Monday, November 17, 2008

Whither Peace Operations?

Since the year 2000, critical trends on peace operations and crisis-response missions by both UN and non-UN organizations have shifted. Given the importance of these changes, the US Institute for Peace hosted the launching of “Peace Operations” written by Don C.F. Daniel, with Patricia Taft, and Sharon Wiharta as presenters as well the Special Report: Whither Peace Operations? The book is a much needed summary of the different trends, important progress, and future prospects of Peace Operations. Crisis-responses have taken an incremental path becoming the essential instrument to quell conflicts around the world.

The panel explained the past, present and future of Peace-Operation efforts by each region. Afterwards, a discussion on the different trends took place, touching upon donor country profiles, troop contributions, UN peacekeeping missions focusing on Africa and complex missions, and the rising trends on the use of non-UN peace operations by regional, bilateral and multilateral organizations. They compared both donor and troop contributors, usually developed and emerging countries versus non-contributors, which is often developing countries with the exception of Pakistan, India and Bangladesh who ranked as some of the top contributors. In terms of UN peacekeeping, the panel explained how the organization has become a general instrument to deal with very hazardous peace operations, or, in plain terms, where nobody wants to go or there is no particular interest to interfere, and finally, the UN’s almost permanent presence in African conflicts. The issue of non-UN missions overshadowing UN peacekeeping was brought up as well, and how these non-UN organizations are increasingly willing to participate in the operations.
The current Eastern Congo conflict was inevitably evoked at the Q&A session after the panel concluded the exposition. Attendees at the launch questioned the future and solutions of this complex situation. The panel was very willing to pin-point the different issues present in the Congo: the limited funding, limited quantity of UN blue helmets, and a lack of diplomatic will and political interference from other nations. A representative of the IRC shared her experience in the North Kivu area of the Congo and gave some insight in the situation. She expressed how the UN blue helmets are very much needed and how their presence is essential and helpful. Date: November 6, 2008
Location: U.S. Institute of Peace
Attended by: Cristina Lopez

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