Thematic Essays

“Their Priority Is Not the People”: Civilian Views on Peace Operations in Africa |

Thijs Van Laer

“Their priority is not the people of Somalia,” a Somali woman who had recently fled to the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya said about peacekeepers in her home country. “It is the government and themselves.” Unfortunately, this view is not unique. Civilians in countries with peace operations often experience a wide gap between them and those m Read More...


Moral Obligation: UN Missions Should Not Abandon Vulnerable Civilians in Critical Times |

Kofi Nsia-Pepra

United Nations (UN) missions’ inaction in response to civilian killings by government troops in Darfur, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has precipitated international outcry and raised concerns on viability of UN missions in fulfilling their civilian protection mandates. In all these cases, peacekeepers are trapped in quag Read More...


Diplomacy in Action: Expanding the UN Security Council’s Role in Crisis and Conflict Prevention |

Richard Gowan

The UN Security Council has the potential to play a greater direct role in crisis response and mediation not only in New York, but in the field. It has done so sporadically in the past. In its early years, the Council experimented with inter-governmental missions to investigate potential conflicts and undertake mediation in cases including the Balk Read More...


Can we make UN peacekeeping great again? |

Alexandra Novosseloff

If UN peacekeeping operations are “at a crossroads” as the Secretary-General told the Security Council on 6 April, then it is a policy and linguistic roundabout. This is the same phrase that a senior official used to describe the Brahimi report in 2000 and others used to characterize the work of the High-level Independent Panel on Peace Operati Read More...


Sustaining Peace and Prevention: Comparing Responses to Crises in Gambia and Burundi |

Center on International Cooperation

This workshop was the fourth in the “Applying Sustaining Peace” series, and focused on how to conceptualize prevention through a sustaining peace lens. Later this year, the Secretary-General’s forthcoming report on Sustaining Peace will further explore and define sustaining peace. This workshop drew on two recent and interesting cases, the EC Read More...


Democratise or disintegrate: How the AU can help South Sudan |

Amanda Lucey

Liezelle Kumalo

The implementation of South Sudan’s latest peace agreement appears to be at a standstill. Insecurity, food shortages and the breakdown in governance have forced more than 1.5 million people to flee the country. President Salva Kiir’s announcement of a forthcoming national dialogue offers some hope. Yet people are divided on the legitimacy of t Read More...


Partnering for sustainable peace in Liberia |

Amanda Lucey

Liezelle Kumalo

Liberia is at a pivotal point in its transition to a peaceful democracy. In October 2017 the country will have its first ‘open seat’ elections. The incumbent, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, will step down and hand over power to the leader of one of the 22 political parties that are currently participating in the election. Moreover, despite se Read More...


Restructuring the UN Secretariat to Strengthen Preventative Diplomacy and Peace Operations |

Sarah Cliffe

Alexandra Novosseloff

Since 1945, the United Nations has helped support many successful peace processes and protected millions of civilians around the world.  Peace operations deliver results: research estimates suggest that the presence of a UN peace keeping mission can reduce the risk of relapse into conflict by 75 – 85 percent;1  and that larger deployments dimin Read More...


Sustaining Peace and Peace Operation Mandates: The Liberia Transition |

Gizem Sucuoglu

Applying Sustaining Peace Workshop 1 On 14 December 2016, NYU’s Center on International Cooperation (CIC), the Dag Hammarskjold Foundation (DHF) and the International Peace Institute (IPI) organized the first in a series of workshops in support of efforts to better understand and implement sustaining peace. At this first workshop, participants Read More...


GPOR Annual Compilation |

This is the second edition of the Global Peace Operations Review (GPOR) annual compilation. It is the first to collect a full year’s worth of content from the website in a single publication. Using an online platform allows us to constantly innovate, and we plan to continue to evolve between these annual releases. Producing the annual compilation Read More...


Towards a Continental Strategy for Countering Violent Extremism in Africa |

Tarek A. Sharif

Joanne Richards

Violent Extremism is now recognized as a growing threat to peace and security in Africa, as exemplified by the recent terrorist attacks in Garissa, Abidjan, and Ouagadougou. While much of the policy discussion on Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) focuses on the return of radicalized foreign fighters to the West, less attention is directed to those Read More...


