The earliest peacekeepers were military observers, who entered the scene after a ceasefire agreement had been reached. Usually unarmed, they ensured that neither side could break the ceasefire without the world community knowing which side was responsible.

Observers may work from fixed observation posts, or patrol on foot, by vehicle or by helicopter. Working in pairs or small teams, they observe what they can for themselves but also gather information from local people and from the warring parties. Neither side usually wants to harm them, but they nevertheless operate in an unsafe environment.

AWM P01755.001Golan Heights, 1985 P01755.001

AWM CANA/89/0345/08Australian Observers in Iran, 1989. At the far right is Stuart Cameron, who was later killed in an ambush while working for Care Australia in northern Iraq. CANA/89/0345/08