Peacekeeping: A Re-Evaluation
Middle East Researcher
Global Human Rights Defence
First established in 1948, peacekeeping has experienced profound shifts in public opinion. In recent decades negative publicity has called attention to botched operations and failed missions, corruption, and sexual abuse and exploitation. Professor Lise Howard of Georgetown University evaluates UN peace operations in her book Power in Peacekeeping. She notes that sixteen peer-reviewed studies have revealed that peacekeeping helps achieve and fortify peace agreements, abbreviate conflicts, and decrease overall civilian casualties. She further reports that since the 1990s, two-thirds of completed mandates have been successful.
Professor Howard conveys that the influence and success of peacekeeping missions arise from the power of persuasion, financial inducement, and coercion via deterrence, surveillance, and arrest. Complex missions go beyond patrolling ceasefire lines. These methods are vital to facilitating the delivery of humanitarian aid, supporting the resettlement of displaced persons, protecting and promoting human rights, reconstructing State institutions, reorganizing economies, and reforming judicial systems. Notably, Professor Howard suggests that peacekeeping is more effective than counterinsurgency operations, the long-term humanitarian consequences of which have left an indelible imprint on the conscience of humanity.
The United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), the first UN peacekeeping mission, was established in 1948 to maintain peace between Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), both established in the 1970s, likewise maintain peace between Israel, Lebanon and Syria. All three mandates continue to be renewed. Although some critics argue that longstanding peacekeeping operations indicate a lack of success, measuring peacekeeping relative to the counterfactual scenarios of counterinsurgency operations or altogether doing nothing, perhaps indicates that some degree of success has been achieved in peace operations in the Middle East.
Sources and Further Reading
‘Does UN peacekeeping work? Here’s what the data says’ (UN News, 10 December 2022) <https://news.un.org/en/story/2022/12/1131552> accessed 19 December 2022.
Lise Howard, Power in Peacekeeping (Cambridge University Press, 2019).
‘United Nations Disengagement Observer Force’ (UN, 2022) <https://undof.unmissions.org/
mandate> accessed 19 December 2022.
‘United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon’ (UN, 2022) <https://unifil.unmissions.org/
unifil-mandate> accessed 19 December 2022.
‘United Nations Truce Supervision Organization’ (UN, 2022) <https://untso.unmissions.org/
mandate#:~:text=UNTSO%20Military%20Observers%20remain%20in,peacekeeping%20operations%20in%20the%20region.> accessed 19 December 2022.