UN peacekeeping continues to face serious problems, some of them self-inflicted, though more often the result of increasingly complex regional and local conflicts. But “give war a chance” is a politically unacceptable alternative. Changing the UN’s overall approach to peacekeeping â combined with institutional reforms at the UN itself â can better enable the UN to fulfill its core mission of promoting peaceful solutions.
Traditional peacekeeping aims to separate warring parties who consent to the intervention. But UN peacekeepers often are sent into countries with little or no peace to keep. Rather than acting as a neutral force, the UN increasingly is a direct combatant or it stands by while the killing continues. The root problem, of course, is a failure of governance.
A recent report by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimated that one-half of the 3.5 million refugee children of primary-school age are not in school. By contrast, 91 percent of the world’s children do attend primary school.
Some argue that the continuing problems with UN peacekeeping operations reflect the broader failures of the United Nations, which they say is beyond repair. Â In reality, UN peacekeeping can be fixed â and thus can help bring peace to Â conflict situations â by reframing its mission as primarily diplomatic rather than military, and as preventive rather than reactive.Â