29 May 2018
The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) paid tribute today to thousands of its personnel who have served under the United Nations flag as it marked the International Day of UN Peacekeepers.
The UN is celebrating this year the 70th anniversary of the UN Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), its first peacekeeping mission, which was established on 29 May, 1948, to supervise the Armistice Agreements between Israel and its Arab neighbours.
Major General Tim Gall, the Commander Joint Forces New Zealand, said the NZDF had been contributing personnel to UN peacekeeping missions for nearly seven decades.
“Thousands of our personnel have served the cause of peace since 1952, when we sent three New Zealand Army officers to Kashmir to form part of a UN Observer Group that supervised the ceasefire between India and Pakistan. They have done our country proud with their service in what are often complex and challenging environments,” Major General Gall said.
“Although the operating environment has changed markedly since then, our commitment to international peace and security remains steadfast.”
New Zealand has contributed personnel to UNTSO since 1954. This mission is the NZDF’s longest peacekeeping deployment and its largest single contribution to a UN-led peacekeeping operation.
Apart from UNTSO, the NZDF currently contributes personnel to UN peacekeeping missions in Mali, South Korea and South Sudan.
The NZDF has also taken part in numerous UN missions in the past, including in Angola, Bosnia, Cambodia, Iran, Kosovo, Namibia, Somalia, Syria and Timor-Leste.
Major General Kristin Lund, the Head of Mission and Chief of Staff of UNTSO, said troop-contributing countries like New Zealand had helped advance the cause of peace in the Middle East.
“The contribution of the NZDF and allied militaries to UNTSO is significant,” Major General Lund said.
“The UNTSO would not be able to conduct its mission to support the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) and UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in implementing their mandates without military contributions from countries like New Zealand.
“While the functions of our military observers have changed throughout the years, we have always remained as a go-between for hostile parties and as the means by which isolated incidents could be contained and prevented from escalating into major conflicts.”
Currently 124 UN member states contribute more than 100,000 military, police and civilian personnel, as well as equipment, to 14 peacekeeping operations on four continents.
Video detailing NZDF’s role in UNTSO is available from the attached Dropbox link: