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Rethinking UN Peacekeeping Burden-Sharing in a Time of Global Disorder


When United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres diagnosed the world with a bad case of ‘trust deficit disorder’ in 2018, UN peacekeeping seemed to have been somewhat sheltered from an increasingly chaotic world order. In September 2018, more than 150 member states signed a Declaration of Shared Commitments on UN Peacekeeping Operations (A4P). But a year later, however, on the eve of the organization’s 75th anniversary, what remains the most visible conflict management tool at the disposal of the Security Council is seeing fault lines widening. The traditional consensus over peacekeeping is eroding. Burden-sharing between those countries who, respectively, mandate, finance, and provide peacekeepers has become ever more complex in a context of an increasingly divided Council and new financial crises. Peacekeeping visions have grown further apart as some member states push for more militarized stabilization and protection of civilians approaches when others call for a return to the core principles of peacekeeping. The author concludes that despite these fault lines, peacekeeping remains a remarkable enterprise of multilateralism through which trust and solidarity between member states can be reinforced. This at the condition that greater emphasis be put when carrying out necessary reforms on a more just and equitable burden-sharing—among the P5, between the P5 and ten elected members of the Council, and between the Council and Troop Contributing Countries—and on rebuilding consensus and coherence both in New York and in field missions.

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    The need for the UN performance framework was most recently highlighted by the Security Council in its resolution 2436 (2018) paragraph 1 “Reaffirms its support for the development of a comprehensive and integrated performance policy framework that identifies clear standards of performance for evaluating all United Nations civilian and uniformed personnel… and includes comprehensive and objective methodologies based on clear and well-defined benchmarks to ensure accountability for underperformance and incentives and recognition for outstanding performance… including, as appropriate, transparent public reporting, withholding reimbursement, and repatriating or replacing units… or dismissal or non-renewal of contracts for civilian personnel.”.

  2. 2.

    It is to be noted that the term “triangular cooperation” is also sometimes used to refer to the cooperation between the UN Security Council, the UN Secretariat, and TCC/PCCs.

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    In addition to protecting civilians under imminent threat, peacekeeping mandates now often include ensuring the implementation of comprehensive peace agreements; supporting the extension of state authority; monitoring human rights; organizing elections; overseeing security sector reform and disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration; and assisting in laying the foundations for sustainable peace.

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    Mr Shaowen Yang is number two of the UN Police in New York; China generals headed the UN peacekeeping operations in Cyprus (2011) and Western Sahara (first in 2007 and again in 2016), and most significantly maybe, general Chaoying Yang headed the mission in South Sudan UNMISS as acting force commander for a few months from November 2016 after the sacking of Kenyan general following the UN investigation on the mission’s POC failures in the context of the July 2016 violence in Juba.


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Correspondence to Arthur Boutellis.

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Boutellis, A. Rethinking UN Peacekeeping Burden-Sharing in a Time of Global Disorder. Fudan J. Hum. Soc. Sci. 13, 193–209 (2020).

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  • United Nations
  • Peacekeeping
  • Security Council
  • Multilateralism