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Reform of peacekeeping

In 2000, the UN started a major exercise to analyze its peacekeeping experience, and introduce a series of reforms to strengthen its capacity to manage and sustain field operations.

A UN peacekeeping blue helmet and twp UN jackets.

UN Photo/Marie Frechon

This was brought about by the surge in demand for UN peacekeepers, with the ‘blue helmets’ being increasingly asked to deploy to remote and often volatile environments.  Peacekeeping also faced a varied set of challenges which included:

  • deploying its largest, most expensive and increasingly complex operations;
  • designing and executing transition strategies for operations where stability has been achieved;
  • equipping communities as far as possible with capacity to ensure long-term peace and stability.  

High-level Independent Panel on UN Peace Operations

Former Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon established a High-level Independent Panel on UN Peace Operations on 31 October 2014, to make a comprehensive assessment of the state of UN peace operations today, and the emerging needs of the future. Announcing the decision, the Secretary-General said that “the world is changing and UN peace operations must change with it if they are to remain an indispensable and effective tool in promoting international peace and security.” With the 15-year anniversary of the Brahimi report approaching, the Secretary-General felt that it was necessary to again take stock of evolving expectations of UN peacekeeping and how the Organization can work toward a shared view of the way forward. 

The 16-member Panel was chaired by Mr. Jose Ramos-Horta of Timor-Leste with Ms, Ameerah Haq of Bangladesh as Vice-Chair. It  drew together a wide range of experience and expertise.

The Panel considered a broad range of issues facing peace operations, including the changing nature of conflict, evolving mandates, good offices and peacebuilding challenges, managerial and administrative arrangements, planning, partnerships, human rights and protection of civilians.  The review  encompasses both UN peacekeeping operations as well as special political missions , which are referred to collectively as “UN peace operations.

The Secretary-General received the Panel's report on 16 June  2015. The Secretary will study the recommendations of the report carefully and transmit it to the General Assembly and the Security Council.

Brahimi report

In March 2000, the Secretary-General appointed the Panel on United Nations Peace Operations to assess the shortcomings of the then existing system and to make specific and realistic recommendations for change. The panel was composed of individuals experienced in conflict prevention, peacekeeping and peacebuilding.

The result, known as the “Brahimi ReportPDF Document, after Lakhdar Brahimi, the Chair of the Panel, called for:

  • renewed political commitment on the part of Member States;
  • significant institutional change;
  • increased financial support.

The Panel noted that in order to be effective, UN peacekeeping operations must be properly resourced and equipped, and operate under clear, credible and achievable mandates.

Peacekeeping policy and strategy reform

Following the Brahimi report, UN Member States and the UN Secretariat continued major reform efforts, including through:

New Horizon

The most recent reform documents – The New Partnership Agenda: Charting a New Horizon for UN Peacekeeping PDF Document (2009) and its Progress Reports No.1 PDF Document (2010) and No.2 (2011) PDF Document – assess the major policy and strategy dilemmas facing UN peacekeeping today and in the coming years.

They attempt to reinvigorate the ongoing dialogue with Member States and other partners on how to better adjust UN peacekeeping to meet current and future requirements. Read more about New Horizon.

Restructuring the peacekeeping department

The major structural change as part of peacekeeping reform took place in 2007. To strengthen the UN’s capacity to manage and sustain new peace operations, the Secretary-General restructured [A/61/858] PDF Document the peacekeeping architecture by:

  • Splitting DPKO into two, creating a new, separate Department of Field Support (DFS);
  • Bolstering the support for new activities in DPKO;
  • Augmenting resources in both Departments and in other parts of the Secretariat dealing with peacekeeping.

DFS developed the Global Field Support Strategy [A/64/633] PDF Document in 2010 aimed at transforming “service delivery” to the field and adapting it to the requirements of today’s peacekeeping operations. Once implemented , support to the field will become more predictable, professional and flexible, while ensuring cost efficiencies and transparency.

Rates of reimbursement to troop contributing countries

Historically, the countries who provide troops for peacekeeping missions are reimbursed for their contribution by the UN.  The question of the rates is therefore extremely important for a large number of countries - whether it's through the direct provision of military personnel or through the financial obligations that make deployment of a peacekeeping presence possible. 

In 2011, the General Assembly (GA) decided to tackle this subject in a comprehensive manner. The GA requested the Secretary-General to establish a Senior Advisory Group (SAG) to examine the "rates of reimbursement to troop-contributing countries and related issues" (ref. GA Resolution 65/289 of 30 June 2011).  The SAG's membership, stipulated in the Resolution, includes five eminent persons of relevant experience appointed by the Secretary-General, five representatives from major troop contributors, five representatives from major financial contributors and one member designated from each of the regional groups.  Former UN Deputy Secretary-General and Canadian Deputy Minister of Defence, Louise Fréchette, was appointed as the Chair of this Group. The SAG intends to complete its review by the summer of 2012, and its report will be submitted to the Secretary-General and then passed to the General Assembly.

Conduct and discipline reform

Other reforms have been introduced in the field of conduct and discipline.

The Secretary-General imposed a zero tolerance policy following allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse by UN peacekeepers in host countries.

At the request of the Secretary-General, the then Permanent Representative of Jordan to the UN, Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al-Hussein, produced a sweeping strategy, known as the Zeid Report [A/59/710] PDF Document. It recommended engaging troop and police contributors, other Member States and the wider UN system in a new conduct and disciplining architecture for peacekeeping.

In 2008, an UN-wide strategy for assistance to the victims of sexual exploitation and abuse by UN personnel was adopted by the General Assembly in resolution A/RES/62/214 PDF Document.

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