SIPRI: Multilateral peace operations in 2022

According to data collected by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the number of multilateral peace operations conducted in 2022 reached 64. They were held in 38 countries/territories around the world. This was more operations than were conducted in any year during the past decade. 

As in previous years, the UN led the largest number of multilateral peace operations, at 20. The geography of operations covered various regions, including Sub-Saharan Africa (24 operations), Europe (18 operations). Middle East and North Africa (14 operations), Asia (5 operations), Latin and North America (3 operations). New operations were launched in Kazakhstan, Somalia, Guinea-Bissau, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ethiopia, , which together deployed roughly 26 000 personnel.

The number of international personnel deployed to multilateral peace operations around the world increased by 2.79 per cent during 2022, reaching 114 984 by December 2022. The biggest year-on-year changes in personnel numbers were an increase of 3771 (4.2 per cent) in sub-Saharan Africa and a decrease of 541 (–6.7 per cent) in Europe.

The authors also investigated trends in the international arena that have an impact on peacekeeping operations. It is noted that the geopolitical confrontation has the greatest effect. In particular, the problem is confrontation between Russia and Western countries. According to the authors, despite the fact that all mandates for peacekeeping operations within the framework of the UN have been extended, the dynamics of decision-making within the UN Security Council has significantly decreased after the start of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict and the subsequent aggravation of relations between Russia and Western countries. This also has an impact on some regional organizations.

Another trend in 2022 was the deterioration of relations between international organizations and countries where operations take place. There is a growing considerations among the population of the countries about the ineffectiveness of UN peacekeeping operations, which in some cases leads to protests. Thus, the deterioration in relations resulted in the Congolese government expelling MONUSCO's spokesperson and discussing how to speed up the operation’s withdrawal. In Mali, MINUSMA’s spokesperson was expelled for publishing what the government called ‘false information’. Moreover, although the operation’s mandate was renewed for a further year, the Malian government opposed MINUSMA’s freedom of movement to investigate alleged human rights abuses—a core part of its mandate.

According to the authors, the regionalization of conflicts is also becoming a trend – all new operations launched in 2022 were deployed by regional organizations, but it is important that These regional responses have a stronger focus on military action than on other aspects of peace operations, such as strengthening institutions and protection and promotion of human rights, which is typical for UN–led missions.

All of these factors raise concerns about the future of peacekeeping operations, making their prospects uncertain. First of all, this is due to questions about their effectiveness - the point of view has become popular, implying that peacekeeping operations do not properly cope with protracted crises and related conflicts. And conflicts between host governments, awaiting results and organizations exacerbate the situation. Experts believe that in the near future, discontent with peacekeeping missions will persist in certain regions, in particular in Sub-Saharan Africa. This, according to the institute's analysts, may have a significant impact on the form and nature of peacekeeping operations in the future. Thus, their humanitarian aspects, such as ensuring and monitoring the implementation of human rights, democratization and assistance in the formation of institutions, can be sacrificed for the sake of increasing efficiency in the short term, and in this case operations risk becoming more of a power tool.

The authors also believe that the development of the situation will largely depend on the global geopolitical context. The current situation polarizes participants in international processes and seriously complicates the achievement of consensus – a key condition for decision-making in a variety of international organizations. As an example, the closure of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine after the outbreak of the conflict is given. The mission, according to the authors, was completed not because of the outbreak of hostilities, but because of the lack of consensus on its extension. The authors point out that such a precedent could jeopardize future OSCE field operations. The same problem is typical for other international organizations, including the UN. Detente in the international arena could remedy the situation, but if the tension continues to increase, changes may also affect the procedures of the decision-making process.

Source: SIPRI

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