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Salon: Great expectations

Note: This post is part of our online salon, UN Peacekeeping: Challenges and Opportunities for the Next Administration, co-hosted with UN Dispatch. David Bosco raises a legitimate concern about "bang for the buck." However, it is very difficult to measure results with any degree of accuracy when mission mandates are increasingly broad and often patently ...

Note: This post is part of our online salon, UN Peacekeeping: Challenges and Opportunities for the Next Administration, co-hosted with UN Dispatch.

David Bosco raises a legitimate concern about "bang for the buck." However, it is very difficult to measure results with any degree of accuracy when mission mandates are increasingly broad and often patently overambitious. I'd like to turn the question around, and ask if mandating authorities (like the UN, EU and AU) are not expecting way too much of peacekeeping -- regardless of the financial costs?

For example, UN Secretariat officials repeatedly warned of the overwhelming obstacles to deployment to Darfur, but their warnings went unheeded by a Security Council that mandated 26,000 uniformed peacekeepers for the mission -- with one of the main mandate elements being implementation of the defunct Darfur Peace Agreement.

Note: This post is part of our online salon, UN Peacekeeping: Challenges and Opportunities for the Next Administration, co-hosted with UN Dispatch.

David Bosco raises a legitimate concern about "bang for the buck." However, it is very difficult to measure results with any degree of accuracy when mission mandates are increasingly broad and often patently overambitious. I’d like to turn the question around, and ask if mandating authorities (like the UN, EU and AU) are not expecting way too much of peacekeeping — regardless of the financial costs?

For example, UN Secretariat officials repeatedly warned of the overwhelming obstacles to deployment to Darfur, but their warnings went unheeded by a Security Council that mandated 26,000 uniformed peacekeepers for the mission — with one of the main mandate elements being implementation of the defunct Darfur Peace Agreement.

The African Union Mission in Somalia managed to deploy only a quarter of its authorized strength of 8,000 due to a combination of logistical constraints, financial shortfalls, and a lack of peace to keep. With only 2,000 AU troops in Somalia and only 9,000 in Darfur, in March 2008 the UN Security Council was seriously debating the notion of deploying 28,000 UN troops to Somalia.

The widening gap between aspirations and the implementation of successful peace operations is very evident. The multi-billion dollar question is: How do we close this gap? By simply saying "enough" and retreating from the peacekeeping enterprise, as happened in the mid 90s after the last big peak in global peace operations and some nasty experiences in the Balkans and Africa? By trying to expand the available means with the likes of the US-sponsored Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI), which aims to train a total of 75,000 peacekeeping troops — mostly Africans — by the year 2010? By commissioning another expert panel, like the one led by Lakhdar Brahimi in 2000 which produced very substantive recommendations on how to get the operational mechanics of UN peace operations right? Or by taking a really hard look at the mandate end and the peacemaking processes that precede the crafting of seemingly impossible mission mandates?

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