Peacekeeping Missions

There have been many peacekeeping missions since 1945. Most of them have been United Nations peacekeeping missions, but not only. Other organizations have formed and led peacekeeping missions. The UN Security Council is the body that decides where and when there should be a peacekeeping mission. However, this does not mean that the United Nations peacekeepers are the ones who fulfill that mission. Often it is peacekeepers from other organizations who take on the missions. Any conflict zone in the world that you hear about will most likely have an active peacekeeping mission. As horrible as war is, we can take some comfort in the fact that peacekeepers come in to put an end to the conflict. This usually takes place with the approval of the belligerents. When the situation becomes too dire, then the support of the belligerents is not always needed. This was the case in Darfur, where the Sudanese government kept trying to keep the UN from intervening but was eventually forced to accept their deployment.

United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO)

MONUSCO replaced the United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) on the 1st of July 2010. The mission consists of three infantry brigades, artillery, and a special forces company. This UN peacekeeping mission has full authorization to neutralize armed groups, thus protecting government and civilian security entities. MONUSCO is a modern peacekeeping mission, similar to the one established by NATO in KFOR, where peace and security must be kept with superior military force and at all costs. This UN mission is one of the largest with 20,039 personnel. Two thousand nine hundred seventy civilians, 1,201 police officers, and 15,098 military staff. It is also one of the more dangerous missions. Most troops are from India and Pakistan, followed by Asian and African countries. With an annual budget of over $1 billion, this makes it a well funded and well-equipped mission. The size of the mission has decreased in size over the years. However, the humanitarian situation remains of great concern, especially in the Great Lakes region.

The United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL)

At the end of the Second Liberian War, the UNMIL mission came to be to monitor the signed cease-fire. The mission officially ended on the 30th of March 2018; however, 1,204 UN troops and 606 police officers remain in case of emergency. During the two Civil Wars, over 250,000 civilians lost their lives, and the government failed. There was no law and order, and over 850,000 refugees fled Liberia. Liberia, the first independent African country, was on her knees. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) deployed a peacekeeping force. This was eventually joined by UNMIL, making it the first time that the UN worked together with another peacekeeping force. UNMIL is one of the peacekeeping missions the United Nations considers a great success. Not a small feat when the situation in Liberia was so bad that there were night curfews, and traveling outside of the capital city of Monrovia was a likely death sentence.

United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP)

United Nations Security Council Resolution 186 founded UNFICYP in 1964 to stop the fighting between Greek and Turkish Cypriots and to attempt to restore normalization to the Island nation of Cyprus. After the Greek military coup that ousted President Archbishop Makarios, the Turkish army invaded Cyprus in an attempt to protect Turkish Cypriots who resided in enclaves all over the island. Turkish forces conquered a third of the island, creating a green line. The UN’s response was to increase the size of its mission to deal with this new reality. Its primary purpose is to maintain and protect the buffer zone between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot sides and to broker peace for a resolution to what is known as the Cyprus Dispute. The situation in Cyprus has significantly improved over the years, and the UN likes to refer to the UNFICYP mission as an excellent example of effective peacekeeping. However, the Cyprus situation is a traditional peacekeeping situation. Two belligerents on each side and a buffer zone between them. Nothing as complex as the Kosovo and African situations. Both sides have an interest in normalization, which has allowed for improvements, such as allowing Greek Cypriots to travel to Northern Cyprus. While the reunification of the island might still be a faraway dream, there are no armed hostilities between both sides, and this has been the case for years. Normalization is definitely within reach.

The African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS)

AMIS was the African Union’s peacekeeping mission in the Darfur Region. It initially only consisted of 150 troops charged with the protection of cease-fire monitors. The mission was severely understaffed and underfunded. It was the AU’s first mission where its peacekeepers found themselves continually under attack. It became so common that humanitarian aid workers refused their protection as their presence would increase the chances of coming under fire. The rebels did not accept AMIS as a neutral party. They claimed that they sided with the Sudanese government, making them a legitimate target. The arrangement for AMIS was that the AU would provide the peacekeepers, and the EU and the United States would provide the funds and logistical support, such as vehicles. However, owing to continued opposition from the Sudanese government, the AU wasn’t able to increase its force to 7,000, and the promised funding and logistics did not materialize. Eventually, AMIS was able to increase its strength to 7,000 troops but found itself still underfunded and under-equipped. At some point, Canada decided to provide much needed armored vehicles. Despite the AU’s efforts, the situation was only deteriorating.

At some point, 1,000 rebels overrun an AMIS base killing multiple peacekeepers. The United Nations threatened the Sudanese government that it would set up a UN mission without their approval as the situation was becoming a threat to international peace and security. The deployment of a force of 20,000 personnel was what the UN was requesting. On the 31st of December 2007, AMIS merged into UNAMID (AFRICAN UNION – UNITED NATIONS HYBRID OPERATION IN DARFUR). Even though UNAMID now has the authorization for the deployment of a force of 19,248, it has deployed 9,263. Two thousand six hundred twenty civilians, 2,222 police officers, and 4,188 military staff. To this day, most staff members are from African countries, with the majority of police officers being from Jordan. The most significant non-African contributor of troops is Pakistan. We can learn from the AMIS mission that the African Union needs a lot more support to establish successful missions. The United Nations is still the number one expert organization in successful peacekeeping.

The Kosovo Force (KFOR)

UN Security Council resolution 1244 sent KFOR to Kosovo on the 11th of June 1999. During that time, the two belligerents were the KLA (Kosovo Liberation Army) and the Yugoslavia Military Forces. There was heavy fighting daily, resulting in a massive humanitarian crisis where over one million refugees fled Kosovo. With over 3,500 military and civilian personnel from 28 countries, KFOR’s mission is to hand over security to the Kosovo Police forces. In the meantime, it maintains a secure environment where freedom of movement is guaranteed regardless of ethnicity. The United States, Lithuania, Austria, Turkey, Slovenia, Hungary, and Poland are the main contributors to KFOR. At its height, the mission consisted of up to 50,000 men and women from 38 countries. In 20 years, more than 200 KFOR peacekeepers have lost their lives. This was the first conflict where peacekeepers dealt with internal strife on such a scale. KFOR had to act in a capacity of using force and not just observing. The mission formed after NATO’s assistance was requested by the United Nations, who had been unsuccessful in its deployment to the region. NATO sees KFOR as one of its great successes.


When a conflict requires the formation of a peacekeeping mission by principle, the member states of that continent deploy. Since most significant conflicts are in Africa, this means that African nations will contribute personnel; however, most of these countries lack funds and equipment. When peacekeeping missions deploy the needed numbers of staff, receive the required funds and equipment, such as Liberia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, excellent results come to be. However, where this is not the case, such as AMIS in Darfur, the mission becomes a lot less productive. The key to the success of a peacekeeping mission is that all member states contribute what they can, whether it be personnel, equipment, or funds. Considering the above mentioned, the recent deployment of Ghanian troops to Cyprus – the European Continent – as part of the UNFICYP mission is significant. Peacekeeping missions are not welcomed by those who want to keep on warring but the civilian population that is suffering at the expense of the belligerents sees in them a hope for a better future where their children will no longer remember the pain and suffering that they have seen.