United Nations Peace Operations: Reconsidering the Principles, Reforming the Practice

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2016-60-3-16-26

A. Nikitin, MGIMO-University, 76, Prosp. Vernadskogo, Moscow, 119454, Russian Federation; Primakov Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO), 23, Profsoyuznaya Str., Moscow 117997, Russian Federation; National Research University Higher School of Economics, 20, Myasnitskaya Str., Moscow, 101000, Russian Federation (an@inno.mgimo.ru

Abstract. The article describes and debates main points and recommendations of the Report-2015 of the Independent High Level Group on the UN Peace Operations. The author analyses doctrinal innovations and practical guidelines suggested by the Group and debates consequences of the recommended “politicizing” of the UN operations (assuring the leading role for the UN in any political peace process supported by UN peacekeepers, and avoiding operations where the UN role is limited to passive disengagement of conflict sides). Necessity for and limits of reconsidering traditional principles of peacekeeping, such as impartiality, consent of conflict parties, and use of force for self-defence are questioned. Trends in UN operations are compared with trends in operations related to conflicts in the Post-Soviet space (South Ossetia/Georgia, Abkhazia/Georgia, Tajikistan, Transnistria/Moldova, etc.). The author advocates timeliness for an extended interpretation of the “defence of the mandate” formula instead of the classical “self-defence of the contingent”. It is suggested to practically erase the dividing line between operations of the “peacekeeping” type under the UN DPKO, and “political missions” under the UN Political Department. The arsenal of the UN instruments for conflict resolution must be widened from non-intrusive observation missions, conflict prevention and mediation, through support of ceasefire agreements and implementation of peace accords, down to coercive peace enforcement, offensive elements, and UN Charter Chapter VII-based collective operations against aggressive regimes and states. Poorly defined functions and insufficiently clarified use of force limits for the SC-mandated “UN Intervention Brigade” in Democratic Republic of Congo lead to unnecessary involvement of the UN into coercive actions. The experience of the UN “infrastructural hubs” establishing, like the one in Entebbe (Uganda) used for supplying eight African UN operations, is described. New technology for peacekeeping, like the use of unpiloted flying drones, opens new opportunities, but creates legal and practical problems. A distinction of functions between “blue helmets” (specially trained multinational UN contingents) and “green helmets” (regular national armies used by states in foreign conflicts) is recommended, including avoidance of counter-terrorism tasks and strong coercive tasks for the UN peacekeepers. Parallel and interfaced “partnerships” between the limited UN operations and more forceful national/coalition operations in the same areas are suggested instead. 

Keywords: peacekeeping, peace operations, United Nations, Collective Security Treaty Organization, regional organizations, conflicts, conflict resolution, preventive diplomacy, use of force principles, mediation 

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For citation:
Nikitin A. United Nations Peace Operations: Reconsidering the Principles, Reforming the Practice. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2016, vol. 60, no. 3, pp. 16-26. https://doi.org/10.20542/0131-2227-2016-60-3-16-26

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