Has UN Peacekeeping Become More Deadly? |

Marina E. Henke

Many practitioners believe that peacekeeping has become an increasingly dangerous undertaking in recent years. My research paper “Has UN Peacekeeping Become More Deadly? Analyzing Trends in UN Fatalities”, tries to get at the heart of this question. It examines trends in fatalities using a new dataset compiled by the Department of Peacekeeping Read More...


Challenges for Human Rights Sections of UN Peace Operations |

Alexis Guidotti

Recent adaptations of peacekeeping practice are bringing into question the role of civilian components in UN peace operations, notably the human rights sections. When António Guterres succeeds Ban Ki-moon as UN Secretary-General, many problems will be waiting for him, including challenges to the fundamental values underpinning UN peacekeeping. Un Read More...


No Caveats, Please?: Breaking a Myth in UN Peace Operations |

Alexandra Novosseloff

For years, the UN Secretariat said caveats were not allowed in peacekeeping operations. Mentioning them was a kind of “taboo”. They existed on the ground but were rarely acknowledged at the political level in New York. But when operations faced a crisis and troops needed to take more risks than usual, the hitherto hidden restrictions quickly ap Read More...


The Challenges of Full Deployment on UN Peace Operations |

Ryan Rappa

The UN has always had problems deploying its largest, infantry-heavy missions. The 2015 Leaders’ Summit on Peacekeeping and this week’s 2016 UN Peacekeeping Defence Ministerial in London are Member State driven initiatives to do better. Broader participation in contributing to missions is a key part of rapid deployment as well as reaching full Read More...


When should blue helmets walk away from a conflict? |

Richard Gowan

The renewed crisis in South Sudan is turning into a decisive test for the United Nations. There is a growing international outcry over reports that local forces raped and killed civilians almost in front of UN peacekeepers. The Security Council has struggled to persuade the South Sudanese government to accept the deployment of an additional 4,000 t Read More...


Demystifying Intelligence in UN Peace Operations: Toward an Organizational Doctrine |

Alexandra Novosseloff

In a way, the title of our research paper “Demystifying Intelligence in UN Peace Operations: Toward an Organizational Doctrine”, speaks for itself. We all know that the UN secretariat has been walking on eggs with this issue of intelligence for years; doing it without saying it and without realizing it. But with peace operations involved in inc Read More...


With “Sustaining Peace” can the UN turn rhetoric into action? |

Gizem Sucuoglu

Tanisha Hewanpola

In April 2015, Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza announced that he would be seeking a third-term of office—a move that his opponents decried as unconstitutional. Protests and clashes between opposition supporters and security forces followed. Amid a rapidly deteriorating climate of serious human-rights violations, extrajudicial killings, inti Read More...


The Tunisia Conundrum: Sowing dictatorship, harvesting terrorism |

Hanny Megally

Why is Tunisia producing the world’s largest numbers of jihadi foreign fighters when the country is seemingly the one success story emerging from the 2011 Arab uprisings? It is a conundrum that has confounded analysts not least because the answers have been very contradictory. Delving back into Tunisia’s modern history may help in contextualizi Read More...


Protection of Civilians needs to be understood as a collaborative strategy and not a campsite |

Hannah Dönges

In Bentiu and other protection of civilian sites in South Sudan, the UN peacekeeping mission performs all the functions of a state within a state. With the help of humanitarian partners, it feeds, protects, and organizes those displaced by a bitter internal conflict into what are small towns. At this UNMISS PoC site, there are 98.000 internally dis Read More...


Fixing UN Peacekeeping Operations: The World’s Most Complicated Army |

Barbara Crossette

It has been almost a year since a sweeping assessment of United Nations peacekeeping operations by experts recommended significant changes from top to bottom: a reformed hierarchy in New York and greater coordination and discipline among military contingents in ever-more dangerous missions around the world. Few of their substantive ideas have been Read More...


