Defining the Boundaries of UN Stabilization Missions

In 2004, the United Nations (UN) Security Council authorized the first stabilization mission in Haiti. Since then, it has authorized three more in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, and the Central African Republic. Yet the Security Council has never defined the term “stabilization,” explained how stabilization missions differ from other UN peace operations, or elaborated on the outcomes it expects stabilization missions to achieve. This report argues that there is no consensus as to what stabilization means, and that there is a wide gulf between understandings in New York (where it is often viewed as involving offensive military force) and in the field (where it is often viewed as civilian-led and development-focused work). In the absence of a clear definition of stabilization, it is unclear to many stakeholders whether these missions violate the core principles of peacekeeping. The lack of a definition creates a risk of unrealistic expectations for what missions will accomplish and makes it impossible to evaluate success. It can contribute to a mismatch between mission objectives and capabilities, lead to ad hoc and ineffective implementation of mandated tasks on the ground, and discourage countries from authorizing or contributing troops to these missions. Recognizing these problems, the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations declared last year that “the usage of this term by the United Nations requires clarification.” Drawing on understandings of stabilization in concept and in practice, this report proposes a new definition of stabilization in the context of UN peacekeeping: supporting the transfer of territorial control from spoilers to legitimate authorities. This definition, unlike others proposed, is consistent with the mandates and activities of...

Has UN Peacekeeping Become More Deadly? Analyzing Trends in UN Fatalities

Has UN Peacekeeping Become More Deadly? Analyzing Trends in UN Fatalities by Marina E. Henke is the 14th paper in the Providing for Peacekeeping Series. How deadly is UN peacekeeping? Have UN peacekeeping fatalities increased over the past decades? Those who have attempted to answer these questions differ drastically in their assessments, in part due to the dearth of data and the variety of calculation methods employed. In order to fix some of these shortcomings and take a fresh look at these questions, this report analyzes trends in UN peacekeeping fatalities using a new dataset compiled by the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations. As a result of the new data employed and methodological innovations, this report constitutes the most detailed study of UN fatality trends thus far. The analysis reveals that overall UN fatalities are not substantively on the rise. Indeed, total fatality ratios are declining. Nevertheless, this decline does not equally apply to all types of UN fatalities; there is strong evidence that UN fatalities due to illness are on the rise. While these findings are important, further research is needed to adequately examine whether UN peacekeeping missions have become more dangerous in recent years. Read the paper...
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