Peacekeeping by the United Nations is a role held by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations as "a unique and dynamic instrument developed by the Organization as a way to help countries torn by conflict create the conditions for lasting peace" It is distinguished from both peacebuilding and peacemaking.
"Many peacekeeping veterans told us that the civilian personnel system was failing the missions, as well as the personnel themselves," he recalled. "If there was only one problem to fix, they said, it would be this one. Ten years later, I fear many of them might say the same thing. ... This question deserves serious attention and debate."
Seeing its military forces worldwide grow by nearly 500% since 1999, surpassing the deployment of all regional organizations combined, the UN has come under particular heavy pressure to evolve.The expansion has not just been a manpower issue, it has involved taking on new tasks that raise questions over what we mean by "peacekeeping." Including: pushing civilian activities to the point of de facto and de jure government; giving less expansive but politically sensitive assistance to the US and its allies after the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan; the most controversial aspect concerns not their civilian dimension but differences surrounding the use of force.
The public debates endangered by these proposals led to a burgeoning realization that peace operations- so often seen as humanitarian and well-intentioned- have grown increasingly complicated. Electorates have been exposed to the reality that "peacekeepers" are now frequently expected to use force to secure territory, protect civilians and maintain public order.These mandates have not only strained peace operations doctrine but the resources needed to sustain the missions, especially UN missions.
Peacekeeping missions face many challenges. Although peacekeepers are supposed to maintain peace, their limited mandates do not address the root causes of conflicts. The UN experiences difficulty in recruiting a sufficient number of well-trained peacekeepers, and providing them with the appropriate equipment. Peacekeeping missions have also been marred by periodic scandals over criminal behavior by their personnel.
Today's multidimensional peacekeeping operations are called upon not only to maintain peace and security, but also to facilitate the political process, protect civilians, assist in the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants; support the organization of elections, protect and promote human rights and assist in restoring the rule of law.
In 2000, Brahimi's report grappled with how the U.N. ignored advance warnings of the 1994 Rwanda genocide and failed to save thousands of Bosnian Muslims from a Serb massacre in Srebrenica. The report said U.N. peacekeeping's credibility suffered most from its "reluctance to distinguish victim from aggressor."
The range of peacekeeping activities is staggering, from stabilizing regional conflicts, to facilitating free and fair elections, to protecting civilians during humanitarian crises. UN peacekeeping supports global and national security at a fraction of the cost of other military forces. In fact, UN peacekeeping missions operate on less than one percent of what the nations of the world spend on their respective military forces.
Although not provided for in the Charter, the practice of peacekeeping began in 1948 when the first United Nations military observers were deployed to the Middle East. During the ensuing Cold War Years, the goals of United Nations peacekeeping were necessarily limited to maintaining cease-fires and stabilizing situations on the ground, so that efforts could be made at the political level to resolve the conflict by peaceful means. Several of the United Nations longstanding peacekeeping operations fit this "traditional" model.
In 1992, due to an increase in the number of peacekeeping missions, the UN established the coordinating organization, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO). Today, the DPKO oversees the second largest military deployment around the world. UN peacekeepers have engaged in more than 60 field missions, each mission authorized with the consent of the United States and other UN Member States.
Today the UN has over 100,000 peacekeeping personnel in the field - mostly soldiers, but also police and civilian advisors, working in more than a dozen operations.
UN Peacekeeping is guided by three basic principles: (1) Consent of the parties; (2) Impartiality; (3) Non-use of force except in self-defence and defence of the mandate.
Peacekeeping is one among a rand of activities undertaken by the United Nations and other international actors to maintain international peace and security throughout the world. It is important for practitioners to understand how it relates to and differs from conflict prevention, peacemaking, peace enforcement and peacebuilding.