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Research Report

United Nations Peace Operations:: Aligning Principles and Practice

Mateja Peter
Copyright Date: Jan. 1, 2015
Pages: 48

Table of Contents

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  1. (pp. 1-2)
  2. (pp. 3-3)
  3. (pp. 4-4)
  4. (pp. 5-6)
    Mateja Peter

    The mandates of recent UN peacekeeping operations show substantial innovation in the thinking of the UN Security Council. The authorization of a Force Intervention Brigade, the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, a focus on strategic communication and intelligence, and peacebuilding mandates in the midst of ongoing conflicts – have all expanded the scope of activities of UN missions. These developments have prompted questions over the future direction of UN peace operations. Has the UN the capabilities to command, support and implement more robust operations? What are the implications for the Capstone Doctrine and the peacekeeping principles of consent, impartiality, and...

  5. (pp. 7-11)
    Morten Bøås and Niels Nagelhus Schia

    Peacekeeping has never been easy, but the current context of broad and ambitious mandates combined with instructions to use force robustly may present even further challenges. If recent conflict trends can be taken as a guide to ongoing and future peacekeeping operations, the field will continue to be characterized by complex missions conducted in politically difficult terrains. There is no clear endgame in sight. Missions dispatched to facilitate the production of peace must grapple with weak states and increasingly unpopular national leaders with low levels of legitimacy. Such missions may easily end up fighting or attempting to control armed non-state...

  6. (pp. 12-16)
    Francesco Strazzari, John Karlsrud, Lilly Muller and Niels Nagelhus Schia

    For more than a decade there has been growing recognition that UN peace operations need to include a focus on organized crime. While that is a positive development, the outcomes have been elusive to say the least, and much remains to be done to operationalize fine-grained understanding and strategic planning regarding organized crime in contexts emerging from armed conflict. The operationalization of organized crime as a driver of state fragility in a given conflict-affected region should emerge as the product of the joint activities of specialists with backgrounds in political science/sociology, economics/ development and criminology/law. However, organized crime continues to...

  7. (pp. 17-22)
    Cedric de Coning, Mateja Peter and John Karlsrud

    UN stabilization operations require a new doctrine, one that is separate from the existing UN peacekeeping principles, identity and approach. When the UN Security Council – as a last resort – mandates the UN to undertake stability and offensive operations, the UN should not have to do this on the basis of the existing peacekeeping doctrine and its blue helmet identity. A new UN stabilization doctrine with a matching identity should be developed to provide guidance on what would be required, should the UN be tasked with such mandates.17

    Such a new stabilization doctrine can help to protect UN peacekeeping...

  8. (pp. 23-29)
    Jon Harald Sande Lie, Benjamin de Carvalho, Cedric de Coning and Eli Stamnes

    Lack of conceptual clarity and a shared understanding of what the Protection of Civilians (PoC) means and entails for practice are key challenges to UN peacekeeping mandates, policies and practice. The PoC concept is a very broad one, and fails to orchestrate action between civilian and military entities. Instead, agencies interpret and apply PoC in terms of their own mandates and institutional culture, which impedes interagency coordination and contextual implementation. Few agree whether PoC is a specific peacekeeping task, or should be an overall concern of UN operations. Further, the lack of differentiation between PoC and the somewhat contested Responsibility...

  9. (pp. 30-36)
    Niels Nagelhus Schia, John Karlsrud, Ingvild Magnus Gjelsvik, Kari M. Osland and Randi Solhjell

    The international community needs to do more in systematically collecting, sharing and analysing local perceptions, and ensuring that they are used in monitoring progress towards key benchmarks.33 Further, they must inform decision-making at the field level and at the UN Security Council and UN Secretariat/Headquarters (HQ). Here are some practical recommendations for policymakers and the international community:

    Integrate. The UN should ‘mainstream’ local perceptions into political analysis and planning at the mission level and at HQ New York HQ.

    Knowledge sharing: between New York HQ, mission HQs and the field.

    Nationals and internationals: Although not neutral, national staff and the...

  10. (pp. 37-40)
    Cedric de Coning, Paul Troost and Kari M. Osland

    UN peace operations are associated with the blue-hatted uniformed UN personnel – but civilian capacity is crucial to success in areas such as politics, justice, core government functionality, reconciliation, human rights, security sector reform and economic revitalization.

    Although the UN CIVCAP reform initiative failed to bring about much-needed innovation, several recommendations in the Guehénno report remain relevant and urgent.43 Building on our research, we will highlight the following points:44

    International capacity should not become a substitute for national capacity. A peace operation has failed if it withdraws without leaving behind enhanced national capacities in areas critical for peace consolidation.


  11. (pp. 41-43)
    Cedric de Coning and Ingvild Magnæs Gjelsvik

    The most important regional relationship for the United Nations is that with the African Union (AU). African capacities are an major resource for UN peacekeeping, currently contributing approximately 45% of the UN’s uniformed personnel, 60% of its international civilian personnel and 80% of its local staff. UN support is a critical enabler for AU operations, and the UN is an important exit strategy partner for the AU. The effectiveness of both the UN and the AU are thus mutually interdependent on several levels. The UN will have to consider more predictable ways in which the UN and other partners can...

  12. (pp. 44-46)
  13. (pp. 47-47)