What Does New Momentum for UN Peace and Security Really Mean? |

Gustavo de Carvalho

Jonathan Rozen

A famous maxim of uncertain origin defines insanity as doing the same thing repeatedly, but expecting different results. In her opening statement at the United Nations (UN) High-Level Thematic Debate on Peace and Security, Nobel Peace laureate Leymah Gbowee used this definition to describe challenges faced by UN engagements in peace operations and Read More...


Key Messages from Civil Society on the UN’s role in Peace and Security |

Ashraf Swelam

Adriana Erthal Abdenur

Cedric de Coning

Karim Hafez

On its 70th anniversary, the United Nations finds itself at a crossroads. Old and new threats, challenges and risks to international peace and security are increasingly testing the ability of the organization and the efficacy of the instruments available to it as it attempts to fulfill its primary promise: to “save succeeding generations from the Read More...


Between Bureaucracy and Adhocracy: Crafting a Spectrum of UN Peace Operations |

Ian Johnstone

The array of tools the UN has developed to prevent, manage and resolve conflict has expanded in recent years. They are being deployed in new formats, from political missions and small peacebuilding teams, to large observer missions and multidimensional peace operations with offensive capabilities. But the High-level Independent Panel on Peace Opera Read More...


La Professionnalisation du Maintien de la Paix des Nations Unies ou le travail de Sisyphe |

Alexandra Novosseloff

Les critiques à l’égard du maintien de la paix des Nations Unies, de ses Casques bleus, sont nombreuses et font souvent, plus que ses succès, les gros titres de la presse nationale ou internationale ; le maintien de la paix subit les railleries d’opinions publiques, de classes politiques et de militaires qui comprennent mal comment fonctionn Read More...


GPOR Annual Compilation now available via print-on-demand |

For almost a decade, the Annual Review of Global Peace Operations (ARGPO) was the flagship publication of the Center on International Cooperation (CIC). During that time, CIC also released three editions of the Review of Political Missions. Together, they set the standard for analyzing UN and non-UN peace operations with enduring thematic essays, t Read More...


Who are the Killers of Beni? |

Jason Stearns

Since October 2014, the region around the town of Beni in north eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo) has been the site of some of the worst massacres in the country’s recent history. Over five hundred people have been killed and tens of thousands have fled their homes. The UN mission and the Congolese government have publicly state Read More...


Is the UN really moving toward gender equality? |

Ourania S. Yancopoulos

New research raises the question of whether the UN is burying statistics on gender representation in order to cover up lack of progress. The United Nation’s founding charter highlights not only the mission “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war,” but “to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights” - specifically, “in t Read More...


Politics in Place of Peace: The AU’s Role in Burundi |

Lesley Connolly

When the decision [around Burundi] reached the level of the Assembly of Heads of States, it showed that in absence of consent there is no political willingness of African leaders to act against their own Burundi has been moving toward greater instability since President Pierre Nkurunziza decided to stand for a third term in May 2015. Nkurunziza c Read More...


Preventing Violent Extremism by Protecting Rights And Addressing Root Causes |

Hanny Megally

Short-sighted policies, failed leadership, heavy-handed approaches, a single-minded focus only on security measures and an utter disregard for human rights have often made things worse. The eagerly-awaited United Nations Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism (PVE) is an ambitious and much-needed shift toward tackling the root causes that lea Read More...


Hurry Up and Wait: EU Battlegroups and a UN Rapid Reaction Force |

Yf Reykers

Throughout its public discourse, the EU keeps expressing a strong commitment toward supporting the UN in maintaining international peace and security. This includes habitually recommitting to deploying the EU Battlegroups. There have been many calls for the UN to develop a peacekeeping rapid reaction capacity that would allow blue helmets to fly o Read More...


Protection of Civilians Strategy: A Greater Role for the Council |

Ralph Mamiya

The protection of civilians mandate in peacekeeping was a reaction to the challenges peacekeepers directly faced in Rwanda and the Balkans and more generally a reaction to the ‘new wars’ of the post-Cold War world. Fifteen years ago, the Brahimi Report established the importance of the protection of civilians in UN peacekeeping. The recent rep Read More...


