25 November 2015

FOI helps the UN to clarify and improve its force generation

At a workshop in New York FOI presented proposals for a handbook on force generation for the UN’s peace support operations.

The UN currently has more than 100,000 soldiers and police personnel from 122 countries engaged in peace support operations around the world. The task of supplying these operations with force contributions of the right size and the right quality from the various member countries, and deploying them in the field, is a complex one. FOI was therefore tasked by the UN Secretariat to support the production of a handbook on force generation and deployment for the UN’s peace support operations. The reason why the UN Secretariat turned to FOI for this support lies in the studies that FOI has carried out in recent years for the Swedish Armed Forces in connection with Swedish participation in UN operations and UN reform work.

At a workshop held in New York at the end of October, Claes Nilsson and Kristina Zetterlund from FOI presented the proposed form of the handbook. The underlying material was gathered in a comprehensive trawl through the various processes and guidelines that already exist for the UN’s peace support activities and from the assessments of a number of operations. In addition, FOI has interviewed a large number of UN personnel, as well as representatives from member countries, about their views on force generation and the need for improvements. The seminar brought together around a hundred military and police advisers from countries contributing to the UN’s peace operations. The aim was to sound out the expectations of member countries regarding this task.

“The workshop went very well,” says Claes Nilsson. The large number of participants is an indication of the urgency of this issue. The UN has for a long time found it difficult to set up new missions in a short timeframe and this has caused substantial problems. There is a danger of losing the trust of the local population while conflicts could worsen during the delay before the UN personnel arrive. The process for force generation and deployment is currently very complex and involves a good many ad hoc elements. Our job has been to create a clear and accessible overview of the process and to incorporate the recent reform initiative in a way that will make it more effective.

FOI’s work is funded by the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. The work is expected to continue until spring 2016 when the handbook will be launched.