Europe’s Grudging, but Welcome Return to U.N. Peacekeeping

Europe’s Grudging, but Welcome Return to U.N. Peacekeeping
Peacekeepers serving with the U.N. Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) patrol the town of Pinga, North Kivu Province, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dec. 4, 2013 (U.N. photo by Sylvain Liechti).

There are a lot of smug policy wonks in New York right now. As this year’s high-level General Assembly session kicks off at the United Nations, the media is focused on what the meeting could mean for Syria. It may achieve very little on that front. But analysts who take a longer view of multilateral affairs still see some reasons for optimism elsewhere.

The most obvious is the adoption of the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a sprawling but impressively ambitious list of global targets for 2030. Academics and activists have been celebrating this success all weekend. A special summit on peacekeeping, to be hosted by President Barack Obama on Monday afternoon, will get less attention. But for a small group of security specialists, it is a rather exciting event.

The focus of the summit is raising new forces for the U.N.’s beleaguered blue-helmet operations, which already field over 100,000 troops and police and are short on helicopters, engineers and other specialized assets. Around 50 countries are coming forward with pledges. Most strikingly, roughly 20 of these hail from Europe.

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