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How peacekeeping policy gets made: Navigating intergovernmental processes at the UN

15 May 2018

Partnerships are critical to effective UN peacekeeping, particularly in New York, where the Security Council, the Secretariat, and member states examine proposed reforms and seek consensus on the direction of peacekeeping. Yet throughout the nearly seventy-year history of UN peacekeeping, relationships among key stakeholders have frequently fractured due to different if not divergent interests. These differences have often been compounded by member states’ limited access to information and differing views on the roles and responsibilities of different UN bodies in taking forward peacekeeping reforms.

This paper examines the intergovernmental processes and partnerships that support and guide the development of UN peacekeeping policy to identify what issues need to be considered to build consensus on the future direction of peacekeeping. These intergovernmental processes are particularly important for UN peacekeeping, as member states need to operationalize Security Council mandates through the provision of financing, personnel, and equipment. Consequently, negotiations in the General Assembly’s Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations (C-34) and Fifth Committee are of critical importance to key stakeholders such as major troop- and policecontributing countries (TCCs/PCCs) and financial contributors.

The stakeholders involved in formulating UN peacekeeping policy have different vested interests and perspectives on what needs to be reformed. Their positions vary depending on the nature of the issue being discussed and whether the proposed change is likely to have operational or financial implications. Financing of peacekeeping operations has frequently been a source of contention among member states and is exacerbated by the modern divide between major financial contributors and TCCs/PCCs. In some cases, such as in the C-34, this can be compounded by the differing views of military, police, and civilian representatives.

Despite the challenges presented by many of the complex and often overlapping intergovernmental processes, each body has unique areas of responsibility and offers different opportunities and formats for stakeholders to reach common ground.

Understanding the comparative advantages of these processes and how they can be most effectively used to build consensus is key to the success of peacekeeping. This paper offers several recommendations for the Secretariat, member states, and other stakeholders to strengthen the value and outcomes of intergovernmental processes, as well as the partnerships that guide the formulation of UN peacekeeping policy.

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