Official history of peacekeeping, humanitarian and post–Cold War operations

The series

Since 1947, at least 30,000 Australian peacekeepers have taken part in over 50 operations, in more than two-dozen theatres of conflict around the world, as well as a similar number of disaster-relief operations. The Australian Government has authorised the Australian War Memorial to research and write a six-volume Official History of Australian peacekeeping, humanitarian and post–Cold War operations.

This important document of Australians in peacekeeping represents a world-first: the first official history of a nation's complete peacekeeping record.

The history is official only in the sense it has government support and that the team has access to all relevant government records. What the historians write is not subject to censorship of any kind, except for reasons of national security.

The history is a joint project of the Australian War Memorial and the Australian National University. It is supported by the Australian Defence Force. In addition the Australian Research Council has awarded a grant of $1 million over five years to support writing the history.

The logos of the Australian National University, the Department of Defence and the Australian War Memorial


The Official History of Peacekeeping, Humanitarian and Post–Cold War Operations is being produced under the general editorship of Professor David Horner as Official Historian. The series is being published by Cambridge University Press. The six-volume history recounts the story of Australian participation in over fifty operations in some 25 areas of conflict since 1947 and a similar number of humanitarian operations.

(Operations in Afghanistan (2001-2014) and Iraq (2003-2011) and peacekeeping operations in East Timor (1999-2012) will be covered in a separate multi-volume official history series).

The current schedule of volumes and authors is as follows:

Volume 1: The long search for peace: observer missions and beyond, 1947–2006, by Dr Peter Londey (Australian National University), Dr Rhys Crawley (Australian War Memorial) and Professor David Horner (Australian National University), covers peacekeeping missions that began between 1947 and 1982, in Indonesia, Korea, Kashmir, the Middle East, the Congo, West New Guinea, Cyprus, Rhodesia/Zimbabwe, and Uganda, where applicable taking the story through to 2006.  This volume will appear in October 2019.

Volume 2: Australia and the ‘new world order’: from peacekeeping to peace enforcement, 1988–1991 by Professor David Horner, covers peacekeeping missions that began between 1988 and 1991 including Namibia, Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan, the Persian Gulf and Kuwait. This volume was published by Cambridge University Press in 2011.

Volume 3: The good international citizen: Australian peacekeeping in Asia, Africa and Europe, 1991–1993 by Professor David Horner and Dr John Connor, formerly of the Australian War Memorial now at the University of New South Wales (Australian Defence Force Academy), and covers peacekeeping missions that began in 1991, including Iraq (humanitarian operations, sanctions, and weapons inspection) Cambodia, Western Sahara and former Yugoslavia. This volume was published by Cambridge University Press in 2014.

Volume 4: The limits of peacekeeping: Australian peacekeeping in internal conflicts, 1993–2006 by Dr Bob Breen and Dr Jean Bou of the Australian National University, covering peacekeeping missions from 1993 onwards including, Somalia, Mozambique, Rwanda, Haiti, Eritrea, Guatemala, Sierra Leone and Sudan. Forthcoming, publication anticipated by late 2018.

Volume 5: The good neighbour: Australian peace support operations in the Pacific Islands, 1980–2006 by Dr Bob Breen, covers peacekeeping missions in the Pacific region since the mid 1980s, including Bougainville, Solomon Islands, and other deployments. This volume was published by Cambridge University Press in 2016.

 Volume 6: In their time of need: Australian overseas emergency relief operations, 1918–2006 by Dr Steven Bullard of the Australian War Memorial, covers overseas emergency relief operations, including Papua New Guinea, Sumatra, Pakistan, Iran, and various Pacific nations.  This volume was published by Cambridge University Press in 2017.