Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 08/2009

Peace Operations

May 2009

International Peace Institute


Major reassessments of UN peacekeeping have tended to follow in the wake of large-scale failures of peacekeeping operations. Continued violence in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the inability to mount a UN operation in Somalia, and the lack of progress in Darfur may or may not count as major failures. However, it is clear that some kind of reassessment is required. Those who mount and support peace operations, both in the UN Secretariat and in the field, are challenged on multiple levels— political, strategic, and operational—at the same time. The UN Departments of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) and Field Support (DFS) are often forced to operationalize increasingly challenging mandates from an increasingly polarized membership. The departments must do so in a more complex geopolitical environment than ever before and in cooperation with an array of national and international partners that often have competing agendas. Finally, the UN’s management and human resource policies and systems are not adequate to support over 110,000 currently deployed personnel. Its doctrine development does not yet fully prepare its peacekeepers—civilian, military, and police—for the ever-expanding mandates with which they are charged.