6 April 2015

The Perils of Peacekeeping in Unstabilized Environments

By Sofia Sebastian 
26 March 2015

MINUSMA operations in Mali confirm that peacekeeping missions are increasingly being conducted in complex and asymmetric environments. For Sofia Sebastian, how the UN addresses the dilemmas posed by such missions will have a big impact on which tools it has available to resolve future global security problems.

In January, Head of UN Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous told the UN Security Council that the situation in northern Mali remains “extremely volatile” in light of the presence of terrorist groups and almost daily attacks on peacekeepers, including the latest rocket assault on a UN base on March 8. Since the initial deployment of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), a peacekeeper has been killed or wounded, on average, every four days, making northern Mali one of the deadliest settings for peacekeepers in recent history. The situation in Mali is illustrative of the complex and asymmetric environments in which peacekeeping missions have been deployed in recent years. How the UN addresses the dilemmas facing today’s peacekeeping missions will be critical in determining the future of peace operations and the tools available for the resolution of today’s most pressing global security challenges.

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