African Peace Operations

The goal of the Global Peace Operations Review is to provide the most comprehensive overview of multilateral contributions to peacekeeping, conflict prevention, and post-conflict peacebuilding. In doing this, our objective is to take a focus on all peace operations around the globe. This page is dedicated to the African continent- home to the majority of UN peace operations.

Collected below are some recent commentaries, essays, and interview of special relevance looking at African peace operations and peacebuilding initiatives. The series of articles provide an interesting perspective on the challenges facing African peace operations and the way forward in terms of dealing with these from experts in the field.

Readers interested in this subject area might also consult GPOR's related publications library to download Peace Capacities Network Synthesis Report Rising Powers and Peace Operations, the Prioritizing the Protection of Civilians in UN Peace Operations report, Can Force Be Useful in the Absence of a Political Strategy? Lessons from the UN missions to the DR Congo from the Congo Research Group, the Report of an Independent Review on Sexual Exploitation and Abuse by International Peacekeeping Forces in the Central African Republic entitled Taking Action on Sexual Exploitation and Abuse by Peacekeepers, The AU Common Position of the UN Peace Operations Review and the AU Common Position on the Post-2015 Goals.

We would like to grow our collections of works in this subject area and submissions to GPOR are welcomed. Guidelines for authors can be found here. Additions to the GPOR related publications library would also be welcomed. Please contact the editor-in-chief with your suggestions.

Partnering for sustainable peace in Liberia


Amanda Lucey and Liezelle Kumalo

This policy brief is based on field research carried out in November 2016. It makes targeted, practical recommendations to the UN Peacebuilding Commission on enhancing its support to Liberia, drawing on a wide range of partnerships with other internal and external peacebuilding actors. Partnering for sustainable peace in Liberia Amanda Lucey and Liezelle Kumalo 2 Partnering for sustainable peace in Liberia (UNSC), the PBC and UN Country Teams. | Read More

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


Liezelle Kumalo and 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 into Liberian women rising from the grassroots to be equally represented in decision-making forums. | Read More

Liberia’s journey to national ownership


Amanda Lucey and 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. | Read More

A Ghanaian peacekeeper with the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL). 16 November 2012 Cestos City, Liberia

Sustaining Peace and Peace Operation Mandates: The Liberia Transition


Gizem Sucuoglu

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. | Read More

A Female Member of the Ethiopian Battalion of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) Joins the Military Observers in a Parade After Receiving Medals in Recognition of Their Contribution to the Mission ©UN Photo

Going, but not gone: UNMIL stays on in Liberia


Amanda Lucey and 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. | Read More

UNMIL peacekeepers conduct a rapid reaction training exercise. Monrovia, Liberia, January 25, 2013. (Staton Winter/UNMIL Photo)

Sustaining Peace in Security Transitions: The Liberian Opportunity


Gizem Sucuoglu and 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. | Read More

UN Peacekeeping in South Sudan: A Kiwi Comes to Juba



Megan Roberts

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-General Ban Ki-moon tapped Shearer, a former New Zealand MP, as his special representative to oversee one of the United Nations’ most expensive missions, composed of nearly fourteen thousand uniformed personnel and two thousand civilians. | Read More

Towards a Continental Strategy for Countering Violent Extremism in Africa |

Tarek A. Sharif and 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 foreign fighters who may eventually return from Iraq, Syria, and Libya to other areas of North Africa, the Maghreb, and the Horn of Africa. | Read More

Sustaining Peace Requires Urgent Climate Change Action |

Jonathan Rozen

Worsening climate conditions directly threaten prospects for attaining the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and with them the conditions for peaceful societies. | Read More

El Ghassim Wane: “Les Nations Unies s’adaptent à leur environnement sécuritaire à travers des formules créatives” |

El Ghassim Wane and Alexandra Novosseloff

El Ghassim Wane of Mauritania has been appointed on December 3rd by the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations. He was previously the Director of the Peace and Security Department at the African Union Commission in Addis Ababa since 2009. | Read More

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

Amanda Lucey and Jacqueline Cochrane

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. | 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 strength. | Read More

When should blue helmets walk away from a conflict? |

Alexandra Novosseloff, Emily Paddon Rhoads and Jason Stearns

Emily Paddon Rhoads’ book “Taking Sides in Peacekeeping: Impartiality and the Future of the United Nations” is an important study of the meaning, reality, and consequences of impartiality for peacekeepers. The issue of impartiality is one of the core principles of UN peacekeeping, but it is also one of the most challenging for those on the ground in multidimensional peace operations. | 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 troops with a robust mandate to stabilize the capital, Juba. | 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. | Read More

Workers handle core samples from a new gold mining project. Kibali, Democratic Republic of the Congo, October 18, 2014. (Simon Dawson/Bloomberg/Getty Images)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 | Read More

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon beats a traditional drum with Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza during a dinner hosted by Mr. Nkurunziza in Bujumbura, Burundi in June 2010.With “Sustaining Peace” can the UN turn rhetoric into action? |

Gizem Sucuoglu and 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, intimidation, media suppression, and the stoking of ethnic tensions, fears of widespread violence rose, triggering mass cross-border displacement. | Read More

Commemoration Ceremony and Parade on the occasion of the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers. The event was held in Juba, South Sudan at the Headquarters of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan [UNMISS] under the theme 'Honouring Our Heroes'. UNPOL.Getting clear about conflict prevention at the UN |

Adriana Erthal Abdenur and Gustavo de Carvalho

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. | 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. | Read More

©ISS Africa

PSC Interview: Creating Peaceful Cross-Border Spaces |

Aguibou Diarrah

African borders and their lack of clear demarcation have been identified as one of the root causes of conflict on the continent. The African Union’s Border Programme (AUPB) works toward reducing this conflict risk.| Read More


