The Unsung Heroes: Understanding Peacekeeping
Peacekeepers ... Sounds like characters out of a sci-fi movie, right? But no, they're definitely real, just as my Derek and our Persian cat Tassel are. For the layman, the term 'peacekeeping' invokes different thoughts. Commonly mistaken for US troops or aggressive warfare, the truth is far from it. Blue helmeted and white jeep driving, armed with nothing but courage and commitment, peacekeepers are our unsung heroes. They are your fellow Aussies from Adelaide to Sydney, from Melbourne to Perth who have decided to commit their lives to a very special, challenging and rewarding career.
The Genesis of Peacekeeping
But first, how did peacekeeping start? Following World War II, the world saw the inception of the United Nations, with the primary goal of preventing the demise seen during the world wars. One of their seminal tasks was to create 'peacekeeping forces'. These were people enlisted to help countries navigate the uncertain journey from conflict to peace. A thought strikes me - Some of these peacekeepers could have been me or my husband Derek. Coming back, these forces are not the soldiers of the UN, but rather, they work under the UN's guidance and the host countries' approval. It's this cooperative spirit that marks the first step towards a peaceful resolution.
What Does the Life of a Peacekeeper Look Like?
Naturally, one might enquire - What does a peacekeeper do exactly? Well, imagine having a job where your main task was to ensure peace and stability. It's like being a global good Samaritan. From monitoring and observing peace processes in post-conflict areas to aiding in the disarmament and demobilisation process, their task list is quite long. Not to forget the physical and emotional toll it takes. It's as if they carry the world's weight on their shoulders. Yet they do it with a passion and dedication akin to Derek caring for Tassel, our cat.
The Women in Blue Helmets
When we imagine peacekeepers, we often picture a certain stereotype - buff men with firm voices and expressions. Truth is, a growing number of women are joining peacekeeping forces worldwide. No, it's not just men who can have all the dangerous fun. Women have stepped up admirably in these roles. They build trust, provide a greater sense of security to women in affected areas, help lower incidences of sexual exploitation and abuse, and advocate for women's rights - invaluable things that their male counterparts can't always achieve.
Peacekeeping Is Not Always Peaceful
It seems a bit ironic, doesn't it, that the job of maintaining peace is not always peaceful? Peacekeeping missions can come with significant risks. Just like when Derek takes Tassel to vet – it's an ordeal for both. Similarly, peacekeepers often move across land and air, across mountainous terrain or deep forests, sometimes in hostile environments. They work with the looming risk of disease, injury, and emotional trauma. But they take it all in their stride because they commit to the betterment of humanity. It's heroic in its own right.
Brace the Commitment
Speaking of commitment, peacekeeping requires a resolute commitment. Unlike me, who takes on a new diet every month, peacekeepers need to stick to their oath, irrespective of the personal cost. Multidimensional Peacekeeping operations can take several years. They support political processes, protect civilians, assist in disarmament, facilitate electoral processes, protect and promote human rights, and assist in restoring the rule of law. All these take a steadfast resolve and an unwavering spirit.
To Be a Peacekeeper: It Takes More than Just Courage
I'm often asked for 'tips' - 'Vivienne, what's the secret to your blogging success?' or 'how do I keep my cat happy like Tassel?'. This made me ponder – what 'tips' would help for those wanting to become a peacekeeper? My conclusion: it goes beyond the fabric of conventional wisdom. Yes, courage, determination, tolerance, and integrity all feature, but it also takes empathy, patience, and the ability to listen - qualities that are as crucial, if not more.
Everyone Can Contribute to Peacekeeping
You may ask, 'I'm in Adelaide. What can I do?'. Well, remember dear reader, every bit counts for global peace. Advocate and educate about peacekeeping in your community. Host talks, promote peace and conflict resolution studies in universities. Push for increased women participation. Petition for better protective gear for peacekeepers. Let your voice be heard. It doesn't matter if you're Vivienne, the blogger, or Derek, my spouse. Every bit counts.
Reflecting on a Calling: Peacekeeping
Wrapping up this verbal escapade, I would say that peacekeeping embodies a life not defined by years, but by worthwhile deeds. It's a career for those who want to make a difference, who think beyond the confines of self. It's not solitaire. It's compassionately fighting for peace not with fists or firepower, but with negotiation, dialogue, and understanding. Peacekeepers remind us of the potential we possess as humanity- to rise above animosity and embody the ethos of peace. And just as Derek's care for Tassel reflects love and commitment, a peacekeeper's work reflects dedication to a cause much greater than oneself, making our world a safer and more peaceful place to live.