Peacekeeping and the United Nations Digibook


Australians have been involved in peacekeeping since 1947. They were part of the first United Nations mission to Netherlands East Indies (now Indonesia). Since then they have served all over the world. Peacekeepers go to countries where there is, or has been conflict. They try to keep or bring peace. Sometimes peacekeepers provide security or help to rebuild communities. Not all peacekeepers are members of the Defence Force. They might also be police or civilians. Peacekeepers have many roles including doctors, nurses, translators and engineers.

What is the UN?

The United Nations (UN) is an international organisation that seeks peace and security for the world. The Second World War left many countries devastated by violence and in crisis. Delegates from 50 nations came together in 1945 to write and sign the UN charter. All countries agreed to work together for peace and to avoid another world war. Today the goal of the UN is to maintain peace and security, provide humanitarian aid and protect human rights. The UN has 193 member states. Australia has been a member of the UN since 1945.

The goal of the UN

The UN Charter was an agreement to try and prevent war by maintaining peace around the world. Peacekeeping is one of the tools used to achieve this purpose.

There are 3 guidelines for UN peacekeeping operations.

  1. Peacekeepers can enter a country when the main parties in the conflict agree.
  2. Peacekeepers find ways to work fairly, impartially and successfully with all of the parties in a conflict.
  3. Peacekeepers don't use force unless as a last resort.

Not all Australian peacekeeping operations have involved the UN, but all operations have been made up of international forces.

Peace operations

Peace operations take place in areas of conflict or war. At times this can put people serving on these operations in difficult or dangerous situations. There is no average mission. They are all different. The goal for all missions is to settle conflict and restore peace. The UN does not have its own army or police force. Member states contribute military and police personnel. They wear their countries' uniform with the blue UN beret or badge. There are 4 elements to UN peace operations. Australians may be deployed to perform one or more of these roles.


Peace keepers work with groups in conflict. They are often sent in after a ceasefire or peace agreement. Peacekeepers are military, civilian and police personnel all working together. They may be lightly armed or unarmed. Police peacekeepers are usually unarmed. Peacekeepers are active in making sure peace agreements are followed. They do not takes sides in a conflict. They help all parties on the path to peace. This helps to restore stability and protect civilians.


Peacemakers work to end conflict by bringing parties together to form peace agreements. They seek to find non-violent solutions, and to make people feel safe and secure. A peacemaker is impartial like an umpire. They help to negotiate between the parties. They also make sure that international laws are followed. Peacemakers work with government and non-government groups. On peacemaking operations force can be used but must be in proportion to the threat.


Building peace has an important role in UN peace operations. Peacebuilders work with governments and local people. They teach people to resolve disputes without violence. Strategies like local peace committees play a vital role. Peacebuilders also help communities rebuild after a war or conflict. They might arrange UN volunteers to train people so they can earn regular income. The goal of peacebuilding is to create long lasting peace in a conflict zone. It may take considerable time to achieve this goal.

Peace enforcement

Peace enforcers are sent to areas of conflict or war. Their job is to restore peace in an area or region. Peace enforcers face dangerous groups and hostile governments. Military armed forces are used to achieve their goal. Peace enforcers are usually more heavily armed than peacekeepers. They are unique because they do more than stand between those in conflict. They have a goal to protect civilians and regions with an appropriate level of force.

Roles of women

Women serve in all areas and all levels of peacekeeping operations. They may be in the military, police or civilians. UN peace operations aim to reflect the people they help. Women have a positive impact on all aspects of peacekeeping. In some places women can have greater access to the local community. This helps to promote the rights of women and children, protect civilians and work with leaders. Female peacekeepers are often mentors and role models for women and girls.


The UN keeps constant watch over international events. It is bound by rules and listens to its member states. Maintaining peace around the world is vital for all citizens. Australian peacekeepers have a proud tradition of service. For more than 75 years they have worked towards world wide peace. Defence force, police and civilians have been involved in all aspects of peacekeeping. At times their jobs may be dangerous but they all have the same goal.

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8

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Curriculum notes

Teacher notes

Peace support operations are often divided into 'peacekeeping' (not armed or lightly armed) and 'peace enforcement' (heavily armed), and sometimes into other categories including peacemaking and peacebuilding. In this resource, 'peacekeeping' and 'peacekeeping operation' are used as blanket terms to cover all impartial, multinational, military-based interventions into areas of conflict. Peacekeepers may be military, police or civilians.

Learning intentions

Through these activities students will:

  • Be able to name some of the roles and activities of Australian peacekeepers
  • Understand the origins of the UN
  • Understand the purpose of the UN
  • Identify the differences and similarities between peacekeeping, peacemaking, peacebuilding and peace enforcement
  • Understand the important role of women in peacekeeping operations

Australian Curriculum

The Peacekeeping and the United Nations digibook and activities have been developed for middle years students, Year 5 to Year 8. The focus is on the Humanities and Social Sciences (HASS) and Civics and Citizenship curriculum areas of the Australian Curriculum (Version 8.4). They also link to the General Capabilities in the Australian Curriculum, particularly the Personal and Social Capability section.

