United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres rightly prioritizes performance by including it as one of the five pillars of his Action for Peacekeeping (A4P) reform initiative. Peacekeeping operations are a principal tool, and one of the most expensive and visible ways, that the UN intervenes to prevent and mitigate conflict. Improving peacekeeping performance is thus essential, but it will not be easy.
As the prospect of United States funding cuts hangs over the United Nations and its flagship peacekeeping operations like the sword of Damocles, many are asking whether the threat might in fact provide the impetus for necessary reforms. The picture will become clearer at the April 6 Security Council thematic debate on peacekeeping, which the US is organizing. If UN member states remain focused on reform and reinvest in political strategies, and if the bureaucracy helps itself by initiating real rather than merely rhetorical change, a positive outcome is possible.
Reports of proposed US cuts have generated much panic around Turtle Bay for the past couple of months. This started with a January draft US presidential executive order—never signed into action—recommending “eliminating wasteful and counterproductive giving” to the world body. It culminated in March with the release of the US federal budget blueprint for 2018, which confirmed the White House’s intention to cut 40% of the State Department’s $2.2 billion annual contribution to the UN’s overall peacekeeping budget, which comes to just under $8 billion.
How a peace operation is financed is always an important issue. But money matters for the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) have recently become highly politicized. This is in large part because of the complicated set of arrangements and mechanisms that are required to fund AMISOM. Particularly since mid-2015, some of these arrangements have come under pressure to change owing to a variety of factors, including the longevity of the mission, circumstances in the global economy, and other international crises on the African continent and beyond. The changes have had the predictable knock-on effect of causing political arguments between the African Union, the AMISOM troop-contributing countries (TCCs), and some of the mission’s key partners, most notably the European Union.
This report answers six key questions to explain how AMISOM is financed and how some recent decisions taken by the EU have generated considerable conflict within the mission and among some of its contributing states.
There is no more annoying phrase in discussions of international affairs than “If the United Nations did not exist, we would have to invent it!” It is certainly true that the world urgently needs an effective collective security organization today. But the organization it needs bears only a passing resemblance to the UN we currently have.
A genuinely “fit for purpose” UN would have the tools to manage three dangerous trends in international conflict. The first is the resurgence of major power competition in trouble spots such as the eastern Ukraine, South China Sea and Syria. The second is the proliferation of transnational violent extremism in the Middle East and North Africa. The third is the problem of chronic instability in fragile states and regions such as the two Sudans. » More
It’s been more than 25 years since the Cold War ended, more than a dozen since we created an International Criminal Court, and a decade since the UN World Summit recognised the Responsibility to Protect civilians – and yet there’s been scant progress in preventing armed conflict and responding rapidly enough to protect civilians.
It’s not the fault of UN peacekeepers themselves, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1988 and have helped to manage and improve conditions in 69 armed conflicts worldwide, with 56 operations since 1988. Indeed, May 29 is recognised as the International Day of UN Peacekeepers. » More