI.

Peacekeepers' Day Memorial Ceremony

UNA-UK’s annual memorial ceremony in remembrance of peacekeepers who have lost their lives in the service of global peace also took place on 23 May.

Representatives of over 80 Embassies and High Commissions across London, as well as representatives from HM Government, the Armed Forces and other national organisations, gathered to lay wreaths and reflect on those lost in conflict. 


Photo: UNA-UK’s annual memorial ceremony in remembrance of peacekeepers, 2024. Credit: UNA-UK.

See more photos of the wreath-laying below: