Commentary

Sustaining peace in an urban world |

Deen Sharp

Gizem Sucuoglu

The conflict in Syria has turned formerly thriving urban centres such as Aleppo and Homs into landscapes of rubble and decay. Those escaping the violence in these cities and elsewhere in the country have fled to predominantly urban areas in neighbouring countries. This influx has placed intense pressures on housing, livelihoods and basic urban serv Read More...


The world’s deadliest U.N. mission |

Kevin Sieff

Richard Gowan

Since World War II, U.N. peacekeepers have been dispatched to 69 conflicts — civil wars, border disputes and failed states. But now they are confronting an unsettling new threat: al-Qaeda. Here in the vast, lawless desert of northwest Africa, their convoys are being torn apart by improvised explosive devices and their compounds blasted by 1,000- Read More...


Lost in transition: no change for women’s rights in Liberia |

Liezelle Kumalo

Muneinazvo Kujeke

When Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was elected in 2005, she became Liberia and Africa’s first female president. This gave the continent hope about the empowered role of women in socio-economic and political spheres. However, in Liberia, women are yet to take their rightful and equal place in society, and Johnson Sirleaf’s presence has not translated i Read More...


Liberia’s journey to national ownership |

Amanda Lucey

Tafadzwa Munjoma

In October 2017, Liberia will hold what is expected to be a hotly contested election. The leaders of 22 political parties will be vying to replace President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa’s first democratically elected female leader. As Liberia gears up for the election, much debate has been generated around the successes of her administration an Read More...


All peacebuilding is local |

Joëlle Jenny

On his first day as Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres issued an Appeal for Peace. As conflicts and crises wreak havoc across several continents, who would disagree with his call upon all—citizens, governments, leaders—to overcome their differences and put peace first? Yet as crises around the world continue to demonstr Read More...


Going, but not gone: UNMIL stays on in Liberia |

Amanda Lucey

Liezelle Kumalo

Liberia is nearly, but not quite ready, to go it alone without United Nations (UN) peacekeeping support. This was the upshot of the 23 December 2016 UN Security Council (UNSC) meeting, where it was decided that the UN peacekeeping mission in Liberia, of which the mandate had expired, would be extended until March 2018 for the final time. Since the Read More...


Sustaining Peace in Security Transitions: The Liberian Opportunity |

Gizem Sucuoglu

Lesley Connolly

On December 21 last year, the United Nations Security Council extended the mandate of the peacekeeping operation in Liberia (UNMIL) until March 30, 2018. The Council hailed the mission’s overall progress toward restoring peace, security, and stability in the country. The drawdown, which UNMIL head Farid Zarif called “one of the most signific Read More...


Reducing Civilian Harm Caused by MONUSCO |

Lauren Spink

Peacekeeping operations deployed by the United Nations are often tasked with the protection of civilians as one of their primary duties. But their positions of power and access to weapons mean that they sometimes harm civilians, both directly through their actions and indirectly through inaction in the face of armed groups inflicting damage on civi Read More...


UN Peacekeeping in South Sudan: A Kiwi Comes to Juba |

Megan Roberts

The following is a guest post by Megan Roberts, associate director of the International Institutions and Global Governance program at the Council on Foreign Relations. January 2017 David Shearer of New Zealand will take the helm of South Sudan’s beleaguered peacekeeping operation (the UN Mission in South Sudan, or UNMISS). Outgoing UN Secretary Read More...


Is MONUSCO doing a good job at protecting civilians? |

Jason Stearns

The recent UN peacekeeping missions in the Congo are notable for their size and longevity. In 1999, the UN Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo or MONUC was mandated to monitor the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement. In 2010, it was transformed into the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the DR Congo (MONUSCO), now the largest and Read More...


Sustaining peace requires urgent climate action |

Jonathan Rozen

Worsening climate conditions directly threaten prospects for attaining the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and with them the conditions for peaceful societies. As the Paris Agreement comes into force on 4 November, the world will be committed to the best existing global strategy for limiting and reversing climate change. Advancing sustai Read More...


Land privatisation and climate change are costing rural Kenyans |

Jonathan Rozen

In Kajiado County, vulnerability and conflict can be traced to land subdivision, not just climate change. Eddah Senetoi lives with her son in the small pastoralist community of Elangata Waus. They keep cows, goats, sheep and donkeys to buy food and pay school fees. For her and other pastoralists living in southern Kenya’s Kajiado County, clima Read More...


