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ready or not2

New Study on UN Peace Operations

In the new report Ready or Not – Revamping UN Peacekeeping for the 21st Century FOI analysts Claes Nilsson and Kristina Zetterlund look at the UN’s capacity to lead peacekeeping operations.

Sharp criticism was levelled at the UN’s capacity to lead peacekeeping operations in the wake of failures in Rwanda and on the Balkans, leading several countries to disengage from UN missions in the 1990s. Was the criticism justified, and what is the state of affairs today? The study looks at some larger reforms since 2000 and analyses the UN’s present capacity to lead complex peacekeeping missions. Questions such as coordination, cooperation with external partners and possible future scenarios are discussed. The report is based on a thorough literature review as well as interviews with practitioners and analysts in Sweden and New York.

-  As NATO winds down its operations in Afghanistan, many are starting to look for alternative international engagements, and the UN is re-emerging as an option. However, it has been long since many of these countries’ troops served under a UN flag, and the return may be harder than expected. For Sweden, the decision to contribute to the UN Mission in Mali is bringing many of these issues to the fore, says Kristina Zetterlund.

The study concludes that the UN has changed considerably since the 1990s.

- The UN today is not the same organisation as back then – it is an organisation more capable and proficient at leading big, complex peacekeeping missions. But many challenges remain, not least concerning the dynamics between the UN and its member states, says Claes Nilsson.

The authors note that from a military perspective the UN can still not compare with for example NATO. Instead, the organisation’s strength is found in its ability to simultaneously employ political, military and civilian instruments for a comprehensive response to conflict.

FOI, Swedish Defence Research Agency

Swedish Defence Research Agency
SE-164 90 Stockholm

Phone +46 8 555 030 00
Fax +46 8 555 031 00

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