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The UN at War: Examining the Consequences of Peace-Enforcement Mandates for the UN Peacekeeping Operations in the CAR, the DRC and Mali

By John Karlsrud

The UN peacekeeping operations in the Central African Republic (CAR), Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Mali were in 2013 given peace enforcement mandates, ordering them to use all necessary measures to ‘neutralise’ and ‘disarm’ identified groups in the eastern DRC and to ‘stabilise’ CAR and northern Mali. It is not new that UN missions have mandates authorising the use of force, but these have normally not specified enemies and have been of short duration. This article investigates these missions to better understand the short- and long-term consequences, in terms of the willingness of traditional as well as Western troop contributors to provide troops, and of the perception of the missions by host states, neighbouring states, rebel groups, and humanitarian and human rights actors. The paper explores normative, security and legitimacy implications of the expanded will of the UN to use force in peacekeeping operations. It argues that the urge to equip UN peacekeeping operations with enforcement mandates that target particular groups has significant long-term implications for the UN and its role as an impartial arbitrator in post-conflict countries.

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