AP’s new math declares Security Council as top contributor to Peacekeeping

Briefly, in an article on UN peacekeeping titled UN says still trying to get peacekeeping right, the Associated Press’s John Heilprin writes that “U.N. figures show the 10 biggest troop-contributing nations to U.N.-mandated operations are the U.S., Pakistan, Bangladesh, Britain, India, Italy, Germany, France, Nigeria and Nepal.” This is completely false, unless perhaps the author includes the peacekeeping operations before the end of the Cold War, for which I have not analyzed the data. Even then, I doubt the author is correct. The article also fails to properly attribute failures in UN peacekeeping as it glosses over “controversies” while ignoring the underlying systemic problems.

The top 10 “troop-contributing nations” look more like this sample from the end of 2009: Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Nigeria, Egypt, Rwanda, Nepal, Ghana, Uruguay, and Italy. If the consideration is “police-contributing”, then the top 10 states are: Bangladesh, Jordan, Pakistan, Nepal, Nigeria, India, Senegal, Ghana, Philippines, and Zambia. If the top 10 is overall contribution of forces, then this is the list with their contribution for December 2009 in parenthesis: Pakistan (10,764), Bangladesh (10,427), India (8,757), Nigeria (5,807), Egypt (5,155), Nepal (4,311), Jordan (3,798), Rwanda (3,671), Ghana (3,633), and Uruguay (2,513).

The Security Council permanent member contributions in December 2009 was: China (2,136), France (1,610), United Kingdom (282), Russia (365), and US (75).

I wrote about the challenges and mercenary-nature of most of the peacekeeping forces in a 2008 magazine article that also raised the fact Blue Helmets are outside (not just beyond) the law of armed conflict. The UN Security Council’s share of peacekeeping forces have been historically low, especially since the end of the Cold War – the only time that really matters now. More recently, I wrote about an evolution in peacekeeping that may be both promising and reinforcing.

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2 Replies to “AP’s new math declares Security Council as top contributor to Peacekeeping”

  1. Are you sure AP is using “UN mandated operations” and “peace-keeping” as equivalent terms? Without wanting to get into any controversies, various folks contend that e.g. the war in Iraq was “UN mandated”. If, for whatever reason, a definition like this was in play, wouldn’t the top 10 list look a little more like the AP’s?Still your overall point is well made and, for what its worth, I concur.

  2. That is a good point: are “UN mandated operations” and “peacekeeping” are the same. Perhaps the Gulf War (1991) was “UN mandated” but I think the Iraq War (2003) was at best authorized by the UN or some similar passive support. The Korea War would be “UN mandated”. If these other operations are counted, I cannot see how Germany, France, Italy, or even Britain rise to the top 10.Further, it is misleading to include operations prior to 1991 when the nature and purpose of peacekeeping radically shifted with the demise of bipolar politics.
    I believe the UN gave the AP the line hoping to promote the appearance of a participatory Security Council. In other words, the deception is likely UN propaganda intended to mask reality.

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