Disputed Elections top the list of the AU's Early Warning for 2016 |

Frederic Ngoga-Gateretse

The African Union (AU) has made an effort to prevent conflict through early warning, but this has turned out to be a formidable task. The PSC Report spoke to Ambassador Frederic Ngoga Gateretse, Head of the Early Warning and Conflict Prevention Division in the AU Peace and Security Department. | Read More

A family mourns a massacre victim in Mokoko, October 2014 © Dearbhla Glynn

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 stated that the massacres are the work of Ugandan rebels from the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF). | Read More


PSC interview: We're asking too much from the AU |

Gustavo De Carvalho & Onnie Kok

Burundi has been moving toward greater instability since President Pierre Nkurunziza decided to stand for a third term in May 2015. Nkurunziza claimed he was entitled to a third term because his first was a post-transition mandate and he was not actually elected by the people. | Read More

© University of Chicago Press Books

Cedric de Coning: A Unique Model of African Peace Operations |

Cedric De Coning

In recent years, the world has witnessed increasing commitment by African nations to contributing to peace and security on the continent. Dr. Cedric de Coning, a South African scholar based at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI) and also associated with ACCORD, is an expert in the field of peace operations in Africa. | Read More

A Burundian expatriate holds a placard reading “Burundi bleeds” during a candlelight vigil held in December. (Dai Kurikawa/European Pressphoto Agency)

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

Hanny Megally & Sarah Cliffe

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 from death at the hands of government security forces and government-inspired militia.| Read More

Members of the Indian Battalion at UNMISS assisting displaced persons who have fled their homes and are seeking safety and help from the UN. 16 December 2013 | © UN Photo

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

Ralph Mamiya

Fifteen years ago, the Brahimi Report established the importance of the protection of civilians in UN peacekeeping. The recent report of the High-level Panel on Peace Operations and the Secretary-General’s follow-up report on theFuture of UN Peace Operations each highlight the importance of the protection mandate while also recognizing that the mandate is in need of clarity. | Read More

©Sanogo/AFP/Getty Images

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. | Read More

Count Folke Bernadotte, UN Mediator for @UN Multimedia | Palestine, and his staff, in a September 1948 briefing for UN military observers prior to their deployment in the Holy Land. Left to right are: General Frank Stoner, Chief of Communications for the Mediator; Count Bernadotte; Colonel Nils Brunssen, Sweden, Chief Military Observer in Jerusalem, and Dr. Ralph Bunche, Personal Representative of the Secretary-General.

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

Teresa Whitfield

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. Certainly, no one would ever advocate poor political technical or financial support to a peace process. | Read More


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

Jason Stearns

The UN peacekeeping mission in the DR Congo has been critical in the testing and development of peacekeeping doctrine. Its fifteen-year lifespan––the longest in the UN’s history if we except deployments that are strictly confined to observation––has seen the mission take on a variety of mandates and roles: It has observed ceasefires (1999-2003), played a key part in a political process (1999-2006), been the guarantor of a transitional government (2003-2006), and managed a stabilization program (2010-present). | 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). | Read More


Choosing Envoys Wisely |

Bart M.J. Szewcyk

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 decisions in terms of selecting special envoys; defining their mandates; deploying, financing and supporting an envoy’s support team; and establishing report and oversight mechanisms. | Read More

Violence escalates ... An activist holding a placard reading “Save Burundi” protests in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi on December 18, 2015, against recent killings in neighbouring Burundi by government forces in a crackdown against public dissent to a controversial third-presidential term. ©AFP

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

Lesley Connolly

Burundi has been moving toward greater instability since President Pierre Nkurunziza decided to stand for a third term in May 2015. Nkurunziza claimed he was entitled to a third term because his first was a post-transition mandate and he was not actually elected by the people. | Read More


As UN peacekeeping veers toward counterterr, US steps in |

Jim Della-Giacoma

Along a quiet cease-fire line in Cyprus, U.N. peacekeepers handle an increasingly old-fashioned job: actually keeping the peace. The last deadly incident was in 1996. Today's challenges include keeping poachers and rogue farmers out of no man's land. "Most of the time we don't wear weapons," said the force commander, Maj. Gen. Kristin Lund. | Read More


Fog of Peace: UN Peacekeeping needs to focus more on political strategy and less on troops |

Jean Marie Guehenno

Distinguished former Under Secretary-General of Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Marie Guéhenno shares his insight on the current state of UN peacekeeping in an interview with CIC Senior Visiting Fellow Alexandra Novosseloff.| Read More


Oxford Handbook tells the History of UN Peacekeeping Successes and Failures |

Joachim Koops

The Oxford Handbook of United Nations Peacekeeping Operations (2015) provides in-depth analysis of all UN peacekeeping operations since 1948 until 2013 as well as thematic chapters on UN and non-UN peacekeeping trends and developments. The following is an edited transcript of an interview by Alexandra Novosseloff (CIC Senior Visiting Fellow) with two of the four editors: Joachim Koops and Paul D. Williams.| Read More


A Message from Peaceland : Change the Way UN Peace Operations Interact with Local Actors |

Severine Autesserre

In her book Peaceland, political scientist Séverine Autesserre (Barnard College, Columbia University) analyzes the everyday practices, narratives and habits of interveners in peace operations and how these often-unconscious factors influence and sometimes impair the effectiveness of international efforts. | Read More

© Brookings/UN

Can 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. | Read More

ten_trends_infographic_300x45010 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 – leapt by 60%. | Read More

USG Herve Ladsous launches drones on Goma airportNew 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. | Read More