Accountability for Peacekeeping Failures Must be Shared by the UN in New York |

Lauren Spink

At a recent training for peacekeepers that brought together soldiers and police officers from a dozen key United Nations troop contributing countries (TCCs) to focus on improving civilian protection and civil-military coordination, participants ranging from majors to former sector and force commanders expressed frustration over what they perceive a Read More...


Better leadership needed to improve the protection of civilians on UN peace operations |

Patrick Cammaert

Strong leadership and accountability are essential. More needs to be done to demonstrate that the United Nations lives up to the values its peace operations promote. Many UN peacekeepers do their utmost to save lives and protect people, but the troops and police deployed in sixteen missions can improve and do better. Based on my experience serving Read More...


After the shock: recalibrating for President Trump |

Elsina Wainwright

While Trump has proven it possible to win an election being resolutely off piste and with a small group of advisers, it’s harder to govern that way: many more people need to be drawn in to craft an agenda and run the government. It was hard to overstate the shock in Washington and here in New York the day after the US election. But now it’s ti Read More...


Spotlight: Collaboration is essential for effective peacebuilding |

Amanda Lucey

A new joint project on peacebuilding responses in Africa will analyse the comparative advantages of African peacebuilding actors, such as bilateral, subregional and regional organisations, and how these can support national actors. ‘Given their vast experience, support from African countries, and others in the global south, could be crucial for Read More...


Dag Hammarskjöld’s legacy: what does it mean for Africa? |

Amanda Lucey

Sunday, 18 September. Some 10 km outside of Ndola, Zambia, a group of people has gathered at the site where 55 years ago, Dag Hammarskjöld – the second secretary-general of the United Nations (UN) – perished in a fatal plane crash. The military band strikes up a plaintiff tune. Their thick, red uniforms seem to belong to a different time and Read More...


The Solomon Islands and the role of think tanks |

Elsina Wainwright

To mark the 15th anniversary of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), CIC non-resident fellow Dr. Elsina Wainwright reflected on the role her policy advice played in the deployment of what became known as the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI).  I vividly remember learning in mid-2003 that the Howard Governm Read More...


From Curse to Blessing: How Africa’s Natural Resources Can Build Peace |

Jonathan Rozen

While natural resource development can generate economic success, it can also increase the likelihood of conflict, particularly in Africa. Ongoing violence in Nigeria’s oil-rich Niger Delta is a good example of the so-called “resource curse” in action. In response, African governments continue to grapple with how best to use their Read More...


Global leadership needs a shot in the arm, starting with the next SG |

Karin Landgren

In July, the UN Security Council held its first, non-binding straw poll in the process of recommending the next Secretary-General.  In our polarized, confrontational political climate, the choice matters greatly. The leader of our sole truly global intergovernmental body must bring singular qualities to the task of being a brake and a buffer again Read More...


South China Sea and world disorder |

WPS Sidhu

The ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague against China’s claim on the South China Sea in a case brought before the court by the Philippines should prima facie have remained a bilateral matter between the litigants. In reality, however, it has become an exemplar of China’s role in the ongoing contest to determine the w Read More...


Getting clear about conflict prevention at the UN |

Gustavo de Carvalho

Adriana Erthal Abdenur

The 70th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations (UN) last year has prompted new questions about the organisation’s ability to effectively address peace and security problems around the globe. The UN peace and security architecture has expanded dramatically since the Cold War. This has partly been in response to the changing nature of Read More...


Creating a “Responsibility to Prevent” at the UN |

Kristoffer Tarp

Much of the High-Level Thematic Debate (HLTD) on Peace and Security in the General Assembly in May was predictably centred on prevention. Participants made the case for greater efforts to prevent conflict from erupting or re-erupting in the first place and committing to sustaining peace. But maybe it is time, as Youssef Mahmoud has argued, for prev Read More...


The South China Sea and the Limits of UN Conflict Prevention |

Jim Della-Giacoma

This week has seen major talks on the biggest brewing conflict in Asia. At the annual Shangri-La Dialogue of Asia-Pacific defense officials and the high-level United States-China talks in Beijing, the dispute over the South China Sea has been front and center. Beijing’s unapologetic expansionist behavior in a group of previously uninhabited islan Read More...


AU-UN Partnership is a Necessity not an Option |

Lesley Connolly

As the African Union (AU) has become a stronger actor in peace operations, coordination with the United Nations Security Council has risen in importance. Beyond just working together on a case-by-case basis, such as the Somalia hybrid mission, the two organizations are said to be seeking a broader and more complimentary relationship. In the last ye Read More...


