SS2 June 2021


Artur SOSIN 

“Alexandru cel Bun” Armed Forces Military Academy of  Chișinău


Abstract: Nowadays, we are living in a world full of uncertainty and complexity. The post-Cold War era has brought a new type of conflicts that have challenged the security environment. The world continues to encounter global challenges that have a direct impact on people’s lives. These types of conflicts have become more complex and interconnected. The United Nations has undergone many phases of reform in order to support and protect millions of innocent people around the world. 

Over the years, the role of the UN has extended from traditional peacekeeping operations to humanitarian assistance and security sector reform. The fourth generation missions need a comprehensive approach and new types of peacekeeping capabilities that can support the increasing number of peacekeeping missions on a global scale. This transformation process can be accomplished only by working together and enhancing international cooperation among member states, international actors and regional organizations.

Keywords: United Nations; Peacekeeping Operations; Security; Reform; Armed Conflicts.
Contact details of the authors:  


Institutional affiliation of the authors:  

“Alexandru cel Bun” Armed Forces Military Academy of Chișinău

Institutions address: 23 Haltei Street, Chisinău.


In today’s rapidly changing world, global security is threatened by the increasing number of violent conflicts and powerful extremists groups. The global governance has a direct impact on the current international system, growing dependency on international security. In addition to that, technological advances and the impact of globalization go beyond the capacities of an individual state to deal with such a sophisticated environment. Many advocate that the role of international communities in the current international system emphasize that relations between states are categorized as interdependent.

The post-Cold War era is characterized as one of the most important times which put an end to the old millennium and get started a new one, which brought with it, new more sophisticated threats and risks. These huge transformations have arranged a new world order between states and their implications to solve these new types of conflicts. It was hoped that with the removal of the superpower competition, the UN would be able to ensure international peace and security in a more secure and save environment. However, the reality shows that the number and the complexity of the conflicts around the world is increasing day by day, and the UN faces big challenges in dealing with such peacekeeping operations of a complex character.

The impact of globalization on peace operations

The eVol.ution of the current international system has a direct impact not only on the peacekeeping mission’s eVol.ution, in terms of conceptual aspects, but also on the operational ones, transforming the current peacekeeping operations in more complex and multidimensional missions.

The twenty-first century is characterized by the eVol.ution of the peacekeeping operations from classic format to complex one, which has gone beyond the standards of the peacekeeping mission. At the beginning, the United Nations[278] passed a difficult period with lots of bipolar competitions between two military blocks, which were defined by their nuclear power. These competitions proved that international peace and security is more and more difficult to maintain. In this international system, where local conflicts have doubled their numbers, the UN forces are facing difficulties in accomplish their missions, and peacekeeping forces are deployed in areas around the world where conditions are unsecure and danger.

To face these new types of missions it requires strategic reforms within UN organizations. These reforms need to be focused on a comprehensive analysis of the current security environment, as well as the capabilities of the peacekeeping operations. Furthermore, the peacekeeping forces have to be flexible to maintain the cooperation with local authorities, which are inVol.ved in a conflict, regional organizations, as well as local population, in order to have all the tools and mechanisms necessary to successfully accomplish the mission.

The Security Council is the main structure of the UN with power under the UN Charter and its ultimate goal of organization to maintain international peace and security clearly expressed in the Article 1 of the UN Charter[279]. According to UN Charter, the Security Council has the primary responsibility to act on behalf of the all UN member states. Article 24 of the UN Charter states “In order to ensure prompt and effective action by the United Nations, its Members confer on the Security Council primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, and agree that in carrying out its duties under this responsibility the Security Council acts on their behalf[280].

The lack of agreement or consensus in peacekeeping operations might leave the UN unable to interfere in missions where peace enforcement is needed to be applied. From the legal point of view, the UN has no legitimate responsibility to protect civilians from human right abuses and a clear doctrine on use of force[281]. An example where peacekeeping forces executed multifunctional tasks without a clear implementation of their mandates was found in Somalia and Sierra Leone. These types of missions were executed under Chapter VI, and were named “second generation” peace operations.

In peacekeeping missions such as Sierra Leone and Rwanda, peacekeeping forces were deployed without realistic visions or scenarios in order to establish peace agreements, as essential fundamentals to maintain peace and security. The absence of consent in Somalia, and the inVol.ving the UN troops in the conflict, resulted in losing their claim of impartiality. Taking into account the turbulent political times, most of the currently peace operations in Africa and the future operations are probable to be about peace enforcement rather than traditional peacekeeping[282].

In recent times, a willingness of the UN to delegate authority to independent actors, such as states and regions has been observed. It is a constructive way by the international community to take responsibility and contribute to find collective solutions to conflicts. However, by inVol.ving a regional actor in finding solutions to a conflict, situation can easily get out of control. This is why; it is considered that the UN as an organization and the Security Council are the main actors who have the highest responsibility for maintaining international peace and security around the world. International organizations do not have the capacities and capabilities to take responsibility in peacekeeping operations which are more complex.

