The independent resource on global security

4. Multilateral peace missions



I. Introduction

II. The role of the UN in post-conflict peace-building

III. Regional organizations—back to the centre?

IV. Safety of personnel in peace operations

V. Conclusions

VI. Table of multilateral peace missions


Read the full chapter [PDF].


Fourteen multilateral peace missions were launched in 2003—the highest number of new missions initiated in a single year since the end of the cold war. The growing demand for peace operations reflects the trend of a steady decline in the number of major armed conflicts since 1998, but also serves to highlight the fragility of peace processes as demonstrated in Burundi, Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia.


The increasing prevalence of regional organizations and multinational coalitions in multilateral peace missions and the diversity of their engagement were again evident. Regional actors accounted for 11 of the 14 new peace operations established in 2003. The scope of their involvement, particularly their linkages with the UN, ranged from serving as short-term holding mechanisms; operations that follow on from UN operations; participation in a multi-dimensional UN operation; and complementary deployment to operations that receive UN endorsement but are outside of UN command and control. The complex issues of legitimacy, transparency and coordination between the UN and regional organizations pose central and challenging questions to be addressed in 2004 by the UN High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change.


One of the most striking developments in the context of regional organizations was the initiation of out-of-area operations by the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Afghanistan, respectively.


Events in 2003 revitalized the discussion of African regional peacekeeping capabilities. Although the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Communauté Economique et Monétaire d’Afrique Centrale (CEMAC) conducted four new missions, in Burundi, Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia and the Central African Republic—these were relatively small and time-limited operations. They demonstrate that African organizations continue to grapple with resource constraints (both manpower and financial) and suggest that increased political will by African organizations to develop their institutional capacities in crisis management should be matched by international support.


Increasing attacks against UN peacekeepers and humanitarian aid workers in Iraq, Afghanistan, the DRC and elsewhere in 2003 brought the issues of the security of personnel in peace operations and the complex relationship between military intervention forces and humanitarian aid actors to the fore. This has reignited a debate within the humanitarian and development communities on the merits and desirability of close links between them and military and peacekeeping actors.



Dr Renata Dwan (Ireland) is Leader of the SIPRI Project on Armed Conflict and Conflict Management, an amalgamated new programme covering two previous SIPRI projects: Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution; and Armed Conflict and Peace Enforcement. Prior to joining SIPRI in 1999 she was Deputy Director of the EastWest Institute (EWI) European Security Programme at the EWI Budapest Centre. She is a former Fulbright scholar and former visiting fellow at the EU Institute for Security Studies. Between March 2002 and August 2003 she served as Special Adviser to the EU Police Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in the Secretariat of the Council of the European Union. Her areas of study include conflict prevention, peacebuilding, international police operations and EU crisis management. Her most recent publication, as editor, is SIPRI Research Report No. 16, Executive Policing: Enforcing the Law in Peace Operations (2002).


Sharon Wiharta (Indonesia) is a Research Associate on the SIPRI Project on Armed Conflict and Conflict Management. Previously, she worked at the Center for International Affairs at the University of Washington. She has contributed to the SIPRI Yearbook since 2002.

Sharon Wiharta