In many nations around the globe, a free, fair and democratic election is anything but assumed. Consider South Sudan, where last year, a young man who fought for his country’s independence, saw a dream become reality when he placed his ballot into the voting box in support of granting independence to the new nation. He stood in the grueling heat, surrounded by armed guards for his safety and became part of history. He witnessed the transformation from dictatorship into democracy.
This man will remember this election for the rest of his life, and likely each one that follows it. It is a unique event, one that has been made possible only through multilateral support, and notably the United Nations and its 120,000 peacekeepers around the world. They are on the front lines of promoting peace and security every day, making democracies like South Sudan’s possible. From protecting voters as they cast their ballots, to ensuring the acceptance of democratic outcomes, U.N. Peacekeepers work side-by-side with governments to promote, and, in some cases, successfully transition to democracy.
In recent years, U.N. peacekeeping has provided crucial technical and logistical assistance in milestone elections in many countries, including not only South Sudan but also the Democratic Republic of Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Afghanistan and Liberia.
Every year, the Better World Campaign along with the United Nations Foundation and United Nations Association of America (UNA-USA) ask Americans to thank these men and women who have made democratic elections possible in 100 countries over the last two decades. They not only put their lives on the line in some of the most dangerous places around the world, they also promote values that are important to Americans: human rights, strong security, and of course, democracy.
As I enter the voting booth this fall, our nation will continue its great debate and dialogue over who will lead our nation through our next four years, and I will be thankful for the ease with which this conversation occurs. I will be thinking about elections in Côte d’Ivoire, Timor-Leste and Democratic Republic of Congo that were conducted smoothly thanks to peacekeepers. I will think of those in Haiti who were supported by U.N. peacekeepers offering security and stability during the election process after the devastating earthquake. I will think of those who cast their democratic vote in South Sudan, granting them a new nation, thanks to peacekeepers, and I will be grateful for the democracies that are growing each day worldwide.
As you remind your friends and neighbors to get out the vote this election season, take a moment to also thank U.N. Peacekeepers who are getting the vote out around the world and ensuring democracy is a strong pillar of our global success. Click here to learn more about our Thank a Peacekeeper campaign.