May 29th was the International Day for Peacekeepers. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders wishes to pay a special tribute to the more than 100.000 men and women, originating from 122 countries, who serve with dedication under the flag of the United Nations in the fourteen peacekeeping operations deployed around the world. Through their engagement and their courage, they embody the ideals of the United Nations.
The Minister’s thoughts go out to all Blue Helmets who have lost their lives while carrying out their peacekeeping mission. Didier Reynders expresses his sympathy to the families and the countries of the Peace Soldiers who died in the course of last year.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the important resolution of the United Nations Security Council giving peacekeeping operations a mandate to use all necessary means to protect civilians in danger.
Since the first resolutions on the protection of civilians (link is external) in 1999, which then pertained to the operations of the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL), the role of the United Nations in the protection of civilians was considerably strengthened.
The UN Blue Helmets are most often deployed in areas where civilian populations are in the greatest danger. They are specifically tasked to protect the most vulnerable persons in conflicts: displaced populations, people fleeing their houses, or those threatened because of their religion, age, ethnicity or gender. Blue Helmets fulfill this important task in a growingly difficult environment.
In the framework of its mandate at the United Nations Security Council in 2019-2020, Belgium is attentive to the fact that, in terms of protection of civilians, mandates of United Nations missions need to be altogether ambitious, realistic and understood by the people. To meet this requirement, our country pleads to provide peacekeeping operations sufficient financial and operational means. We will continue to support the process to reform these operations.
Belgium deploys more than a hundred military personnel within MINUSMA and participates, also in Mali, in the European Union Training Mission (EUTM).