Today, 14 September, marks the 64th anniversary of Australia’s contribution to international peacekeeping efforts.Australiahas a long and very proud history of supporting United Nations (UN) and regional peacekeeping operations.
In 1947, Australia helped monitor observance of the ceasefire between Dutch and Indonesian forces, the first nation to have personnel on the ground in any modern peacekeeping operation.
Since then, more than 30,000 Australians have served around the world as peacekeepers.
Peacekeeping is a vital element in Australia's contribution to international peace and security which has brought hope to countries riven by conflict. Australian peacekeepers have saved lives, helped communities, helped societies and helped rebuild nations.
During his recent visit to Australia, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon paid tribute to Australia’s contribution to international peacekeeping efforts. Australian peacekeepers have served in Africa, Europe, Central America, the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific region.
Australia continues that noble tradition to this day. Currently over 600 Australian peacekeepers are serving overseas, including in the Middle East, East Timor and Solomon Islands. Australia’s contribution to the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus has been the longest continuous peacekeeping commitment of any country to a UN peacekeeping operation.
When meeting the UN Secretary General earlier this month, I reiterated Australia’s offer of 25 Australian Defence Force (ADF) peacekeepers to the new UN Mission in South Sudan. This commitment would see ADF peacekeepers help South Sudanbuild a peaceful and secure future.
I pay special respect to the 13 Australians who have died while serving with peacekeeping operations. A service to commemorate Australian Peacekeepers’ day will be held today at Anzac Parade, Canberra.
The Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Warren Snowdon, will attend the service.