The U.N. Peacekeeping Chief’s Greatest Worries

I just went to hear U.S. Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Marie Guéhenno speak at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Guéhenno is credited by many with bringing U.N. peacekeeping operations back to a respectable state after what Guéhenno himself calls the “tragedies of the 90s” — the series of peacekeeping operations, perhaps exemplified by Yugoslavia and Rwanda, where the U.N. got in way over its head either because there was no real peace to keep, because the deployed force was insufficiently robust, because the mission was ill-defined, or for some other reason.

Guéhenno struck me as an impressive and reasonable fellow. It’s clear that he believes U.N. peacekeeping is important, but he also didn’t shy away from a straightforward assessment of the challenges and limitations of U.N. peacekeeping.

When I have more time, I’ll try to cover more of what he said about those challenges, and the lessons-learned from the 90s. For now, however, here’s a list of those U.N. operations which, of the 20 currently in existence, Guéhenno said he worries most about.

There are eight of them and, significantly, four are in the Horn of Africa:

Ethiopia and Eritrea
Democratic Republic of the Congo