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.

See also:

Tom Barnett on the next generation of UN peacekeeping

Tom Barnett, writing at his blog, described my article on UN peacekeepers as a tool of public diplomacy at World Politics Review as a “smart piece.” My article, titled “UN Peacekeeping as Public Diplomacy“, explores a third generation of peacekeeping that is appearing selectively. The new driver, one in which states contribute forces to further their own agenda, holds the potential of increasing the quality of UN engagement in some missions while at the same time reducing, or maintaining, the quality of engagement in others.

In his brief discussion of the article, Tom relates his personal and supporting experience with the Chinese with regards to Africa.

I myself have been surprised, whenever I met with Chinese military officers, how many of them have done time on the continent. It is really viewed as a prime operational experience.

I recommend both a read of Tom’s review, which quotes my article, and a review of the article itself at World Politics Review (free trial subscriptions are available). Your comments below, here, Tom’s blog, or at WPR are appreciated.

UN Peacekeeping as Public Diplomacy

Certain countries, China in particular but also potentially Brazil and India, are increasingly leveraging UN peacekeeping as an opportunity to engage local populations to further national interests.  China, for example, has followed through on its word to increase its UN activities to further its image as a responsible power and to create awareness and connections with individuals and countries alike. 

At World Politics Review (subscription required), I have a short article that explores what may be the third transformation of UN peacekeeping.  From its inception as means to keep an agreed upon peace between two warring parties (hence the name), to peacemaking, some countries are using opportunities facilitated by wearing the Blue Helmet to build relations in troubled places that posses valuable resources and, secondarily, markets. 

A subtle evolution of United Nations peacekeeping operations is underway. …

The global movement of people, information, goods, and services creates new opportunities, but also new threats for peacekeepers. With the immediate and persistent availability of information, peacekeepers and their home countries will be increasingly held accountable for their actions, as well as their failure to act — a situation countries were long able to avoid. …

This public diplomacy component of peacekeeping, which connects with the general public and leaders alike, is potentially transformative and empowering for a country’s agenda, as increased contact creates awareness of culture, language, and narratives. This facilitates greater understanding, as well as personal and institutional connections, potentially opening markets and access to resources through the development of formal or informal relationships.

Read the U.N. Peacekeeping as Public Diplomacy in its entirety. A subscription is required, so subscribe or sign up for a trial subscription.

U.N. Peacekeeping as Public Diplomacy

U.N. Peacekeeping as Public Diplomacy by Matt Armstrong, 19 May 2010, in World Politics Review.

A subtle evolution of United Nations peacekeeping operations is underway. If the first of these missions kept an agreed-upon peace, and later missions sought to make peace, several countries now use these operations to advance their foreign and economic policy agendas, and raise their global profile. This shift, selective as it is to date, may potentially raise the standard of conduct in U.N. peacekeeping operations increasingly fraught with charges of criminal behavior, corruption, lack of accountability, and general ineffectiveness. However, there are significant downsides to this approach. …

These same conditions create opportunities to increase the reach and the potential impact of peacekeeping, even in areas where the communications infrastructure is underdeveloped. As the geographic reach of a peacekeeping mission extends further beyond its immediate area of operations, the effects of success, or failure, increasingly shape perceptions of the contributing nation and the mission.

This public diplomacy component of peacekeeping, which connects with the general public and leaders alike, is potentially transformative and empowering for a country’s agenda, as increased contact creates awareness of culture, language, and narratives. This facilitates greater understanding, as well as personal and institutional connections, potentially opening markets and access to resources through the development of formal or informal relationships.

A brief examination of today’s U.N. peacekeepers reveals that three countries are well-positioned to leverage this new facet of peacekeeping, although they are at various stages of this process. The first, China, is demonstrating the power of such an approach as it effectively couples peacekeeping with its national agenda. The second, Brazil, though lacking China’s horizontal and vertical integration of policy and action as well as Beijing’s global aspirations, is using peacekeeping operations as part of its efforts to gain a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council. The third, India, is just entering this path, and still struggles to come to grips with its potential leverage as a major contributor of peacekeeping troops, even as it tries to define its role in regional and global affairs. …

The dynamic nature of credibility makes it an important but volatile asset that organizations and institutions must manage with care. Over the past 60 years, the U.N.’s image, credibility, and ultimately its effectiveness have often been tied to its peacekeeping activities. While that image has been tarnished by peacekeeping scandals involving sex, drugs, and corruption, contributor nations have largely escaped public condemnation. However, as peacekeeping forces face increasing transparency and accountability as a result of the global environment’s expanding interconnectivity — including less-developed regions — the potential for peacekeeping to build up or tear down the “brand” of a country will increase dramatically.

