Peacekeeping is when countries send military or police personnel to places that have had a war or conflict to try to keep the peace. Peacekeeping missions are usually led by the United Nations or other international organisations.
New Zealand’s involvement in peacekeeping
New Zealand has been involved in peacekeeping since the 1950s. It is in New Zealand’s interests to help keep other countries stable, and being involved in peacekeeping is also good for its relations with its allies.
Peacekeeping during the Cold War, 1950s to 1980s
Between the 1950s and the 1980s – a period called the ‘Cold War’ – New Zealand sent troops to:
- Kashmir, a region which India and Pakistan were fighting over
- the new state of Israel and its environs
- the Sinai region between Israel and Egypt.
Peacekeeping in the 1990s
After the Cold War, most conflicts were within countries (civil wars) rather than between countries. In the 1990s New Zealand was involved in more than 20 operations to support peace, including:
- clearing mines in Afghanistan
- overseeing elections in Cambodia
- providing aid and assistance in the former Yugoslavia during a civil war.
Peacekeeping in the Pacific
New Zealand was also involved in peacekeeping closer to home. Soldiers or police were sent to:
- the island of Bougainville, where there was fighting between Papua New Guinea forces and groups that wanted to become independent
- East Timor, which voted in favour of independence from Indonesia in 1999, leading to conflict between pro- and anti-Indonesian forces
- Solomon Islands, where there was internal violence
- Tonga, after riots in 2006.