Making UN peacekeeping Fit for Purpose: A Shared Responsibility |

Bert Koenders

The blue helmet is perhaps the most powerful symbol of hope for a better world. In the 70 years since the UN was founded, its peacekeepers have saved lives and restored peace all over the world. From the Far East to Europe and on to Africa and Central America, soldiers, police officers and civilian experts have worked for peace and security at the Read More...


Here’s how to End UN Peacekeeping’s History of Sexual Violence |

Jeni Whalan

After years of moral outrage and stern official rhetoric, the odious scandal of sexual abuse by UN peacekeepers of the vulnerable people they are sent to protect may finally attract tangible penalties for the organisation. US senators this month threatened to withdraw funding from the UN over its leaders' failure to prevent sexual violence by peace Read More...


Sustaining Peace is a Core Activity of the UN |

Oscar Fernandez-Taranco

On 27 April 2016, as an end result of an over a year long process aimed at reviewing the UN’s peacebuilding efforts, the member states of the United Nations agreed by consensus on two substantially identical, parallel resolutions of the General Assembly and Security Council. The comprehensive and far-reaching resolutions successfully capture the Read More...


A Global Consensus on Sustaining Peace |

Ismael A. Gaspar Martins

Gillian Bird

Benjamin Franklin once said that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The United Nations membership acknowledged this, by consensus, by adopting on 27 April the most comprehensive and far-reaching peacebuilding resolutions in the Organization’s history. To say that the world is going through difficult times is an anodyne understateme Read More...


U.N. Peace Operations Need Less Jargon and More Direction |

Jim Della-Giacoma

Peace and the United Nations go together; at least that’s what its founders intended. But in the meeting rooms of the organization’s New York headquarters, diplomats often argue over the buzzword vocabulary of compound words and phrases for advancing the U.N.’s peace mandate. They parse whether an operation is a special political mission or a Read More...


Food Security, Nutrition, and Peace |

Sarah Cliffe

What do we know about the links between food security, nutrition and peace? What makes countries resilient to these risks? And what does this mean for global policy development in future? There are four points worth making between the links between food security, nutrition, other natural resource issues, and peace: First, conflict of course has a Read More...


Women in Peace Operations: The Unsung Champions of Human Rights |

Liezelle Kumalo

Riana Paneras

On 21 March 2016, South Africa celebrates Human Rights Day, commemorating the 1960 shooting of police upon peaceful protestors, which killed 69 people. This year, reflecting on the role of police in relation to human rights seems more relevant than ever given that the African Union (AU) dedicated 2016 to human rights, with a specific focus on the r Read More...


At the U.N., Only Optimists Need Apply |

Jim Della-Giacoma

The first time I heard the German word “zwangsoptimist” was in a meeting to discuss ways to improve how the international system functions. Meaning “someone who feels compelled to be an optimist,” the word not only succinctly sums up my work for and alongside the U.N. over the past 27 years, but could also be a one-word job description for Read More...


U.N. Security Council Should Make Better Use of ‘Road-Trip Diplomacy’ |

Jim Della-Giacoma

A United Nations Security Council debate can feel like traveling in an airplane at cruising altitude: a quick continental overflight in a rarefied atmosphere, far above the dirty reality of the conflict below. The debate can be driven by factors that may have little to do with what may be happening on the ground. But from time to time, council mem Read More...


Putting Prevention Back in the U.N.’s Vocabulary |

Jim Della-Giacoma

Prevention has long been a dirty word at the United Nations: Some member states equate it with interference, and the need for early warning that accompanies it with spying. But in a time of crisis, some think the time has come to reconsider what role the world body should play in stopping conflict before it happens. It is hard to argue against the Read More...


The UN has a plan to restore international peace and security – will it work? |

Robert Muggah

It´s official. Global instability is the new normal. Political and economic uncertainties, combined with climate change and the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution, are all contributing to create unparalleled volatility. Diplomats and defence specialists have fretted over these interlocking threats at major conferences in Davos and Munich Read More...


Does anyone know what good peacebuilding looks like? |

Gustavo de Carvalho

Onnie Kok

Peacebuilding has evolved significantly in the last 20 years. Now that we know what it is meant to achieve, the time has come to do it well. On 16 February, the world bid farewell to former United Nation’s (UN) secretary-general Boutros Boutros-Ghali when he passed away at a Cairo hospital. Boutros-Ghali is often remembered for his tumultuous te Read More...


