Blue Helmets  The Story of UN Peacekeeping
   
In 1948, with the world still reeling from the tremors of World War II, the United Nations dispatched its first “army of peace” to the strife-torn Middle East. The goal of the small collection of United Nations soldiers was to calm tensions by standing between the warring parties. Almost 60 years later, the United Nations’ Blue Helmets are still working worldwide to keep the peace.

BLUE HELMETS: The Story of United Nations Peacekeeping, narrated by the Reverend Jesse Jackson, examines the lofty aims and sometimes rocky history of this ambitious endeavor. In addition to exploring the much debated efforts of the Blue Helmets in the Middle East, the 90-minute program chronicles the role of the United Nations peacekeepers in other significant historical events: the chaos of the Congo, the hostilities between Cyprus’ rival Greek and Turkish communities, and the long struggle to achieve independence in Namibia, Africa’s last colony.

Even those embroiled in a conflict “respect someone who is there to help them,” says Canadian Major Scotty Alexander, who served as a peacekeeper in Cyprus. “They’re looking for a way to get out of that ultimate decision of killing each other.”

With restrictions on the use of their weapons, the peacekeepers must rely on ingenuity to bring about calm. Says Canadian colonel John Gardam, “All you’ve got really is the kindness in your eyes and the tone of your voice.” Sometimes that just isn’t enough. In the course of pursing peace, hundreds of Blue Helmets have lost their lives. Their sacrifices, and successes, were finally acknowledged in December 1988, when the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the United Nations peacekeeping forces.

 
 

BLUE HELMETS includes rare archival and newsreel footage, along with home movies taken by the peacekeepers themselves. Throughout the program, former United Nations Undersecretary-General Brain Urquhart offers the unique perspective of one who has lived through the evolution of peacekeeping. During a 41-year United Nations career, the highly respected Urquhart was involved in virtually every international crisis.

The Reverend Jesse Jackson’s interest in BLUE HELMETS sprang from his active commitment to “support and expand the rule of international law, fight for human rights, and measure them by one yardstick.”

Pacific Street Films has produced numerous documentaries about the United Nations, and its peacekeeping efforts, including IN SEARCH OF PEACE, narrated by Paul Newman, and broadcast by Turner Broadcasting on the 50th anniversary of the international organization.




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