This book is a policy guide for UN missions. It analyses the nature of non-permissive UN mission environments and argues that the UN should think afresh about its approach to missions in these settings. By embracing and developing three concepts – robust peacekeeping, political processes, and the protection of civilians – the UN can arrive at a stabilisation doctrine.

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UN peacekeepers today do far more than patrol a ceasefire line. In most cases, there is no frontline, no truce, numerous parties and among them some armed groups seeking to undermine a settlement. In short, the UN is attempting to conduct peacekeeping in places where there is no peace to keep. Unfortunately the UN has failed to adequately develop the instruments to identify armed groups, and then deal with the challenge they pose. This book is a policy guide for UN missions. It analyses the nature of non-permissive UN mission environments and argues that the UN should think afresh about its approach to missions in these settings. By embracing and developing three concepts – robust peacekeeping, political processes, and the protection of civilians – the UN can arrive at a stabilisation doctrine.

'This is a timely, thoughtful and carefully researched contribution to the debate on the use of force in UN operations, which, rightly, stresses the vital importance of ensuring that UN military actions sit within a coherent political strategy. Its detailed discussion of the challenges facing UN forces in the field powerfully reinforces this central conclusion.’ Mats Berdal, Professor in the Department of War Studies at King’s College London

'It is a doctrinal military requirement for commanders properly to “understand” the operational environment of any operation in which they might become involved. It is frequently an obligation honoured in the breach. I wish this excellent book had been written before I deployed to East Timor and Sierra Leone, and indeed Afghanistan. Many hard-learnt lessons would have been obviated in advance and I would have been better able to hit the ground running. I commend it to soldier, international bureaucrat and politician alike.’ 
General The Lord Richards of Herstmonceux, former Chief of the Defence Staff, British Armed Forces

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  • Introduction

    Since the end of the Cold War, a marked shift in the nature of conflict and international politics has been witnessed. Both the proliferation and diversification of armed groups are, in large part, responsible for this shift. In an increasingly connected world, which advantages non-state actors, the centrality and power of the state is weakening. Conflicts continue to be fermented under the conditions of divisive patronage and identity politics, the...
  • Chapter 1: Armed groups in modern warfare

    Non-state armed groups are the main protagonists and antagonists in modern conflict. From the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to Central African Republic (CAR) to Darfur, South Sudan and Mali, armed groups are a fact of conflict. Understanding them, therefore, is key to bringing about peace and security. Yet, frequently, armed groups are overlooked, misunderstood or stigmatised. To provide a working definition, an armed group is a collection of...
  • Chapter 2: Forming a response: UN missions

    In late 1956, Egypt nationalised the Suez Canal Company, provoking a military response by France, the United Kingdom and Israel. The Israelis quickly captured territory on the Sinai Peninsula, while British and French forces undertook airborne operations against Port Said and Alexandria. Despite these swift victories, international pressure began to mount on the three powers. With the United Nations Security Council deadlocked, following UK and French vetoes, the matter of...
  • Chapter 3: Methods, challenges and opportunities for engagement

    Whether it is a light, non-military political mission or a peacekeeping one costing US$1 billion, all UN missions are engaged in a political project. The failures of the past have certainly made policymakers acutely aware of the need for missions to pursue political strategies and have political solutions. Today, ‘there can only be a political solution’ is the catch-all phrase uttered ad nauseam in most UN press briefings and policy...
  • Chapter 4: Role and development of robust peacekeeping

    On 24 November 2006, a businessman in the DRC delivering fuel to the CNDP was shot dead by a group of police who had been manning a checkpoint outside of Sake in North Kivu. Soon after the incident, the CNDP’s emotionally charged leader Laurent Nkunda mobilised his forces and attacked Sake. After taking the town, he turned his attention towards Goma, the provincial capital. In response, MONUC issued an ultimatum...
  • Chapter 5: Prioritising the protection of civilians

    Over the past ten years, many thousands of lives have been lost through conflict. The statistics are sobering. In Darfur, ongoing insecurity has cost approximately 461,520 lives, while in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) cascading humanitarian crises driven by insecurity have resulted in the deaths of some 5.4 million. Statistics alone, however, cannot adequately capture the nature of the barbarity of these conflicts. Stories of widespread mass...
  • Conclusion

    Armed groups are a symptom of conflict, in that they emerge from conditions born of deep-rooted structural problems, such as ethnic dislocation, marginalisation, land issues (including herder–farmer conflicts), economic distortions and historical grievances. As suggested in Chapter One, these problems are the by-products of weak governance and the inability of political-economic systems to effectively mitigate developing conflicts. It is likely that future conflicts will take place in more crowded, connected and...

Peter Nadin is an independent researcher based in Sydney, Australia. He has worked previously at the United Nations University in Tokyo. His research interests include the UN Security Council and UN Peacekeeping Operations. Peter holds a PhD from the University of Western Sydney.

Major General (ret’d) Patrick Cammaert has served with distinction as a senior commander in UN Peacekeeping Operations [in the Congo (MONUC), Ethiopia–Eritrea (UNMEE), Bosnia (UNPROFOR) and Cambodia (UNTAC)], and as military adviser at UN HQ. He is an expert advocate on leadership, conflict-related sexual violence and peace operations. In 2008 he was awarded the Carnegie Wateler Peace Prize.

Professor Vesselin Popovski is Vice Dean of the Law School and Executive Director of the Centre for UN Studies at Jindal Global University, India. From 2004–2014 he worked as Senior Academic Officer at the United Nations University in Tokyo.

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