29 May 2012

International Day - Les Casques bleus

Image source:action-paix.skyrock.com
In 2002 the United Nations proclaimed May 29th International Day for the United Nations Peacekeeping Force.

Les Casques blues, sometimes referred to in English as the Blue Berets (in reference to the light blue color of their helmets), first saw service in 1948 in Palestine during the UN's first official peacekeeping mission.

Today these volunteers number more than 120,000 and serve on four continents. Since it's inception, the traditional role of the Casques blues has evolved from protecting civilians and surveying cease-fires to encouraging and assisting dialogue, overseeing elections and promoting human rights, a mission not without consequence.

121 men and women lost their lives during peacekeeping missions in 2009, and by May 28th 2010, that number had reached nearly 220. (source).

To see a comprehensive list of other commemorative days celebrated around the world, you can visit the French website journée-mondial.com (in French only). To date they have collected 246 days from various sources, including the United Nations, non-governmental organizations, religious institutions and other groups.

According to journée-mondial.com, there's no commemorative day yet attributed to May 30th, but if you wait for the 31st you can celebrate World Tobacco-Free Day.

10 May 2012

Did You Know...? Part 7

Photo credit: Jean-Marc Ayrault
When he is sworn into office on May 15th, François Hollande will become the seventh elected President of the French Fifth Republic. 

Politician Alain Poher served twice as intermediary president since the start of the Fifth Republic in October 1958, stepping in after Charles de Gaulle resigned in April 1969 and then again after Georges Pompidou died in office in April 1974.

Since the early 19th century, France has had more than a handful of government systems, from republics to empires to constitutional monarchies. 

Under the current republican system, each time a new constitution is drafted and signed into law, a new republic is also created (fifth constitution = fifth republic). 

French presidents currently serve five-year terms. The next presidential elections will be held in 2017.

If you're interested, Wikipedia will give you more information about the French Fifth Republic here.