European Military Contributions to UN Peace Operations in Africa |

Richard Gowan

European forces have played a very limited military role in United Nations (UN) peace operations in Africa over the last two decades. In some periods, European personnel have accounted for less than 2% of the blue helmets on the continent. Yet there is now new momentum among NATO and European Union (EU) members to play a more significant part in UN Read More...


Support Mechanisms: Multilateral, Multi-Level, and Mushrooming |

Teresa Whitfield

This is the seventh essay in a series of seven that looks at the role of Multilateral Envoys in Peacemaking. The idea that “peace processes must be well-supported politically, technically and financially”, as UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon stated in the introduction to the UN Guidance for Effective Mediation, is something of a truism. Certai Read More...


Can Force Be Useful in the Absence of a Political Strategy? Lessons from the UN missions to the DR Congo |

Jason Stearns

This analysis was initially written for the Center on International Cooperation and the International Peace Institute as part of a series of internal papers for the High Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations. The UN peacekeeping mission in the DR Congo has been critical in the testing and development of peacekeeping doctrine. Its fifteen-yea Read More...


Le recours à la force est-il utile en l’absence de stratégie politique ? Enseignements des missions de l’ONU menées en RDC |

Jason Stearns

Cette analyse a d’abord été préparée pour le compte du Center on International Cooperation et du International Peace Institute, dans le cadre d’une série d’articles internes commandés par le Groupe d’études indépendant de haut niveau sur les opérations de paix (High Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations). La mission de maint Read More...


Multilateral Envoys: Challenges to Assessing Success |

Center on International Cooperation

This is the sixth essay in a series of seven that looks at the role of multilateral envoys in peacemaking. Envoys dispatched to make peace deploy with a bag full of assumptions. Those who send them believe the multilateral framework gives their emissary the moral legitimacy to intervene. They think that pooling efforts under one collective engage Read More...


Where Envoys Aren’t |

Teresa Whitfield

This is the fifth essay in a series of seven that looks at the role of multilateral envoys in peacemaking. This series of essays was conceived to document and analyze the work of multilateral envoys, particularly their engagement in efforts to mediate or manage armed conflict. It necessarily focuses on the conflicts in which one or more multilater Read More...


Meet the Envoys: Trends in Envoy Profiles and Appointments |

Nora Gordon

This is the fourth essay in a series of seven that looks at the role of multilateral envoys in peacemaking. Since the first UN mediator, Count Folke Bernadotte, was appointed in 1948 to serve as UN Mediator in Palestine, multilateral institutions have increasingly deployed envoys to mediate conflicts between and within countries, and more recentl Read More...


Choosing Envoys Wisely |

Bart M.J. Szewczyk

This is the third essay in a series of seven that looks at the role of multilateral envoys in peacemaking. Special envoys are, by definition, agents appointed by a principal or a group of principals for a particular task. Yet their scope of power and authority varies across institutions. Different international organizations have made distinct dec Read More...


Three’s a Crowd? Inter-Organisational Cooperation in Conflict Mediation |

Alischa Kugel

This is the second essay in a series of seven that looks at the role of multilateral envoys in peacemaking. Out of the at least 51 multilateral envoys deployed in 2013 to address conflict situations around the world, 28 envoys from different multilateral institutions worked together in mediating conflicts in the same country, region or sub-region Read More...


Lessons from Multilateral Envoys |

Alischa Kugel

Richard Gowan

This is the first essay in a series of seven that looks at the role of multilateral envoys in peacemaking. Mediation was a central concern for the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations convened in October 2014. The group had a deliberately broad mandate to review the UN’s peacekeeping operations (PKOs) and Special Political Missions ( Read More...


The Practical is the Political: The UN’s Global Study on Women, Peace and Security |

Rob Jenkins

Weighing in at just under five pounds, the 417-page Global Study on the Implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325, released last month, is nothing if not ambitious. Its expansive subtitle – “Preventing Conflict, Transforming Justice, Securing Peace” – correctly hints at the study’s broad thematic scope. Just recapitulating, cl Read More...


Triangular Cooperation – Key to All |

Alexandra Novosseloff

Triangular cooperation is an idea that has been around for many years. It is supported by many, feared by some, but so far it has never been really implemented. The concept has now been resurrected by the High-level Independent Panel on Peace Operations (HIPPO) report. It is the key for all peacekeeping operations. Without cooperation between the Read More...


