Australia’s peacekeeping missions since 1947

Australians have served in peacekeeping roles every year since 1947. The first Australian peacekeepers were deployed to the Netherlands East Indies (now Indonesia).

Their intense experience of observing the front between Netherlander troops and Indonesian republicans foreshadowed the experiences of generations of Australians to come.

Global peacekeeping operations

Australia as a leader in its region has led or taken a leading role in:

  • UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) from 1992 to 1993
  • Multinational Peace Monitoring Group in Bougainville from 1998 to 2003
  • Multinational International Force for East Timor (INTERFET) from 1999 to 2000
  • Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) from 2003 to 2017.

United Nations missions

In 1945, during the final months of World War II, representatives of 50 nations met to talk about the role and structure of the United Nations (UN). The UN officially started on 24 October 1945 with 51 member states. Its role was, and remains, to maintain international peace and security. Today, the UN has 193 member states.

Australia played an important role in the formation of the UN and represented the interests of smaller, less powerful nations. Since then, the Australian Government has continued its support for the UN: Australia is firmly committed to effective global cooperation, including through the United Nations (UN) and its specialised agencies and regional commissions. Engaging with the multilateral system is a key pillar of Australia’s foreign policy. This is because we live in a complex, inter-connected world where countries cannot address on their own some of the major challenges we face today.

The Australian Government has provided peacekeepers and resource support to many UN-led peacekeeping missions.

However, not all Australian operations have involved the UN.

United Nations Security Council Chamber

The United Nations Security Council Chamber in New York, also known as the Norwegian Room, 17 December 2006
Commemoration of Australians

With so many Australians having been involved in often-dangerous peacekeeping operations over the years, some Australians have been killed or suffered injury and trauma.

In earlier decades, people debated how to commemorate the service of peacekeepers. It’s now recognised that although some aspects of peacekeeping are unique, the operational experience of peacekeepers is war-like service.

Roll of Honour

The Australian War Memorial records the names of Australia’s war dead. The Council of the Memorial made a historic decision on 6 March 2013 to change the criteria for the Roll of Honour to include Defence personnel who died in non-warlike operations. The council added the names of Australian peacekeepers to the Roll of Honour that day.

Australian Peacekeeping Memorial

A national memorial on Anzac Parade in Canberra was officially dedicated by the then Governor-General, Sir Peter Cosgrove, on 14 September 2017.

The memorial commemorates the contribution made ‘in the service of peace’ by Australian defence personnel, police and civilians.

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