Ukraine has actively participated in the UN peacekeeping activities since the very first years of its independence. It has become a significant troop-contributing country, as well as a staunch supporter of the UN peacekeeping operations (UN PKOs). More than 37 thousand military and civilian personnel of Ukraine discharged their noble mission under the UN flag in about 20 peacekeeping operations and missions around the globe.
The geography of Ukraine’s participation in the UN peacekeeping operations and missions has covered Afghanistan, Angola, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, DR Congo, East Timor, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Georgia, Guatemala, Iraq, Kosovo, Lebanon, Macedonia, Sierra Leone, Tajikistan, Yugoslavia, and other countries. Besides, through those years Ukraine provided its air lift services for conducting the UN humanitarian operations in Africa.
More than 500 "blue helmets" (461 servicemen and 67 policemen) are currently representing Ukraine in 7 UN peacekeeping operations (DR Congo, Cyprus, Kosovo, Côte d'Ivoire, Liberia, South Sudan and East Timor).
52 Ukrainian peacekeepers lost their lives while serving with the UN peacekeeping operations.
It was due to Ukraine’s initiative that the Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel, which entered into force on 15 January 1999, was elaborated and adopted in 1994. In September 2006 the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine signed the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel.
In 1994, Ukraine declared its first military and civilian resources to the UN Standby arrangements. In 1997, Ukraine became the ninth Member State, out of more than seventy troop-contributing states, who signed with the United Nations the Memorandum of Understanding concerning its contributions to the UN Stand-by Arrangements. Since then the contribution of Ukraine to that system was doubled and several times diversified.
In 1997, Ukraine and Poland signed an Agreement on the formation of a joint peacekeeping battalion of 800 men strong, which became fully operational in 1999. Since July 2000 the Ukrainian-Polish peacekeeping battalion and since December 2002 Belgium-Luxemburg-Romanian-Ukrainian battalion has been serving with the UN Security Council-mandated operation of the international force in Kosovo (KFOR).
Based on Ukraine’s initiative and initial drafts, the 53rd and 63rd sessions of the UN General Assembly adopted the Declarations on the Occasion of the Fiftieth and Sixties Anniversaries of the United Nations Peacekeeping at its commemorative meetings held on 6 October 1998 and 7 November 2008 respectively.
During the 57th session of the General Assembly all UN Member States supported the initiative of Ukraine to designate 29th of May as the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers, to be observed annually to pay tribute to all the men and women who have served and continue to serve in United Nations peacekeeping operations for their high level of professionalism, dedication and courage, and to honour the memory of those who have lost their lives in the cause of peace.
Ukraine’s active participation in the UN PKOs gave a strong impetus to substantial strengthening of the national legislative base in this field. As a result of the two year work to that end, in April 1999 the Verkhovna Rada (Parliament) of Ukraine adopted the law “On Participation of Ukraine in the International Peacekeeping Operations”, which comprehensively reflected trends in the development of international peacekeeping activities and provided the most diversified opportunities for Ukraine’s participation in them. In June 2009 the President of Ukraine has signed “A Strategy of the International Peacekeeping Activity of Ukraine”.
In 2012-2013 several important events related to Ukraine’s peacekeeping activity took place. In particular, the Ukrainian military helicopter unit in the UN Mission in Liberia was involved in strengthening of the UN Operation in Côte d'Ivoire; Ukrainian peacekeeping contingent was sent to the UN Stabilization Mission in DR Congo.
Ukraine remains committed to strengthening the leading role of the United Nations in maintenance of peace and security and enhancing its peacekeeping capabilities.