In terms of capabilities, for example, regional organizations have less troops and logistic supply in comparison with the UN. In addition, as a result of ethnic diversity, it is necessary to recruit troops who are familiar with religion, culture and tradition for each operation. For instance, in the African continent, the recruitment process is more difficult for the UN, due to the fact that for a long time governments preferred cooperation with the African Union instead of UN.

Nevertheless, the UN has many international actors who can support the organization to maintain international peace. A good example where an international actor was involved in peacekeeping operations is the military operation ARTEMIS. The European Union undertook the peacekeeping in Africa, by sending troops in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in 2003. The objective of the operation was to improve the humanitarian situation and stabilize the security conditions in Bunia[283]. It is not an easy task for an actor to find a solution to conflict of a complex character. In the DRC, a divided country where the population was traumatized by a long period of conflict, and the poverty and infrastructure was at the lower level, or even non-existent, an international engagement with a comprehensive solution was necessary, as the local government was unable to control the situation alone.

When a conflict occurs, all the instruments have to be considered, as well as comprehensive strategies and long-term objectives. Furthermore, progress can be made only by taking into consideration the political will and the security situation on a large scale. The lack of a political will of member states is still an issue facing the UN. One main constraint which plays a significant role in UN peace operations is the financial contributions of member states. As an example, the level of contribution to the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) can be mentioned. As of March 2007, only thirty six of all member states paid their assessed contribution to the mission[284]. Additional efforts would be required to make member states fully pay their contributions.

Apart from the fact that the financial contributions of member states is not in full, another aspect that can negatively affect the work of the peacekeeping operations is deployment element. Deployment has been a concern for contemporary peacekeeping missions, especially those where the level of danger is very high. This creates difficulties to the work of peacekeeping missions. Furthermore, the number of peacekeeping forces is not always sufficient for all vacancies to fill. As a result, activities of the operation may not be possible to be executed in time or even postponed or cancelled.

The UN peacekeeping reforms

Since 1945, the United Nations has conducted many successful peacekeeping operations around the globe. Every single mission has the objective to establish peace and protect civilians. Research has shown that the risk can be reduced significantly with the presence of UN forces, and the level of violence can be diminished[285]. Peacekeeping operations have passed a long way – from classical peacekeeping operation through to multidimensional peacekeeping and have helped and protected millions of people from violence.

The world has significantly changed since the foundation of the UN. The global population has grown, poverty has spread and the between advanced and developing countries has extended. In addition to this, environmental problems and ethnic conflicts have become more frequently. The impact of climate change on global peace and security was on the agenda in the Security Council on 17th of April 2007[286]. It was the first time in history that the UN debated an issue related to the environmental problems. The Stern Review Report on the Economics of Climate Change points out climate change can lead to the economic disruption and can even be compared to the level of the first half of XX century, especially the First and Second World War period[287]. These environmental challenges are a global problem that every country is responsible for. This environmental imperative would affect the security of the entire world, and would have a direct impact on developed and developing countries.

In this regard, many people believed that the UN needs reforms in order to adapt to the new tasks and challenges and to the complex environments where UN troops are deployed. The internal structure of the organization needs revision in order to function efficiently under new conditions. Along with that, the number of the UN member states has immensely increased and the states’ views have continuously changed in line with the ongoing development of world politics. The process of decision making in the UN organs has also changed. The initial member states that signed the UN Charter are no longer capable of supporting all the different interests of member states.

The status of the UN member states it has been for a long time subject to debate. As an example, the permanent five members of the Security Council possess the right to veto. It has been questionable if the list of the five permanent memberships shall remain the same or not. The tension among member states created by the permanent five member states that possess the right to veto has led to a proposal to increase the list of permanent member states in the Security Council.

The multidimensional UN peacekeeping operations.

There are many differences between peacekeeping operations today and peacekeeping operations as it was at the foundation of the organization. The nature of the conflict has eVol.ved substantially with the use of unconventional warfare tactics and hybrid threats. In addition, the eVol.ution of weapons has been developed. On the other side, the vast majority of officers had never been in peacekeeping mission before deployment. Extremists today are well equipped and possess good training which make them more violent and complicate the process of peace negotiations. All this challenges go beyond the fundamental principles of peace operations, and require substantial demands from the Security Council in order to provide mandates which can be help peacekeepers to respond to the risks and threats of the twenty first century.

In the twenty-first century according to the traditional approach, contemporary peace operations are inVol.ved in many more activities rather than those which are related to observer function or to monitor tense situations. This type of peace operations include activities which go beyond their responsibilities according to their mandates, such as performing civil roles including key administration: monitoring the implementation of peace agreements; human rights standards; supervisor of elections; train military and police; assist in activities related to demining. With this diversity of activities, it is difficult for the UN to find solutions in order to reach a consensus in a competitive world. Consent is almost impossible to be obtained in states where the government is not responsive or not willing to take part in the negotiation process. In some cases where peace enforcement is needed, consent by all parts is no longer considered to be obligatory[288].

