Peacekeeper is a general term that covers a variety of roles. But all contribute to keeping peace in conflict zones around the world. There are peacekeeper soldiers, peacekeeper police officers, and peacekeeper civilians. Peacekeeper civilians can include medical staff, bus drivers, teachers, employees, contractors, and volunteers. The difference between peacekeepers and non-peacekeepers is where they work. The aim of the former is brokering peace and contributing to the process of peace and stability. The larger peacekeeping missions are the size of towns. They need about every typical service to function. Even the smaller missions need a considerable amount of skilled personnel to function. A small mission in a forested area may need its own fire fighting unit in the case of bush fires. There are endless jobs available in peacekeeping.
Soldiers in uniform in a foreign country come to mind when one thinks of peacekeepers. Whether it be the UN blue helmets in Darfur or the NATO KFOR troops in Kosovo. Whether bearing arms or unarmed. Most peacekeepers are soldiers as only they can display authority in a conflict zone. Peacekeepers no longer have the luxury of being observers and often must use force to keep the peace. The likelihood of getting injured or killed while keeping peace is also a lot higher today. Even so one can make the most difference in this world as a peacekeeper. You can save the world.
The main role peacekeeper soldiers have is to protect civilians from military threats. In conflict zones, government and security fail. Sexual crimes against women and children take place. In certain regions, children are even used as child-soldiers. Peacekeeper soldiers protect this vulnerable population segment. As a last resort, they use force to keep civilians safe. We have seen this in the Balkans and Africa. A successful peacekeeping mission restores effective government and security to an afflicted region. During this process the government forces are often untrained and understaffed. Peacekeeper soldiers assist government forces in their duties while sharing their expertise. In many conflict zones, there are buffer zones keeping the belligerents apart. Peacekeeper troops patrol these zones. Humanitarian aid convoys also need the protection of these kinds of troops.
Peacekeeping military personnel include pilots. Helicopters and planes have an important function in monitoring ceasefires. They also provide humanitarian aid. Keeping tabs on the situation from above has proven to be most effective. The UN mission in Cyprus (UNFICYP) uses helicopters to watch the buffer zone. Moving humanitarian aid and equipment to missions in Africa without airplanes is impossible. The United Nations sees the value that peacekeeping from above offers its missions. NATO struggled to control the situation during the Yugoslav Wars. This changed once authorized to bomb the hostile targets that were preventing peace. To think of peacekeepers without including pilots is not accurate.
Most countries today do not face war and might never face war. Despite this about every country has a trained military force, especially western countries. One can argue that these skills and resources are gone to waste if they are not used. Peacekeeping missions need skilled soldiers and military equipment to actually save lives. The one who receives training in fighting is also the one who is most suited to save lives. A peacekeeper in uniform makes a lot of difference to the well-being of people in conflict zones.
Peacekeeper Police Officers
During warfare, law, and order is usually one of the first givens to fail. Once the armed conflict ceases society can only rebuild if there is law and order. Peacekeeping missions have many police officer peacekeepers from all over the world. They often assist local police, who lack the skills, equipment, and funding. Often times police officers are advisors to local authorities. They also provide security for peacekeeping missions and their personnel. Police peacekeepers protect civilians against crime that comes with the breakdown of government. Warlords and criminal syndicates take over taking full advantage of the lawless environment. Civilians face the hardship of not only war but also a situation where criminals have the upper hand. Crimes against women and children become a major concern. Women police officers play a crucial role with these victims. Criminal threats against civilians are the responsibility of peacekeeper police officers. These officers investigate murders, missing people, genocide and sexual crimes against women. The UN has what it calls Formed Police Units (FPUs) made up of over 150 police officers each. These become the local police force and handle all policing matters. Such as in Kosovo and East Timor where local police services failed completely. Being a police officer is a local career without much international travel. Yet, peacekeeping needs police officers and this opens up a whole new world of experience. The experience that one gains abroad is beneficial for career advancement. Superiors back home regard such experience with respect.
Civilians make up a large and vital group of a peacekeeping mission. These include office workers, doctors, drivers, teachers, handymen and volunteers, and many others. A great variety of skills and experience is available among this group. Experts with years of experience and university degrees. Young professionals gaining their experience after finishing their studies. And volunteers without degrees or experience yet. White-collar and blue-collar workers alike contribute to peacekeeping missions. International staff and local staff. International staff being peacekeepers from abroad and local staff being local hires. Peacekeeper civilians gain unparalleled experience abroad. One may be doing a standard vocation but in a completely non-standard environment. Working with different cultures and mentalities. Dealing with local authorities that may be very different from the ones back home. The opportunity for personal growth and career advancement is limitless. Once you have been part of one peacekeeping mission you will likely want to continue to another one. Peacekeepers are a special breed of people. The standard lifestyle back home is only appealing for the days of retirement. But not all peacekeeper civilians are expatriates. Many missions use local peacekeepers as local skills and languages are much needed. Being a local peacekeeper among your own countrymen is a different experience. This comes with the pride of knowing that you are not only improving the lives of your own people. You are also rebuilding your own country.
Even though volunteers fall under civilians it is worth addressing them again. Peacekeeping volunteers consist of a large number of people across many organizations. One thinks of volunteers as young inexperienced people looking for an adventure. Yet, many organizations allow married couples to volunteer. As not all are young and inexperienced. Volunteers of all ages, backgrounds, and nationalities are present at peacekeeping missions. While they do not get paid, they do receive housing and sustenance. They also have access to many of the peacekeeping mission’s resources. Volunteering as a peacekeeper comes with the opportunity of International travel. The experiencing of new cultures while gaining peacekeeping experience. Above all, it comes with the opportunity to save the world. Many of the conflict zones cannot normalize without the work of peacekeeping volunteers. Today most missions seeking volunteers are in Africa. But, volunteering opportunities are also available in non-conflict zones. These roles are about increasing awareness about conflict resolution and human rights violations. Joining as a volunteer is the easiest way to become a civilian peacekeeper. There is only a need for individuals with the motivation to meet the growing need for volunteers.
If you like the idea of being a peacekeeper you do not need to join the army, the police academy or get a degree. Look at where you stand now, what you have to offer. The likelihood that you have what to offer to a peacekeeping mission is within your grasp. You can start anywhere and go up from there. Volunteers can become employees. Local staff can become International staff. Because you started as a peacekeeper in one role does not mean that you cannot change your role. If your calling is to become a peacekeeper you can search for opportunities today. On the internet by visiting career sites of peacekeeping organizations. You can even approach your local job recruiter. Peacekeepers will always be in demand as long as there are conflicts. There is still a long way to go before we see a world without conflict. Until then people like you can make all the difference.
If you have much experience then peacekeeping is a great way to build your resume. Employers value the talent that has experience in peacekeeping missions. Police officers who are part of peacekeeping missions often receive promotions once back home. Young volunteers return to complete their studies with world experience under their belts. The end result not only being career advancement but also unforgettable experiences. Knowing that you are making a lot of difference. The connections made in peacekeeping missions open endless doors of opportunities. As a peacekeeper, you become an insider. A member of the one club whose only mission is maintaining world peace for all people on every continent.