A comparative study of older one-dimensional UN Peace Operations: Is the Future of UN Peacekeeping its Past?

What can we learn about the future of UN peace operations from the study of its past experiences with observation and monitoring operations


This current report is part of a series of Friedrich-Eber-Stiftung (FES) research on the security in the Eastern Mediter- ranean region and aims to put the UN presence in Cyprus into perspective, to show that the type of UN settings de- ployed in Cyprus is not unique. The UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFI- CYP) belongs to older Cold War peace operations that currently constitute half of the 12 current peacekeeping opera- tions: the operations in Kashmir (UN- MOGIP, April 1948), in Jerusalem (UNT- SO, May 1948) – observations missions that were precursors to the peacekeeping concept of the mid-1950s (see section 2.1) – in Cyprus (UNFICYP, 1964), in the Golan (UNDOF, 1974), and in South Lebanon (UNIFIL, 1978). The mission in Western Sahara (MINURSO) created in 1991 was added to that list as the nature of its mandate and of its conflict environment is similar to those previous missions. Most of these missi- ons are deployed in the wider Eastern Mediterranean/Middle East/North Eastern Africa region (except the one in Kashmir), where major powers of the Security Council are involved.

The current report is looking at the common features of these older missi- ons in the context of a return to cold war “minimalism” within the Security Council, and to explain what this me- ans for future trends in peacekeeping.

These missions belong to a particular period of time, when superpower rival- ry generally limited UN peacekeeping to third party ceasefire monitoring or observation missions in interstate con- flicts. They were limited and focused in their mandate, and this is something that the UN Security Council have been looking at again for a few years (Syria, Colombia, Yemen) since the changing global order has put pressure on the type of large state-building peacekee- ping missions that were popular in the 1990s-2000s (i.e., multidimensional UN peace operations). The aims of this study is also to shed light on this under- research part of peacekeeping studies, as the longevity of those missions has somehow discouraged the research community to study them.