In numerous respects, United Nations peacekeeping is now more sophisticated and systematic. Traditional operations served to limit the scope of conflicts in the Cold War. In attempting to address the symptoms and the cause of contemporary armed conflict, complex multidimensional peacekeeping is a far more ambitious and demanding endeavour.
The lessons learned over the past sixty years have contributed to a stronger UN foundation for planning, managing and supporting operations. Peacekeeping best practices were recently institutionalised, with the potential for marked progress now evident, particularly in the recent Capstone Doctrine, as well as in a new system for both knowledge management and dissemination of critical information. The guidelines, principles, concepts and expectations are now clear and readily available. As a result, it will be increasingly difficult to allege that the Organisation continues to respond in an ad hoc manner, leaving participants to re-invent the wheel for each task and operation. The onus for carrying a more equitable share of the burden has shifted to the member states, particularly those in the Northern hemisphere.
Arguably, the evolution of peacekeeping is less driven by any linear progress than by new global developments, crises and improvisation. At best, the reform process, which commenced in 1992, has demonstrated mixed results. Although there may now be greater understanding and awareness of requirements, problematic gaps and persistent challenges remain.
2009 is viewed as a critical year for UN peacekeeping. Confronted by unprecedented demand for new operations with fewer available resources, UN peacekeeping is not only over-stretched, it is in jeopardy of being perceived responsible for shortcomings in operations where it has not been adequately equipped to fulfill assigned tasks.
This section of the Peace Operations Monitor aims to help to clarify a few of the key issues in the evolution of UN peace operations, lessons-learned, peacekeeping best practices, new doctrine, the ongoing reform process, and next steps. National and international politics, as well as global shifts and crises have influenced the progress to date.