The United Nations (UN) is an international organization made up of almost all autonomous country in the world. It was formed to encourage amicable relations among nations by mediating negotiations and maintaining peace and security. The Peacekeeping Operations of the UN involve preventing and removing threats to peace by calling on peacekeeping police and troops from around the world. These individuals help countries move from conflict to peace and do so by protecting citizens, disarming disagreeing parties, and restoring the law and order. These operations are necessary because global conflicts constantly arise and countries cannot always protect their citizens. Disagreeing governments often desire peace and accord but need additional support to achieve it, and this is where peacekeepers can help. People of many nations serve as UN soldiers, some more than others. The following will take a look at which countries have the highest numbers of peacekeepers.
Countries with the Largest Peacekeeper Contributions
Bangladesh tops the list with 9,432 of their people enrolled in peacekeeping forces. The first Bangladeshi peacekeeping soldiers were deployed in 1988 on a mission as a UN Iran-Iraq Military Observer and to Namibia to take part in the UN Transition Assistance Group. There are a few theories as to why so many peacekeepers come from Bangladesh, most belonging to the armed forces or the police. One theory is that the country wants to gain international credibility, another that the government wants to keep the military involved outside of the country, and finally that the UN pays a higher salary than the local military.
The second highest number of members is found coming from Ethiopia. This country has 8,309 people involved in peacekeeping operations. Ethiopia has been involved in various peacekeeping missions. Of note was the Rwandan Civil War. They also make up more than 90% of the forces in Abyei. This is disputed territory between the Republic of Sudan and recently seceded Republic of South Sudan.
India is next on the list with 7,800 peacekeepers. Despite being number 3 in troop contributions, India has participated in more peacekeeping missions than any other country in the world. The very first all-female police unit, made up of all women police officers, was deployed in 2007 to assist in the UN Mission in Liberia which has recently ended. India has served on the UN Peacekeeping Commission for 3 two-year terms.
Number 4 on the list is Pakistan with 7,533 peacekeeping troops. To date, Pakistan has lost 145 lives during peacekeeping missions with the largest lost in Somalia. They were the first country to respond to the UN mission and sent 500 troops on September 14, 1992.
Criticisms of Peacekeeping Forces
For all the good they attempt to accomplish, even peacekeeping missions come with criticisms. One of the major concerns is the $8 billion budget. England and France have lead the argument that peacekeeping missions must include a plan for withdrawal. Other criticisms include lack of commitment on the part of member nations who first look to national interests before agreeing to deploy troops. Often this results in insufficient response. In addition, peacekeeping missions are criticized for having citizens from poorer countries on the ground while the richest nations provide no support. China, for example, has only recently deployed troops to Sudan. This effort only came after having sold the country $20 million worth of rifles, ammunition, missiles, and rockets. UN peacekeeping missions have also been linked to increases in prostitution and child sexual abuse. In response, the UN created the Brahimi Report which laid out many of the functions in need of improvement. This included reforming peacekeeping operations and improving rapid deployment.