Rank-and-file soldiers on peacekeeping missions do not swear allegiance to the United Nations. Governments that volunteer personnel carefully negotiate the terms of their participation - including command and control arrangements. They retain ultimate authority over their own military forces serving under the UN flag, including disciplinary and personnel matters, and may withdraw their troops if they wish. Peacekeeping soldiers wear their own national uniforms. To identify themselves as peace-keepers, they also wear blue berets or helmets and the UN insignia.
The cost of UN peacekeeping personnel and equipment peaked at about $3 billion in 1995, reflecting the expense of operations in the former Yugoslavia. Peacekeeping costs fell in 1996 and 1997, to $1.4 billion and some $1.3 billion, respectively - and estimated budgetary requirements for 1998 are expected to drop to under $1 billion.
All Member States are obligated to pay their share of peacekeeping costs under a formula that they themselves have agreed upon. But as of 15 March 1998, member states owed the UN $1.7 billion in current and back peacekeeping dues. The United States is by far the largest debtor, owing $958 million.
Since 1945, there have been 48 United Nations peacekeeping operations. There are currently 16 under way. Thirty-five peacekeeping operations were created by the Security Council in the years between 1988 - when UN peacekeeping operations were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize - and June 1998:
In Angola, UN mediation led to the 1994 peace accord and to the installation of a government of national unity in 1997, formally uniting a country devastated by 20 years of civil war. A UN operation is in place to help put the peace accord into effect. The UN also continues to provide humanitarian assistance to the Angolan people.
In Somalia, after the outbreak of civil war in 1991, the UN brought relief to millions facing starvation and helped to stop the large-scale killings. From 1992 to 1995, two UN operations sought to restore order, protect delivery of humanitarian relief, promote reconciliation and help reconstruction. Under difficult conditions, various UN agencies continue to provide humanitarian assistance.
The UN helped secure peace in Mozambique. The UN Operation in Mozambique (ONUMOZ) was deployed in the country in 1992 to help put into effect the peace agreement between the Government and the Mozambican National Resistance. ONUMOZ monitored the cease-fire, verified the demobilization of combatants, coordinated humanitarian aid and observed in 1994 the country's first multi-party elections, which led to the peaceful installation of a new Government. Today, the World Bank, the UN Development Program and other parts of the UN family are working with the Government to help forge the economic and social progress needed to underpin the democratic process.
The UN helped end the 12-year conflict in Cambodia and organized the 1993 elections that led to the installation of a new Government. Earlier, the Secretary - General had used his "good offices" in the search for peace, helping to mediate the 1991 peace accord. The UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia was then deployed to supervise the cease-fire between the parties, disarm combatants, repatriate refugees, and organize and conduct the elections.
In Afghanistan, mediation by a UN envoy led to the 1988 agreements between Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Soviet Union and the United States aimed at ending the conflict. To help put the agreements into effect, the UN deployed an observer mission, which also verified Soviet troop withdrawal. The Secretary - General and his envoys have continued to work for a peaceful settlement of the continuing civil war. UN agencies provide assistance to the some 2.3 million Afghan refugees.
...in the Americas
The UN has helped resolve protracted conflicts in Central America. In Guatemala, UN-assisted negotiations resulted in the 1996 peace accord, ending a 35-year conflict during which over 100,000 people were killed. The UN began supervising talks between the Government and the Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity in 1991. In 1994, two agreements opened the way to a settlement of the conflict, and led to the deployment of the UN Mission for the Verification of Human Rights in Guatemala. The Mission has remained in the country to help put into effect the peace accord.
In 1990, the UN observed the first democratic elections in Haiti. After a military coup in 1991 forced the President into exile, the UN mediated an agreement for the return to democracy. As Haiti's military leaders did not comply with the agreement, the Security Council authorized in 1994 the formation of a multinational force to facilitate the leaders' departure. After the landing of a United States - led multinational force, the exiled President returned to Haiti in 1994. A UN peacekeeping force, which took over from the multinational force in 1995, contributes to stability in the young democracy.
In El Salvador, the Secretary - General assisted in peace talks between the Government and the Farabundo Mart? National Liberation Front (FMLN). His mediation led to the 1992 peace agreement between the Government and FMLN, which ended the 12-year conflict. A UN Observer Mission monitored all agreements concluded between the parties and observed the 1994 elections.
A UN mission deployed between 1989 and 1992 contributed to ending the fighting in Nicaragua. It helped demobilize some 22,000 members of the Nicaraguan resistance (also known as "contras"), who in 1990 turned in their weapons to the UN. Another mission observed the 1990 elections - the first UN-observed elections in an independent country.
Throughout Central America, UN specialized agencies and programs are working hand in hand to ensure that refugees are safely repatriated and provided with the tools to start over. They also provide training for civil servants, police, human rights monitors and legal professionals to promote good governance and the rule of law.
Following the 1995 Dayton-Paris peace agreements, four UN missions were deployed to help secure the peace in the former Yugoslavia. The largest of them, the UN Transitional Administration in Eastern Slovenia, was established to govern this area and help reintegrate it into Croatia.
From 1991, the UN worked strenuously to resolve the conflict, providing at the same time relief assistance to some 4 million people. To help restore peace, the UN imposed an arms embargo in 1991, while the