The Militarization of Peacekeeping

This article was part of the Briefing Book prepared for the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations by IPI and CIC. UN peacekeeping has come to dominate the field of international conflict resolution and the mediation of peace settlements, to the extent that the UN has even grown accustomed to boasting about how it deploys more military forces globally than any country except the US. But why should the US “empire of bases” be considered a legitimate comparison for an international organization supposedly devoted to peace? This speaks to just how far militarization and imperial ambition has overtaken peacekeeping. UN peacekeeping is in danger of being locked into perpetual expansion: the more it does, the more it is expected to do. It is high time this blue helmeted leviathan was scaled back, in order to allow alternative, more authentically pacific peace-providers and peace-making entrepreneurs to emerge, and for greater political experimentation and creativity to flourish in the provision of peace-making services. Why should the peace-making potential of good offices functions, technical commissions and ceasefire observation missions be monopolized by this aging relic of the Second World War? In the post-Cold War world, the impartiality of UN peacekeeping has been hollowed out as it has been scaled up into nation-building and become the military arm of the Security Council. This is shown by the fact that UN and its assorted agencies and peacekeepers are increasingly considered targets in the world’s war zones. In such a world, it is likely that there will be other actors – states and non-state peace-providers – who could develop a more credible reputation for authentic...

Local Knowledge and Peacebuilding

This article was part of the Briefing Book prepared for the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations by IPI and CIC.   Following is a list of suggested reforms to improve inclusivity in peacebuilding. Reform 1: Increase UN Support to Local Conflict Resolution For details and evidence, see my book The Trouble with the Congo. Local conflicts over land, resources, and political power sustain violence in many war and post-war environments. In the rare cases where there have been comprehensive bottom-up peacebuilding efforts, these initiatives have been successful in helping make peace sustainable. However, the dominant peacekeeping culture usually precludes action on local conflicts. Most international actors interpret violence as the consequence of national and regional causes alone, and UN staff view intervention at the macro levels as their only legitimate responsibility. The resulting neglect of local peacebuilding regularly dooms the international efforts. In addition to any top-down intervention, conflicts must be resolved from the bottom up. Whenever possible, local actors (subnational authorities, grassroots non-governmental organizations) should be in control of the bottom-up peacebuilding process. UN peacekeepers should increase financial, logistical, and technical support to these local actors. Reform 2: Value More Local and Country-Specific Knowledge For details and evidence, see my book Peaceland, part I. Peacekeeping missions value thematic and technical knowledge over local and country-specific expertise. This has many unintended consequences that decrease the effectiveness of international efforts. Although the UN should continue to hire individuals with thematic expertise, they should also recruit foreign staff with an in-depth understanding of local contexts and knowledge of local languages. They would do well to include these latter criteria in...

Corruption in Peacekeeping

This article was part of the Briefing Book prepared for the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations by IPI and CIC.   Peacekeeping missions are seriously affected by corruption. Conflict and post-conflict environments are difficult, and the fact that corruption is often endemic in mission areas immensely complicates the work of the UN, other international organizations, and post-conflict actors generally. Peacekeeping missions may have no option but to work with local actors known to be involved in corruption in order to help stabilize a particular region. Additionally, while peacekeeping missions are expected to behave with integrity themselves, they can exacerbate the problem if they “turn a blind eye” or are unwitting accomplices through being unaware of the threat posed by endemic corruption to the mission’s ability to implement its mandate. The likelihood of missing the significance of the threat is increased by the fact that little guidance exists and very little is done to train personnel before they deploy on mission, particularly troops and police who will come into daily contact with the population. Indeed, the complexities of international military operations, including peacekeeping, are poorly understood. In the 2013 Government Defence Anti-Corruption Index, which assessed degrees of corruption risk, the average integrity score of international military operations across 82 countries was 28%; this is telling in terms of the lack of acknowledgement countries give to corruption as a strategic issue, institutionalize operational training, operational corruption monitoring, or control contracting while on operations. While taking a position on endemic corruption may increase the complexity in the early stages of a mission, it will pay dividends in terms of institution building...

Europe is redefining its view on making and building peace

The Independent High-Level Panel on UN Peace Operations held consultations in Europe 19-20 February. Prior to their meetings, the panel had received a background paper written by senior analyst Louise Riis Andersen on current trends in European thinking. This article was originally published by the Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS). Europe is known to prefer a soft approach to crisis management. Diplomacy, sanctions and civilian assistance are the favoured instruments of the European Union and its member states. The return of geopolitics and lessons learned from recent interventions have prompted a rethink of some of the dogmas that have informed European foreign policy since the end of the Cold War. The rethink is pointing different actors in different directions and making it increasingly difficult to identify a distinctly European perspective on crisis management. At the same time, a number of shared characteristics continue to inform the foreign policies of European countries, including a strong belief in the universality of human rights and the value of a comprehensive and people-centred approach to international peace and security. Against this backdrop, European policy makers are struggling to respond adequately to the increasingly complex and multifaceted nature of contemporary violent conflicts. As a result, present-day European perspectives on how to make and build peace contain elements of unity and divisions as well as continuity and change. Looking out for the Long-Term: Peacebuilding as Development The security-development nexus constitutes a corner stone in European crisis management. In Europe, it is beyond dispute that development and security are inextricably linked and that one cannot be achieved without the other. European security is widely understood...

Country Profile: Paraguay

“Paraguay has contributed to United Nations (UN) peacekeeping missions since 2001. More recently, Paraguay’s contribution of UN peacekeepers has increased from 1.14% of all Latin American peacekeepers in 2007 to 2.78% in 2014. At the end of 2015, 119 Paraguayan uniformed personnel were deployed in six UN missions (in Central African Republic, Cyprus, Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Ivory Coast, and South Sudan). With the exception of Haiti, all Paraguayan involvements are token contributions (i.e. deployments of fewer than forty uniformed persons). Although Paraguay did not pledge any new contributions at the 2015 World Leaders’ Summit on Peacekeeping, organized by the United States during the opening week of the 70th UN General Assembly, the country has been developing specialized capabilities in engineering by funding the “Operation Multi-Role Engineer Company,” which is intended for use in peacekeeping operations.” Read more in our newly updated country profile on Paraguay by Fernando Chinchilla and Janneth...
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