“Peace on earth!”, the angels had declared when Jesus Christ was born, but peace in the true sense has remained elusive for 2000 years. The United Nations was founded on 24 October 1945, after the end of World War II. Member countries agreed to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours, and to unite their strength to maintain international peace and security.
In a world full of conflicts, the UN has been working in two different ways, first by trying to bring countries to the negotiating table, and if that fails then keeping peace by force. Peacekeeping by the UN has proved to be most effective in enabling host countries to navigate the difficult return path from conflict to peace.
Currently there are 16 UN peacekeeping missions in operation in various conflict zones around the globe. They also help to support the organization of elections, protect and promote human rights and assist in restoring the rule of law. India has always played a major role in UN peacekeeping. So far India has taken part in 43 UN peacekeeping missions with a total contribution of 180,000 troops.
Peacekeeping costs the UN around 8 billion dollars a year. However, by way of comparison, this is just half per cent of what all countries together spend on their defence expenditure!
In a world which is never free of conflicts and wars, peace always seems to be a distant goal and the task of peacemakers remains difficult and hazardous. No wonder that Jesus made a special mention of them, saying, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)