UN secretary general António Guterres has said the UN is working hard to make all peacekeeping operations cost-effective and is constantly finding ways to reform, restructure and drive costs down. “At the same time, UN peacekeepers are relentless in searching for new ways to build sustainable peace,” he said in a message marking the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers being observed today (Monday). Looking forward, the secretary general said they are aiming to do more to end operations that have achieved their goals. “We’re also reforming and adapting our peacekeeping missions to improve their effectiveness in the increasingly challenging environments in which they work.” The UN chief said peacekeeping operations have evolved from simply monitoring ceasefires to protecting civilians, disarming ex-combatants, protecting human rights, promoting the rule of law, supporting free and fair elections, minimising the risk of landmines and much more. He said they also work to ensure that women are fully represented in peace processes, political life, and in branches of government. “All these investments are fundamental to building lasting peace.” The UN secretary general paid tributes to more than 113,000 ‘Blue Helmets’, UN Police and civilian personnel deployed to 16 missions, according to the message received here from UN Information Centre here. “We acknowledge the contribution made by an ever-growing number of Member States to our operations,” said the UN chief in his message laying emphasis on investment in peace around the world. More than one million women and men who have served under the UN flag with professionalism, dedication and courage throughout our history. “And we honour the memory of more than 3,500 peacekeepers who lost their lives while serving,” said Guterres. Last year, he said, 117 peacekeepers paid the ultimate price and they included military, police, international civil servants, UN Volunteers and national staff from 43 countries. “So far in 2017, twelve peacekeepers have been killed.” “Our partnership is central to the success of peacekeeping missions, since Member States decide where troops go, what they will do, and what resources will support them,” said the UN chief. He said close cooperation from Member States is vital if they are to deliver on the promise of lasting peace, while peacekeepers create conditions on the ground to enable solutions to emerge and take root. “I’ve also prioritised ensuring that women play a far more active role in peace operations, as troops, police and civilian staff. Gender parity is essential for its own sake, and the presence of women increases the chances of sustained peace while reducing incidences of sexual abuse and exploitation,” the UN chief mentioned. The secretary general said for nearly 70 years, UN peacekeeping has proven to be one of the international community’s most effective investments in peace, security and prosperity. The demand for UN peacekeepers has risen steadily over the years, and deployment is now near an all-time high, said Guterres adding that peacekeeping has had a positive impact on the lives of millions of people around the world.