The June 2015 report of the High Level Independent Panel on UN Peace Operations recommended numerous reforms to these operations. While steps have been taken to implement them, for instance by adopting phased and prioritized mandates for the missions in Mali and the Central African Republic, much remains to be done. In particular, the UN needs to create a financing mechanism for peace operations and adopt clear procedures for support to UN-endorsed African Union operations. But lack of political will from the UN Security Council, member states and troop contributing countries, as well bureaucratic resistance, and possible financial constraints remain significant obstacles.
African countries contribute the most peacekeepers to missions on the continent. However, many troop-contributing countries are hybrid democratic/autocratic political systems—characterized as neopatrimonial—and some are accused of using peacekeeping missions as a means to generate rents for their regimes to retain control at home. Others send their troops only to find them partaking in the recipient country’s neo-patrimonial system—their troops exploiting the system to extract economic rents. In both cases, the purpose of peacekeeping has been undermined and the conflict perhaps prolonged.
Once principally a war-fighting operation, the AMISOM peacekeeping mission in Somalia now has a mandate of “stabilization.” AMISOM continues to expand government-controlled territory and degrade al-Shabaab, but now also pursues more political aims like establishing partners throughout the country and developing national security forces. To achieve success and develop effective strategies for AMISOM and future peacekeeping missions, “stabilization” and its political and military elements need better definition.
Contemporary UN mandates have often blurred the lines separating peacekeeping, stabilization, counterinsurgency, counterterrorism, atrocity prevention, and state-building. Peacekeepers are rarely trained or equipped to deal with such challenges. Given its growing interest in fostering a stable and prosperous Africa, the United States should articulate a strategic approach to peace operations in Africa and to clarify its interagency processes and funding authorities on this issue. The United States should also selectively invest in African partners that share its conflict-management objectives and are themselves building locally sustainable peacekeeping institutions.
State capacity is not the same as state legitimacy. Though it is essential to build and strengthen the institutions of governance in post-conflict societies to provide for its citizens, the people of a country must feel that the government is endeavoring to protect and provide for all constituents—all races, religions, and ethnicities. To demonstrate this, a government must decentralize to the level where the impact of the conflict was mostly felt. It must create policy informed by the needs of actual citizens its civil service has met. Until it does this, it has not earned legitimacy among its people.
Nearly half of all uniformed peacekeepers are African and countries like Ghana, Rwanda, Senegal, and South Africa have provided troops to UN and AU missions almost continuously over the past decade. Despite such vast experience, African peacekeepers are often reliant on international partners for training before they can deploy on these missions. Institutionalizing a capacity-building model within African defense forces is a more sustainable approach that maintains a higher level of readiness to respond to emerging crises and contingencies on the continent.
Many of today’s conflicts cannot be resolved without taking into account transnational drivers as well. From franchised terrorism to financing from international criminal networks, diaspora groups, and multinational resource extraction—transnational conflict drivers penetrated one-third of all intrastate conflicts in 2013. Peacekeeping missions must improve their transnational situational awareness so that they may focus on insulating domestic political processes from corruptive transnational influences.
More than 50 peace operations have deployed in Africa since 2000, including multiple African-led or hybrid African Union/United Nations initiatives. The frequency of these deployments underscores the ongoing importance of these operations in the playbook of regional and multilateral bodies to prevent conflict, protect civilians, and enforce ceasefires and peace agreements. Recent operations have featured increasingly ambitious goals and complex institutional partnerships. The achievements and shortcomings of these operations offer vital lessons for optimizing this increasingly central but still evolving tool for addressing conflict and instability.
Organized crime often surges in post-conflict contexts, becoming a major source of funds for competing factions within emerging governance structures. Moreover, once organized crime becomes deeply entrenched in a post-conflict political economy, it typically delays the recovery process, weakens the political transition, and complicates peacekeeping interventions. Peace operations need to confront these dangers early by embedding more investigative and intelligence expertise in missions to better assess and track illicit activities while deploying more robust policing capacity to disrupt organized criminal networks.
Peace operations have been a principal tool used to curb conflict in Africa over the past decade, with over 40 operations deployed since 2000. This article takes stock of lessons learned from these experiences and the implications they hold for improving the effectiveness of future peace operations in Africa. Other languages available here.
A detailed update on the growth of the continental (AU) and regional (RECs) institutions designed to execute strategy and operations for the five African peace brigades. Includes information on the logistical plans, command and control, equipment, and mandates of the ASF.
The small investigative teams appointed to monitor sanctions, analyze conflict trends, and identify governance gaps and institutional weaknesses in many conflict-affected countries present powerful complements to peacekeeping operations. Clarifying and coordinating roles, responsibilities, and strategies between these panels of experts and peacekeeping operations will produce mutual benefits and strengthen overall peace and post-conflict reconstruction processes.
Since 2004 the UN has sought to better align security, political, development, governance, and humanitarian activities within peace operations toward common strategic objectives. This “Integrated Approach” concept will require additional training for mission personnel regarding the peace and political process governing a particular post-conflict setting, the sequence of reconstruction strategies, and special coordination mechanisms with bilateral donors, the AU, and NGOs.
While security in Africa depends on African stakeholders assuming ownership over stabilization strategies, demands for “African solutions to African problems” oversimplify the resources and partnerships necessary to ensure peace. Using this mantra, autocrats can thwart democracy promotion and the priority the UN gives to African security efforts may be downgraded.
Fifty military, police, and civilian representatives from African states and organizations reviewed the AU’s peacekeeping mission in Darfur and proposed strategic- and operational-level recommendations regarding African-led peacekeeping mission structures, planning, operations, and resource allocations. Specific aims were also developed for African states, the AU, regional organizations and international partners.
Chapter on peacekeeping failures in Somalia, Rwanda, Angola, and Bosnia takes the less conventional view that the UN record actually includes a number of important, though understudied, success stories. Howard argues that UN peacekeeping succeeds when field missions establish significant autonomy from UN headquarters, allowing civilian and military staff to adjust to the post-civil war environment. Howard recommends future reforms be oriented toward devolving decision-making power to the field missions.
Security Topics: Peacekeeping