UN peacekeeping missions- Custodian of peace in Africa

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UN peacekeeping

Half of the UN peacekeeping missions are operating in Africa which play a key role in stabilizing Africa through processes which include disarmament, demobilization, reintegration of ex-combatants, and landmine removal but many a times they face daunting challenges from misinformation to the presence of the non state actors on the continent.

UN gives special attention to Africa

UN pays very close attention to the African continent. The UN Peacekeepers have played a key role in stabilizing and pacifying the region. As of the date 40 per cent of the United Nations Security Council matters are related to the African matters. The UN also has a office in African Union (AU) and it has lot of meetings and initiatives with the AU focusing on peace and security of the continent.

Since 1960, there have been more than thirty UN peacekeeping missions across Africa, the most of any region.

Where the UN peacekeeping missions are present

UN peacekeepers are serving in five peace keeping missions in Africa as of today which include Abyei, an area contested by Sudan and South Sudan (UNISFA); the Central African Republic (MINUSCA); the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO); South Sudan (UNMISS); and Western Sahara (MINURSO). Half of the UN peacekeeping missions are operating on the African continent.

In all these five countries UN peacekeepers are doing their best to implement the mandate, civilians are protected, humanitarian assistance is given to those who need it, reforming security situation is undertaken, demobilization, disarmament, and reintegration processes are also organized in a way that lessen the proliferation of small arms and light weapons that are fueling conflict in Africa.

The key areas of the peacekeepers include:

  • disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration of ex-combatants
  • landmine removal
  • restoration of the rule of law
  • protection and promotion of human rights
  • electoral assistance

The operation can be authorized by the Security Council on an affirmative vote of at least nine of its fifteen members. Also there should not be a veto from anyone of the five permanent members (the United States, China, France, Russia, and the United Kingdom). To renew peacekeeping operations the UNSC votes for it when its mandates are set to expire.

Challenges for the UN peacekeeping missions:

The problem of the non state actors and the spiraling violence make the task of peacekeeping very daunting in African continent. The non state actors do not recognize the peacekeeping forces and target the UN missions like they target their adversaries.

There is lot of expectations from the UN Peacekeeping missions but they can only work on the mandate given to them which is at times perplexed by the lack of support from the host nation. At times due to misinformation the vast population fails to understand the usefulness of the peacekeeping forces. Due to this it is very difficult to make a connection between the peacekeepers and the citizens of the country in which they are stationed.

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