A guide to UN peacekeeping missions

Did you know that of the 16 United Nations (UN) current peacekeeping operations, three have been underway for over 50 years? Indeed, two of these have been going for over 65 years!

If, like us, you sometimes get confused by all the acronyms by which these operations are known, we thought we’d give you a brief summary of each. We have only detailed the “uniformed personnel” and the figures are accurate as of 31 August 2015. The others are civilians, either international, local or UN volunteers. The fatalities figures include accidents, illness and malicious acts for both uniformed and civilian personnel and are accurate to 31 October 2015.

After receiving training by UNMAS staff, MINUSMA EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) Company from Cambodia leaves Bamako Airport to be deployed to Gao, North of Mali.

After receiving training by UNMAS staff, MINUSMA EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) Company from Cambodia leaves Bamako Airport to be deployed to Gao, North of Mali.

 

  • The UN Truce Supervision Organisation (UNTSO) is the veteran operation. It has been going in the Middle East since May 1948 and involves 381 personnel, of whom 146 are military observers. There have been 50 fatalities over the years (0.74 per year).
  • The second longest-running operation is the UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) that has been going since January 1949 and currently involves 115 people of whom 43 are military observers. There have been 11 fatalities (0.16 per year).
  • The third oldest is the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), deployed on the Mediterranean island since March 1964. Its current strength is 1,094 personnel of whom 879 are troops and 64 police. There have been 183 fatalities (3.6 per year).
  • And if you thought Syria was a “new” problem, think again. The UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) has been there since June 1974. Today there are still 956 personnel there of which 798 are troops. There have been 46 fatalities in the past 41 years (1.15 per year).
  • The UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), has been deployed since March 1978. It remains in the top three of the UN’s peacekeeping operations in terms of personnel deployed, involving 11,352 people of whom 10,483 are troops. There have been 308 fatalities (8.32 per year).
  • The UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) was launched in April 1991 and has staff of 482 of whom 27 are troops, 195 are military observers and four are police. There have been 15 fatalities (0.62 per year). And the referendum in which the people of Western Sahara would choose between independence and integration with Morocco still hasn’t been organised!
  • The UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) began in June 1999. Its current strength of 366 includes eight military observers and eight police officers. There have been 55 fatalities (3.43 per year).
  • The UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) was launched in September 2003. It currently involves 6,541 personnel of whom 3,659 are troops, 120 are military observers and 1,378 are police. It has suffered 191 fatalities (15.9 per year).
  • The UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) has been going since April 2004 with 8,031 personnel of whom 5,238 are troops, 180 military observers and 1,488 are police. There have been 136 fatalities (12.4 per year).
  • The UN Stabilisation Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) was launched in June 2004. There are 6,269 personnel involved of whom 2,195 are troops and 2,514 police. There have been 181 fatalities (16.4 per year).
  • The African Union-UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) has been in this region of western Sudan since July 2007. It is the second biggest UN peacekeeping operation with 21,357 personnel involved of whom 14,391 are troops, 177 are military observers and 3,226 are police. There have been 224 fatalities over eight years (28 per year), the second highest amongst UN peacekeeping operations.
  • The UN Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) has been in operation since July 2010. It is currently the UN’s largest peacekeeping operation, with 23,438 personnel of whom 17,793 are troops, 481 are military observers and 1,178 are police. There have been 95 fatalities (19 per year).
  • The UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) has been in Sudan since June 2011. There are currently 4,721 personnel including 4,385 troops and 112 military observers. There have been 19 fatalities (4.75 per year).
  • The UN Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS), launched in July 2011 is amongst the larger peacekeeping operations. It’s current strength lies at 15,106 including 11,410 troops, 193 military observers and 1,130 police. There have been 38 fatalities (9.5 per year).
  • The UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) started in April 2013. It’s current strength lies at 12,893 personnel including 10,481 troops and 1,030 police. There have been 68 fatalities (34 per year) making it by far the most lethal of the UN peacekeeping operations.
  • The UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) was launched in April 2014. It involves 11,644 personnel including 9,150 troops, 151 military observers and 1,530 police. There have been 11 fatalities so far in the one year of operation.

    Lieutenant General Ahmed Maqsood, Military Advisor for DPKO at MISCA on 6 July 2014.  UN Photo/Catianne Tijerina

    Lieutenant General Ahmed Maqsood, Military Advisor for DPKO at MISCA on 6 July 2014.
    UN Photo/Catianne Tijerina