This shift in the purpose of peacekeeping from a contributors perspective is positive, but not without potential pitfalls. While contributing nations can increase their global image, international prestige, and soft power through a smart application of traditional and public diplomacy, such concerns could lead to increased selectivity of missions based on potential payoffs to national interests, at the expense of the collective interest that peacekeeping operations are primarily meant to serve.

Beyond Government Accountability: a challenging look at Peacekeepers

imageMy article in Serviam, the magazine dedicated to “Stability Solutions in a Dangerous World,” is out.  I mentioned it before, but now you can read the whole thing. 

It’s intended to be thought provoking, which it is.  By the way, it was vetted and approved by an international lawyer and a consultant to Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.  There will be more on the subject of the lack of accountability of peacekeepers by others.  In the immediate future, it sounds like you can catch more in the upcoming HBO movie The Greatest Silence (and/or listen to this NPR interview with the filmmaker). 

From Beyond Government Accountability:

…If holding nonstate soldiers accountable is really an issue for many critics, then the admitted lack of accountability of and jurisdiction over contracted nations contributing to U.N. PKOs should be a prime concern. The gap between perceived accountability and real accountability has a broader and deeper impact on the societies in which they operate.

The relationship between peacekeeping forces (PKFs) and the U.N. Security Council mimics the relationship between a private military or security company and the country in question. The Security Council negotiates with U.N. members to contribute to PKOs, most often in the stead of the five permanent Security Council members who actually make the decision to deploy military observers, police, and troops. The General Assembly does not authorize or oversee PKFs, but it is tasked to operate on the behalf of the Security Council.

Forgotten is Article 43 of the U.N. Charter, which calls for maintaining a standing rapid reaction military force to be available to the Security Council. Instead, the U.N. relies on ad hoc partnerships and “conditional commitments” through the U.N. Stand-By Arrangements System. This system falls well short of what was envisioned when it was established six decades ago at the dawn of the Cold War.

Governments providing the peacekeepers hand over accountability to the United Nations, and those that finance the operations have little to no say in how the forces will actually operate. With no standing commitment by member states, each operation requires individual negotiations across the spectrum–from questions regarding chain of command and responsibilities to rules of engagement and the rules on the use of force.

In the post-Cold War environment, downsized Western militaries are less able to participate in PKOs owing to capacity limits as well as domestic politics. To fill the gap, the Security Council increasingly turns to developing nations (formerly known as “Third World”) countries to deploy to regions that have little direct significance to the contributing country. …

Read the whole thing in the March-April 2008 issue of Serviam or download a PDF of the article here (144kb PDF).

Beyond Government Accountability: a challenging look at Peacekeepers

Beyond Government Accountability: a challenging look at Peacekeepers by Matt Armstrong, 8 April 2008, at Serviam Magazine (magazine website no longer available).

The relationship between peacekeeping forces (PKFs) and the U.N. Security Council mimics the relationship between a private military or security company and the country in question. The Security Council negotiates with U.N. members to contribute to PKOs, most often in the stead of the five permanent Security Council members who actually make the decision to deploy military observers, police, and troops. The General Assembly does not authorize or oversee PKFs, but it is tasked to operate on the behalf of the Security Council.

Forgotten is Article 43 of the U.N. Charter, which calls for maintaining a standing rapid reaction military force to be available to the Security Council. Instead, the U.N. relies on ad hoc partnerships and “conditional commitments” through the U.N. Stand-By Arrangements System. This system falls well short of what was envisioned when it was established six decades ago at the dawn of the Cold War.

