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How To Become a UN Peacekeeper

Happy International Day of UN Peacekeepers! Find out how to get your blue helmet. Read on.

Sep 6, 2023
  • Student Tips
How To Become a UN Peacekeeper

Happy International Day of UN Peacekeepers!

This year, the UN celebrates 70 years of Service and Sacrifice by paying tribute to the uniformed and civilian personnel who have served under the UN flag.

In 1948, the Security Council authorized the deployment of UN military observers to the Middle East to establish the UN Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) to "monitor the Armistice Agreement between Israel and its Arab neighbors."

Since then, over one million people have served the in 71 peacekeeping operations all over the world.

Currently, UN peacekeeping deploys over 100,000 military, police, and civilian personnel in 14 operations across four continents, as countries transition from war to peace.

How to become a UN peacekeeper? Find out how. There are multiple pathways:

1. Follow your country's guidelines

In general, you'll probably need to be a part of your country's military and an employee of the UN. To apply with the peacekeepers, you need to apply within your own country first.

If you're not military, you can also apply to be UN police. UN peacekeeping forces also employ engineers, pilots, and drivers.

Bottom line? If you're not police or military, you can serve as a civilian volunteer.

Your country of origin matters. US applicants must be citizens with five years of experience in professional law enforcement to serve as police. Ex-officers can apply for year-long positions.

Currently, Ethiopia is the UN's number one provider with 8,326 peacekeepers supporting UNAMID in Darfur Sudan. South Asian counties also have a high number of peacekeepers.

The biggest funder? The US.

2. Understand the stakes

They're high.

According to the UN, 56 UN peacekeepers died violently in the line of duty in 2017--the highest number of fatalities since 1994.

Why? The UN deploys peacekeepers to conflict zones--the Central African Republic, Mali, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and other war-ravaged regions.

Peacekeepers not only have tough jobs--their lives are at stake.

3. Learn lots of languages

Want to make yourself marketable to the UN? Know how to speak several languages.

At a minimum? Speak French and English in addition to your first language. Other helpful languages include Russian, Chinese, Spanish, and Arabic.

Why? The more languages you know, the more likely it is that you develop an ear for language. What does this mean? It means that you'll have a lot of options on where you can serve.

4. If you're a woman, don't hesitate

The UN is not immune to gender parity issues. Women's roles in UN peacekeeping missions span the police, military, and civilian positions.

In 2012, women comprised just three percent of the military and 10 percent of police personnel.

Currently, women comprise about 30 percent of the international civilians in peacekeeping.

Where's the gender equality? There's a gap, just like everywhere else. The UN has called for more female peacekeepers to amplify current peacekeeping

In addition to traditional roles, women can serve other, more nuanced roles. For example, in Afghanistan, "Female Engagement Teams" infiltrated the male-dominated culture by interacting with local women, gaining their trust, and then sharing information about Taliban recruitment sites.

Learn more about peace studies.