Blue Helmet Blues: Assessing the Trend Towards 'Subcontracting' UN Peace Operations

Journal article

Griffin, Michèle (1999) Blue Helmet Blues: Assessing the Trend Towards 'Subcontracting' UN Peace Operations, Security Dialogue 30 (1): 43–60.

The role of UN peacekeeping has declined in the past five years, although the need for intervention in all its forms has not. The UN Security Council (UNSC), particularly the Permanent Five, has sanctioned some questionable operations and thereby undermined its own legal and moral primacy in the field. Peacekeeping now involves a wider range of activities, and devolving control over these has become a more frequent mechanism. NATO in former Yugoslavia is a particular example. The move away from global to devolved forms of conflict management - which is conditionally permitted by the UN Charter - seems likely to continue. In this development, the UNSC has played a notably passive and weak role, and measures of responsibility and clearer mandates are needed to make subcontracting work. Greater liaison with regional organizations is required, but this should not be overformalized, as ad hoc coalitions often have advantages of flexibility and political will. Subcontracting is here to stay. The UNSC should convene an open debate on the issue, with the UN retaining a central role in managing international peace and security.

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