Why COVID-19 Offers A Chance to Transform UN Peacekeeping

Peacekeepers patrol the premises of a UN civilian protection site in Juba Albert Gonzalez Farran/AFP via Getty Images

Peacekeeping may be entering a period of major change. Over the past four years, there has been a steady decline in the number of peacekeepers deployed worldwide. And two of the largest peacekeeping missions in history are beginning to draw down.

These two developments hint at the fact that UN peacekeeping may appear poised to shrink further. There are a number of factors driving this. They include budgetary pressures and a contested track record. Added to this have been the more recent financial and practical challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yet, COVID-19 has also created conditions that suggest the demand for peace operations may be even greater in the medium-term. This is because the economic, security and social effects of COVID-19 are likely to cause greater instability in conflict-prone countries. This could lead to new internal conflicts at a time when UN member states are consumed with their own internal affairs.

This greater need for peacekeeping efforts offers an opportunity for the UN to explore a real spectrum of peace operations beyond the large multidimensional model. Future missions could be more orientated towards deeper socio-economic drivers of today’s conflicts. Read more…

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