UN Peace Operations and Counter-Terrorism – A Bridge Too Far? |

John Karlsrud

During the United Nations General Assembly, U.S. President Barack Obama chaired two summits – the first on peace operations on September 28, and one the following day on counter-terrorism. His participation in both demonstrated the level of commitment of the U.S., and the American belief that the UN is still relevant to tackling these challenges. Read More...


The Hazards of the Peculiar UN-NATO Relationship |

Yf Reykers

More than two decades ago, the UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali in An Agenda for Peace highlighted the necessity of regional support “to lighten the burden of the Council”. He called it “a matter of delegation”. One organization that has occasionally acted upon authorization of the UN Security Council (UNSC) is the North Atlantic Read More...


Can Attack Helicopters Save U.N. Peacekeeping? |

James Traub

Does U.N. peacekeeping matter? President Barack Obama believes that it does — and he has advocated the cause more forcefully than any of his predecessors since George H. W. Bush, who once looked to the U.N. to help forge a “new world order.” The catastrophes of Somalia, Rwanda, and Bosnia purged that dream forever; but from literally his firs Read More...


How can the UN move towards more people-centered peace operations? |

John Karlsrud

A slew of recent reviews, such as the high level panel on UN peace operations report (HIPPO report), the 2015 review of the UN peacebuilding architecture and the 2030 agenda for sustainable development, have all put people at the front and center of the international community’s efforts to bring about peace, security and development. These report Read More...


Les opérations de maintien de la paix : le réalisme confronté aux ambitions |

Alexandra Novosseloff

Les Casques bleus face à une nouvelle crise de croissance ? Contrairement aux pronostics faits à la fin des années 90, le maintien de la paix n’a cessé de s’accroitre depuis, au point d’atteindre un nouveau pic de déploiement, avec la mise en place de deux nouvelles opérations (MINUSMA-Mali et MINUSCA-Centrafrique) et l’augmentation Read More...


A Background to the Report of the High-Level Panel on Peace Operations |

Jean Arnault

A year ago, when the Secretary-General put forward the idea of a new review of peacekeeping operations, he naturally referred to the Brahimi report. He argued that as the 15-year anniversary of that report approached, it was necessary “to take stock of evolving expectations of UN peacekeeping and how the Organization can work toward a shared view Read More...


Missed Opportunities: Gender and the UN’s Peacebuilding and Peace Operations Reports |

Anne-Marie Goetz

Rob Jenkins

Gender issues are now a regular feature of the international community’s approach to promoting peace and security. Two high-profile reports recently issued by the UN – on peace operations and the organization’s peacebuilding architecture – include significant content on the role that women play in war and its aftermath. Both reports stress Read More...


The “Gaping Hole” in the UN for Sustaining Peace |

In 2015, multiple reviews of the UN’s peace efforts have added to the collective realization that UN peace operations – designed in the 1990s to support post-civil war peace deals – may have reached their limits for maintaining international peace and security. A UN High-level Independent Panel on Peace Operations has just published its repor Read More...


The UN Panel on Peace Operations: Getting the Politics Right? |

Jim Della-Giacoma

All peace operations are political. Ian Martin wrote an essay with that title in CIC’s first Review of Political Missions in 2010. It is unsurprising, then, that the report of the High-Level Panel on Peace Operations of which he has been a prominent member has the same starting point. When the United Nations intervenes, it is not using diplomacy Read More...


10 Trends in Peace Operations |

Richard Gowan

The last two years have seen a surge in peace operations. As the data in this review shows, UN deployments grew by 8.5% in 2013 and 2014 to involve over 100,000 soldiers and police officers. In the same period, NATO drew down its presence in Afghanistan but the number of personnel deployed by other regional organizations – primarily in Africa – Read More...


New Tools for Blue Helmets |

John Karlsrud

The United Nations had entered the 21st century”, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Hervé Ladsous told troops at a 2013 ceremony for the first deployment of observation drones in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In 2014, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched an expert panel review of technology and innovation in peacekeeping. When i Read More...