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Fact Sheet



A massive enterprise


A high success rate

Since 1945, UN peacekeepers have undertaken 63 field missions, which, among many other things, enabled people in more than 45 countries to participate in free and fair elections, and helped disarm more than 400,000 ex-combatants in the past decade alone. The UN is an efficient and cost-effective force provider. Its specialists, particularly in integrated missions, possess a wide range of civil and military capabilities needed to stabilize and help develop post-conflict situations.

In 2007, the UN General Assembly authorized a comprehensive programme of internal restructuring, including the reorganization of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the establishment of a separate Department of Field Support. The restructuring also included a major augmentation of resources and the addition of new capacities and integrated structures to match the growing complexity of mandated activities and to ensure unity of command and integration of effort.

In the new structure, DPKO focuses on providing strategic direction, management and guidance to peacekeeping operations, while DFS provides operational support and expertise in the areas of personnel, finance and budget, communications, information technology and logistics. Added to DPKO’s portfolio are a new Rule of Law and Security Reform Office and an enhanced Office of Military Affairs.


UN peacekeeping is cost-effective

UN peace operations that are far less expensive than other forms of international intervention and their costs are shared more equitably among UN Member States. The approved peacekeeping budget for the period from 1 July 2007 to 30 June 2008 is approximately US$6.8 billion. This represents about 0.5% of global military spending (estimated at US$1,232 billion in 2006 ).

When costs to the UN per peacekeeper are compared to the costs of troops deployed by the United States, other developed states, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) or regional organizations, the United Nations is the least expensive option by far. A recent survey by Oxford University economists found that international military intervention under Chapter VII of the UN Charter is the most cost-effective means of preventing a return to war in post-conflict societies.

A study by the US Government Accountability Office estimated that it would cost the United States approximately twice as much as the UN to conduct a peacekeeping operation similar to the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) – $876 million compared to the UN budgeted $428 million for the first 14 months of the mission.


UN peacekeeping makes a difference where it matters most. The security environments into which recent peacekeeping operations have deployed are among the most difficult and least governed of any such situation that the international operations have ever encountered. Peacekeeping missions deploy where others cannot or will not and play a vital role in providing a bridge to stability and eventual long-term peace and development.



UN peacekeeping continues to evolve. In addition to maintaining peace and security, peacekeepers are increasingly charged with assisting in political processes, reforming judicial systems, training law enforcement and police forces, disarming and reintegrating former combatants, and supporting the return of internally displaced persons and refugees.

UN electoral assistance has become an increasingly essential feature in UN peace operations. Recently, UN peace missions have supported elections in eight post-conflict countries – Nepal, Afghanistan, Burundi, Haiti, Iraq, Liberia, the DRC and Timor-Leste – with populations totaling over 120 million people, giving more than 57 million registered voters the chance to exercise their democratic rights.

Holding its personnel accountable to the highest standards of behavior is a major priority for UN peacekeeping. For example, UN peacekeeping has adopted a comprehensive three-pronged strategy (prevention, enforcement and remediation) to address the issue of sexual exploitation and abuse by UN personnel. UN peacekeeping has established conduct and discipline units at Headquarters and in the field, and is working with its troop-contributing countries to ensure effective follow-up and full implementation of the recommendations contained in the March 2005 report of Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al Hussein, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Sexual Exploitation and Abuse.


In 2007 alone, UN peacekeeping operated: 20 military hospitals and over 230 medical clinics; more than 18,000 vehicles and 210 aircraft; 450 satellite earth stations; 40,000 desktop computers and 2,800 servers, with approximately 3.5 million emails and 2.5 million phone calls routed every month (approximately 1 per second) and an average of 200 video conferences held per month. As part of UN peacekeeping, mine clearance operations managed by the UN Mine Action Service are supporting the deployment of peacekeepers and the fulfillment of mandates in Cyprus, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea/Ethiopia, Lebanon, Sudan and Western Sahara.


Mine action teams have so far cleared 50% of the main roads in southern Sudan, allowing peacekeeping and relief convoys to move through the area. The UN Mine Action Centre for Afghanistan has cleared landmines and explosive remnants of war from more than 1 billion square meters of land.

The Mine Action Coordination Centre of South Lebanon, attached to UNIFIL, has already cleared 32.6 million square meters of the 38.7 million square meters of land that had been contaminated by cluster munitions during the conflict in the area in 2006.


Top 20 contributors of uniformed personnel to UN Peacekeeping Operations as of 31 March 2008

Top 20 providers of assessed contributions to the UN Peacekeeping Budget as of 1 January 2008 (PDF)


List of current peacekeeping missions led by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations


  1. James Dobbins et al., “The Beginner’s Guide to Nation-Building”, RAND Corporation, 2007.
  2. William J. Durch et al., “The Brahimi Report and the Future of UN Peace Operations”, The Henry L. Stimson Center, 2003.
  3. Paul Collier and Anke Hoeffler, “The Challenge of Reducing the Global Incidence of Civil War”, Centre for the Study of African Economies, Department of Economics, Oxford University, 26 March 2004.
  4. “Peacekeeping: Cost Comparison of Actual UN and Hypothetical U.S. Operations in Haiti”, United States Government Accountability Office, Report to the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, Committee on International Relations, House of Representatives, GAO-06-331, February 2006, p. 7.
  5. The Challenges Project, “Meeting the Challenges of Peace Operations: Cooperation and Coordination”, Phase II Concluding Report 2003-2006, Elanders Gotab, Stockholm, 2005.
  6. See “Annual Review of Global Peace Operations 2007”, Center on International Cooperation, New York, 2007, pp. 2-12.

Prepared by the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations in cooperation with the United Nations Department of Public Information — DPI/2429/Rev.2 — February 2008