As member states are constantly changing their views on security, the UN have to consolidate its efforts by increasing the cooperation with international actors and regional organizations. There is no an international organization in the world that could better deal with the today’s challenges than the UN. Its universal role provides the institution with the judicial norms and standards that are define under the security framework. In the same context, the UN possesses an ability to cooperate with non-state actors as well as has the competences to work in a multidimensional environment. There is a need for a pragmatic approach that will facilitate the advanced countries to collaborate with developing countries in a way that can help

Despite all the hard work which has been done by the UN in order to mitigate the risks and threats around the world, the organization is not able to find the roots of the conflict before starts. This is why in many cases the UN intervenes in situations when the conflict has escalated to a level where the peace process is needed to be settled, by using techniques and methods that can be applied to change the form of conflict from one of violence to non-violence. There are many examples where the intervention of international organizations was too late or with delay, such as the genocide in Rwanda, ethnic conflict in Bosnia. However, no one guarantees that the conflict will not escalate again in the future.

The UN has never possessed the power to control all the issues related to security in this globalized world. There are many other international organizations which are active in the same area, such as Group of Seven (G7) that lead range of topics directly related to economic and security, as well as World Trade Organization (WTO) that is responsible for global economy.

Since the UN foundation, the organization has had no substantial reform on peacekeeping dimension; it has resulted in an organization that is no longer capable of achieving its missions. Different states have individual necessities and each conflict has unique requirements. The UN has been restructured several times as a result of an initiative from Member States. Every Secretary-General has taken the office with his own agenda which includes a reform package[289].

The UN’s determination to reform the managerial and structural parts is saluted by Member States. The only way to deliver better results in the field is by reforming the UN’s peace and security agenda. The reform should cover all the areas, including headquarters structures, since have been considered as the main pillars who can deliver guidance and principles to the UN forces on the ground.

Due to the fact that peacekeeping operations have increased in numbers, and the responsibilities of the mission have doubled their functions, the UN cannot respond individually. The new concept of global governance, such as respect for human rights, good governance and democratization are directly linked to the amount of missions which peacekeeping forces are required to fulfill under their mandate. An increase amount of tasks is not proportionally equivalent to resources required in order to achieve the objectives of the missions. These new type of missions require a much wider variety of tasks which peacekeeping forces are asked to undertake.

Nowadays, the UN is facing numerous problems which may affect the functions of the organizations. First and foremost, one of the biggest problems that the organization encounters nowadays is the size of the missions. Despite achieving remarkable results in different regions of the globe, the UN forces face difficult challenges. Secondly, in many peace operations there are not proper political strategies that would find sustainable solutions to conflicts. These long-lasting problems must be considered by Member States in order to come with a comprehensive concept designed for peace and security, specifically for filed missions. There is not a perfect strategy or a concept that can be fully implemented in order to solve the conflicts around the globe. History has shown that the UN Secretariat has not always adaptable to a changing environment.


The security environment is on permanent eVol.ution. The UN is going through a period of transformations and reforms in order to face new threats. These UN reforms are integrated with global challenges in order to mitigate the risks on the global scale. In addition, the core values and principles such as good governance, respect of human rights democratization, are on the reform agenda of the UN organizations. These UN ongoing reforms are based on the results of analyses of the security environment and are focused on prevention and maintain the international peace and security around the globe. In the same regard, this type of reform will allow the UN to successfully optimize its structures and accomplish its mission. As the UN faces big challenges in dealing with such peacekeeping operations of a complex character, we have to take into account that the international system is dynamic and all the effort of the international actors should be concentrated on anticipating the potential risks and threats, based on experienced on the past and lessons learned from peace operations.

In order to respond appropriately to the complex and dynamic international environment, each mission should have a clear mandate, adequate training, and necessary resources before deploying blue helmets in conflict zones. In addition, the UN forces should be familiar with the area and possess cultural and religious backgrounds and gender diversity of the region. The process of peacekeeping reform should be transparent by inVol.ving both structures; the Security Council and the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations. As contemporary challenges call for innovative responses, the abovementioned structures should provide new policies and strategic direction on improving security of peacekeeping and identify practical and effective recommendations in order to reduce the peacekeeping forces fatalities.

Another aspect that should be taken in consideration in peace operations is the requisite financial and logistical support. A mission cannot be successfully accomplished without the necessary peacekeeping capabilities. The financial contribution is essential in peacekeeping and might have a negative impact on the overall goal of the mission. In this context, additional efforts would be required to make member states fully pay their contributions.

Finally, the best way to overcome the security and humanitarian challenges is by enhancing strategic partnership with international actors, regional organizations and member states. The success of a mission it requires collective security and support from the membership.




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5.    Charter of the United Nations

6.    Francisco Mancini, Managing Change at the United Nations: Lessons from Recent Initiatives, International Peace Institute, October 2015

7.    United Nation Security Council Resolution 1484, 2003

8.    UN Document A/61/970, Financing of the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Section III, OP 2

9.    UN Press Release SC/9000, Climate Change

10.           HM Treasury, Stern Review Report on the Economics of Climate Change