UN Peacekeeping

Peacekeeping 101

For 76 years, UN Peacekeeping has been one of the most important tools for mitigating conflict and promoting peace and security around the globe.

Helping countries navigate the difficult path from conflict to peace, peacekeeping has unique strengths, including legitimacy, burden sharing, and an ability to deploy and sustain troops and police from around the globe, integrating them with civilian peacekeepers to advance multidimensional mandates. 

Today’s peacekeepers are called upon not only to maintain peace and security, but also to facilitate the political process, protect civilians, assist in the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants. They also play a key role in supporting democratic efforts such as organizing elections, protecting and promoting human rights, and assisting in the creation and restoration of rule of law.

In addition to peacekeeping operations, the UN operates special political missions (SPMs) engaged in conflict prevention, mediation, and post-conflict peacebuilding around the world. Authorized by the Security Council, SPMs are tasked with an array of responsibilities, including supporting political dialogue and reconciliation processes, facilitating free and fair elections, monitoring human rights violations, coordinating international development and humanitarian assistance, and encouraging the development of effective rule of law institutions. Funded by Member State dues, SPMs account for nearly one-quarter of the UN regular budget. The work of several SPMs currently in the field is highlighted below.

Learn more at the UN's home for Peacekeeping


There are currently 11 peacekeeping operations deployed across Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and Asia.


UN Peacekeeping is made up of more than 72,000 field personnel, with 121 countries contributing troops, police, and civilian personnel, including several dozen peacekeepers from the U.S.


According to two reports by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, it is eight times more cost effective for the U.S. to financially support a peacekeeping mission than to deploy U.S. military forces.


As of 2023, women constitute just over 8% of all uniformed military, police, and corrections personnel in peacekeeping missions.


In the last 76 years, more than two million men and women from 125 countries have served in 71 peacekeeping missions worldwide.


As a veto-wielding member of the Security Council, no UN Peacekeeping operation can be authorized, deployed, or withdrawn without U.S. support.

The Value of UN Peacekeeping

While the U.S. itself provides very few troops to these missions (just several dozen personnel in total), its seat on the Security Council ensures that it plays a decisive role in each and every task, including the scope and duration of an operation.

Explore a few of the benefits of peacekeeping.

  • Fosters Global Peace and Security

    Peacekeepers implement a range of stabilization and protection measures, helping to avert the collapse of fragile states, prevent civil wars from metastasizing into full-blown regional conflicts, and decrease the likelihood that dormant conflicts will flare up again. Countries undergoing conflict provide fertile ground for the growth of extremist groups and organized crime, threatening U.S. national security and economic interests.

  • Keeps Costs Down

    Peacekeeping accounts for just 0.5% of total global military spending. Moreover, UN peacekeeping operations are financed collectively through Member State assessments, determined by a formula that considers a range of economic indicators. The five permanent members of the Security Council are assessed at a slightly higher rate due to their veto power and general oversight of missions. The current U.S. rate is roughly 28% of the peacekeeping budget; however, the U.S. contributes just a couple dozen personnel out of the total force of more than 85,000.

    Most importantly, UN peacekeeping operations are significantly less costly than other forms of military intervention. In 2018, using the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) as an example, the Government Accountability Office found that a U.S. operation of roughly the same size and duration would cost at least $5.7 billion – nearly eight times more than the $700 million the U.S. contributed to MINUSCA over the same time period.

  • Spreads the Burden

    UN peacekeeping harnesses the collective resources of the entire international community, ensuring that neither American taxpayers, nor the U.S. military, take on the responsibility of safeguarding international peace and security alone. And with the U.S. role on the Security Council, American interests help shape all peacekeeping missions. Additionally, other UN Member States pay nearly three-quarters of costs associated with missions and contribute more than 99.9% of troops and personnel who serve in them.

  • Counters Extremism

    Terrorism and violent extremism pose a grave and persistent threat to international peace and security. As we’ve learned over the last two decades, terror networks operate in countries frequently beyond the reach of American access and influence, making a comprehensive, multilateral approach to this global problem absolutely necessary.

    The UN is a critical partner in this challenge. The UN’s global efforts to stamp out violent extremism amplify and broaden the reach of our nation’s own counterterrorism initiatives. Peacekeepers play a key role in stabilizing fragile nations, engaging communities, protecting civilians, and promoting peace processes to prevent these regions from becoming terrorist safe havens.