"Eyes and ears of the United Nations Security Council"

Boutros Boutros-Ghali



UNMOs - What are They?

UNMOs training

Field Experience

Meeting at the Round Table

Memorial book

UNMOs' Humor

UNMOs - What are They?

Military observers - highly trained officers who monitor some of the World's worst crisis spots - are "the eyes and ears of the United Nations Security Council".

Known as UNMOs, military observers play a crucial role in the UN peacekeeping. Without them the United Nations would be denied firsthand knowledge of the progress of the fighting or the level of destruction occurring in areas of hostility.

UNMOs, who are unarmed, are called on at great personal risk to witness attacks on military and civilian targets so they can report on the level of fighting.

Their most useful weapons are sharp eyes and alert ears.

UNMOs' common duties are to:

Monitor the various agreements on cease-fires, withdrawals and demilitarization (including those established in the "safe areas");

Patrol both sides of the conflict (including the areas along the confrontation lines);

Help resolve local difficulties (social, economic, etc.) by liaison with all sides of the conflict.

Investigate allegations of aggression or cease-fire violations.

When conflicts start, UNMOs are the first to go in - but always the last to leave. Their presence often deters attacks, as was the case when shelling stopped in Gorazde, eastern Bosnia-Herzegovina, for the first time in three weeks after eight UNMOs entered the town.

UNMOs' Training

Because they are experienced army personnel from their respective countries, UNMOs' basic military training is the foundation for their work in the UN Peacekeeping Missions.

To join "UNMOs' order" is a personal decision of each officer. Each country has its national selection procedure to provide the best candidates to the UN service. Usually before joining a particular UN Peace-keeping Mission one should pass special training at National or International Courses. They provide basic knowledge on features and peculiarities of life and service in the multinational environment in mission area.


In Russia the national UN courses (as a part of military courses "VISTREL") are located in Solnechnogorsk town near Moscow. By now more then 800 officers passed two months training there before joining UN Peacekeeping Missions. Starting from 1994 representatives of several foreign countries have passed UNMO training there.

In 1994 Dr. Valeriy Guerguel established Museum of Peacekeeping operations in Solnechnogorsk. That is a unique institution of such kind in the Russian Federation.

In 1998 on the basis of the Museum Dr. Guerguel launched a very interesting educational project "UN Peacekeeping model" - a peacekeeping game for secondary schools of Moscow region. That project has been supported by the Government of Moscow and Ministry of Defense.

Field Experience

But only in the field, as on the testing ground, one is able to decide - is it really the business he has looked for? Passing this hard test, an officer will keep this "UNMO spirit" with him forever.

UNMOs' mission in the field is not limited by pure observation. They use to play a role of negotiators and civil affairs officers in those places where others do not dare to enter. Actually in many cases local authorities consider UNMOs as the most reliable and trustworthy part of the international contingent. It is easy to explain: UNMOs operate unarmed so they pose no threat and are accessible to both civilians and the military, moreover they use to live within local communities exposing themselves to the same threats and risks as most of local population.

The vulnerability of UNMOs sometimes put them on the edge of life and death. Within short history of peace-keeping many of our friends - fellow peace-keepers were wounded or lost their lives, some of us got terrible experience of being hostages or detainees.