Rwanda should have been a wake-up call. Why do the crises continue? |

Hanny Megally

Each week, In Theory takes on a big idea in the news and explores it from a range of perspectives. This week we’re talking about the Responsibility to Protect doctrine. Need a primer? Catch up here. Twenty-two years ago this spring, more than a million men, women and children in Rwanda waited in vain for international protection to save them fro Read More...


The United Nations in 2016 |

Richard Gowan

The United Nations faces severe strains on its operational and political credibility.  Crises in the Middle East and Africa have placed huge burdens on UN humanitarian agencies, peacekeepers and mediators.  Tensions between the West and Russia in the Security Council over Syria and Ukraine have hurt the UN’s wider reputation. 2016 is likely Read More...


The Lost Agenda: Gender Parity in Senior UN Appointments |

Karin Landgren

As the clamour grows for a woman to be chosen as the next Secretary-General, other high-level staff appointments have been quietly but steadily defying the UN's longstanding goal of gender parity. Seemingly unnoticed, this year's selections for the seniormost level of UN staff have skewed nearly 92 per cent male. Between 1 January and 10 December Read More...


Charm, criticise, compromise |

Richard Gowan

Good diplomats know how to deliver tough messages to important counterparts without creating havoc. It’s a three-part process. First, you need to butter up your target with compliments. Second, you have to express your concerns firmly, but not hysterically. Third, you must hint at a compromise that will let everyone save face. US Ambassador to th Read More...


Australia’s false start on peacekeeping: a post-summit review |

Peter Nadin

Much of the mainstream coverage of this year’s UN General Assembly leaders’ week focused on Putin and Obama’s tete-a-tete on Syria, as well as the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals. On the sidelines of the GA, President Obama convened a leaders’ summit on peacekeeping. The summit was born of a US recognition that peacekeeping i Read More...


Can the UN reduce global conflict? |

Sarah Cliffe

There has never been a better time to renew the UN’s commitment to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war”. Recent headlines have been dominated by crises old and new: from ISIS in Iraq and Syria to Boko Haram in Nigeria; from war in Yemen, Libya and South Sudan to fighting in the east of Ukraine. Global conflict levels have ris Read More...


Rebooting Ireland’s commitment to UN peacekeeping |

Edward Burke

In an organisation as durable and complex as the United Nations, opportunities for reform do not come along very often. It is also singularly rare for Ireland to have a debate about its defence commitments. So 2015, the year when the UN conducts a review of peacekeeping operations and the Government prepares a White Paper on defence, must not go to Read More...


Testing Indonesia’s commitment to UN peacekeeping |

Jim Della-Giacoma

Indonesia is committed to becoming one of the top ten countries contributing to UN peace operations. With its Roadmap Vision 4,000 Peacekeepers, Jakarta aims to dramatically increase the 2,724 peacekeepers now deployed in ten UN missions by 2019. Compared to 2014, this would be a doubling of troops deployed in only five years. This is a noble and Read More...


What I saw in Afghanistan |

Barnett Rubin

When the late  Richard Holbrooke  was the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, he would periodically invite members of Congress to breakfast meetings with his staff, on which I was serving. On September 16, 2009, we met with Representative Nita Lowey, the chair of the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee of t Read More...


Can U.N. peacekeepers fight terrorists? |

Richard Gowan

Can peacekeepers fight terrorists? Last Friday, Islamist militants killed thirty Burundian soldiers serving with the African Union’s mission in Somalia (AMISOM). The incident was overshadowed by the news of further terrorist attacks in Tunisia, Kuwait, and France. But it is an ugly reminder that multilateral peace operations, often relying on poo Read More...


The Enduring Legitimacy of UN Peace Operations |

Jim Della-Giacoma

A decade ago, there were some critics ready to predict a downturn in international peace operations. The start of the 21st century had seen a return of peacekeeping from East Timor to Liberia, but critics saw this as a temporary phenomenon. The first Annual Review of Global Peace Operations published in 2006 wasn’t the product of one of the ske Read More...


European militaries need to pull their weight |

Richard Gowan

Germany and its European allies are overburdened with problems ranging from the Greek crisis to the Ukrainian conflict. It is understandable that strengthening United Nations peace operations in remote trouble spots such as Côte d'Ivoire and Sudan is not very high up their agendas. But there are growing calls for European powers, and Germany in pa Read More...


Keeping peace among peacekeepers |

WPS Sidhu

The word peacekeeping does not appear anywhere in the Charter of the UN. Yet, ever since the first peacekeeping operation was launched in May 1948 in the Middle East, that one word evokes the very raison d’etre of the world body. Since then the UN has deployed 70 peacekeeping operations with some significant triumphs (East Timor) and spectacular Read More...