The Future of U.N. Peacekeeping

Jean-Marie Guéhenno, the U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, will be speaking Thursday, 27 March 2008, at 1:00p as part of CSIS’s Smart Power Speaker Series:

UN peacekeeping is today the flagship enterprise of the United Nations and has become a central element of the international community’s response to complex emergencies. During his eight year tenure as chief of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, Mr. Guéhenno has seen the number of deployed UN troops double to over 100,000 with an annual budget of around $7.5 billion in order to protect vulnerable populations and help local communities transition from a post-conflict to a development environment.

I wonder if some critical truths of U.N. peacekeeping will be discussed, such as those I discuss in a forthcoming article in Serviam due out literally any day now.  A teaser:

…If holding non-state soldiers accountable was really the concern of many, as they claim when discussing mercenaries, then the admitted lack of accountability of and jurisdiction over contracted nations contributing to UN Peacekeeping Operations (PKOs) should be of prime concern if not only for the broader and deeper impact on the societies in which they operate.

The relationship between peacekeeping forces and the UN Security Council (SC) mimics the relationship between a country and its private military company. The UN Security Council (SC) negotiates with its members to contribute to peacekeeping operations, most often in the stead of the permanent SC members who actually make the decision to deploy military observers, police, and troops. The General Assembly does not authorize or oversee peacekeeping forces (PKF) but are the ones tasked to operate on the behalf of the SC. …

I had hoped the new issue would be out by now and that it would spark a question or two for Mssr Guéhenno.  Such is life when trees are killed…

See also:

Who are the UN Peacekeepers?

Additional commentary will follow later.  Raw facts to consider now:

As of Dec… Total  U.N. Peacekeepers

Top 7 Contributing Countries

Top 7’s % of Total
2001 47,108 Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nigeria, India, Jordan, Ghana, Kenya 52.8%
2002 39,652 Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nigeria, India, Ghana, Kenya, Uruguay 52.0%
2003 45,815 Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nigeria, India, Ghana, Nepal, Uruguay 51.7%
2004 64,720 Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Ethiopia, Ghana, Jordan 51.3%
2005 69,838 Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, Jordan, Nepal, Ethiopia, Ghana 55.7%
2006 80,368 Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Jordan, Ghana, Nepal, Uruguay 50.9%
2007 84,309 Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Jordan, Ghana, Nigeria 51.2%

The "total peacekeepers" above includes military, military observers, and police. 

And what about the Security Council, the ones send in (and pay for) the peacekeepers?

As of Dec… Security Council % of Overall China’s share of the Security Council’s Total France’s share of the Security Council’s Total
2001 5.2% 5.3% 19.9%
2002 5.2% 6.0% 16.8%
2003 4.5% 17.2% 15.2%
2004 4.6% 34.8% 20.4%
2005 3.7% 40.9% 22.5%
2006 5.8% 38.5% 43.0%
2007 5.6% 38.5% 41.0%

On China, see this post from 2005, this post from 2006, and/or this post from 2007

I have posted on this before, but for now, I’m "just saying"….

When an international force is only international and not a force

Kings of War highlights a central problem to all international missions in talking about Europe’s endeavor in Afghanistan:

Our European partners are simply not pulling their weight in AFG. The NATO Secretary General has repeatedly asked the European allies to provide more resources and, crucially, to remove national caveats that prevent their forces from entering the fight. Indeed, just four days ago, the ISAF Commander, Gen. Dan McNeil, complained that some NATO member states have not even provided the troops they had promised to deploy in Afghanistan. Moreover, he was damning on the issue of caveats: “When countries say their forces can only operate in certain ways and in a certain geographic space that certainly impinges on my ability to mass forces.” In short, many of our European allies – especially the big cats: France, Germany, and Spain – have yet to step up to the plate and prove themselves.

Yes, they do need to step. But consider this: what happens when rules on the use of force fail to prevent and thus permit a war crime? DUTCHBAT in Srebrenica, or pick a country patrolling an African PKO in say SL, DRC or Rwanda… I understand politics of deployment and even the fear of a German soldier potentially coming face to face with a child solder (and thus Op Artemis is barely more than a war game), but come on. Stop playing politics with the lives of vulnerable people, and by vulnerable I mean populations that are increasingly susceptible to extremist ideology.