The Australian Curriculum 8.4 content descriptors related to this resource are:

HASS Year 5

Knowledge and Understanding: Civics and Citizenship

  • Why regulations and laws are enforced and the personnel involved ACHASSK117
  • How people with shared beliefs and values work together to achieve a civic goal ACHASSK118

HASS Year 6

Knowledge and Understanding: Civics and Citizenship

  • The obligations citizens may consider they have beyond their own national borders as active and informed global citizens ACHASSK148

HASS Year 7

Civics and Citizenship Skills: Problem-solving and decision-making

  • Use democratic processes to reach consensus on a course of action relating to a civics or citizenship issue and plan for that action ACHCS058

HASS Year 8

Civics and Citizenship Skills: Problem-solving and decision-making

  • Appreciate multiple perspectives and use strategies to mediate differences ACHCS071
  • Reflect on their role as a citizen in Australia’s democracy ACHCS074

Using the digibook and workbook

The Peacekeeping and the United Nations digibook is designed to be accessible for a wide range of student abilities and used either independently or in a group. It takes a broad look at the roles of peacekeepers and the objectives of missions.

Student activity pages

There are five student activities to accompany the digibook. They are designed to support further learning about this topic. Teachers may choose one or more activities depending on the requirements of their class. The activities are free to download and print from the Anzac Portal.

1. Commemorative poster

Through this activity students explore commemoration by designing their own poster to acknowledge 75 years of Australia’s involvement in peacekeeping operations. Teachers may choose to run this activity as a competition with the winning poster displayed for the school community.

2. What do peacekeepers do?

In this activity students use a graphic organiser to explore the different jobs that peacekeepers perform. Using the list of jobs provided, students sort the jobs into three key areas: defence force, police and civilians. Some peacekeeping jobs may fall into more than one category. For example, a nurse or a doctor may serve on a peacekeeping mission through the defence force or as a civilian. Students should be encouraged to add their own ideas to the list as well. The United Nations Peacekeeping website may be useful for older readers

3. What skills does a peacekeeper need?

Through this activity students will explore the different skills that peacekeepers need to do their work. The activity can be completed independently or following the What do peacekeepers do? activity. Students will draw conclusions using their knowledge of the workforce and what they have learnt about peacekeepers. Students would benefit from group discussion while working through the activity. Older students may find our veteran interviews helpful.

Teaching sensitivities

Teachers should note that some of the interviews address sensitive and complex aspects of peacekeeping operations. It is advised that teachers select the most appropriate interviews for their students before the lesson begins.

4. Quiz time

This activity is designed to assess student understanding of what they have read in the Peacekeeping and United Nations digibook. Depending on what level of assessment is required, the quiz could be conducted as a fun competition for students as a whole class, in pairs, groups or individually. Question 1 is nice and easy to get everyone started! Answers are provided in the teacher notes PDF file on this page.

5. Peacekeeping at school

Through this activity students use what they have learnt about peacekeeping and apply it to a hypothetical school-based situation to develop their own peacekeeping mission. Students are encouraged to use the UN Peacekeeping model to create a plan for addressing the given situation at school and focusing on peace. The length of the activity depends on how much detail the teacher wishes the students to go into. This activity is best conducted in small groups or as a whole-class lesson.

Teachers should note that while peace enforcers have an important role in peacekeeping operations they are not required in this situation. The aim of this activity is to look at the different roles for the school community to promote and encourage peace.


  • Australians have been involved in peacekeeping missions every year since 1947.
  • The Australian Government has sent peacekeepers and resources to many UN-led peacekeeping missions.
  • Not all operations involving Australian peacekeepers have been led by the UN.


armed carrying a weapon

beret a flat, round cap made of felt or wool

ceasefire an arrangement in which countries or groups of people that are fighting each other agree to stop

charter a document that explains something and has been agreed upon

civilian a person who is not a member of a defence force

conflict an active disagreement between people with opposing opinions or principles

crisis a time of great danger or trouble

delegates people sent to a place to have talks with other people as representatives of a larger group of people

enforcement to use force to make something happen

hostile feelings of unfriendliness that may lead to violence

humanitarian improving the lives and living conditions of other people

impartial fair and without bias

peace agreement an understanding between 2 or more groups (countries, states or governments) to stop fighting for a period of time

stability being fixed or steady and resistant to change

Links to further information

On our website

Australia's peacekeeping missions since 1947

National Peacekeepers' Day 14 September

Control: Stories of Australian peacekeeping and humanitarian operations

Keeping the peace: Investigating Australia's contribution to peacekeeping

World Wide Effort: Australia's Peacekeepers

External websites

Australians and Peacekeeping - Australian War Memorial

Peacekeeping - Australian War Memorial

The United Nations (UN) website

The United Nations Peacekeeping website

Australian Peacekeeper and Peacemaker Veterans' Association

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