This article is part of the World Economic Forum’s Geostrategy platform
This year it is 70 years since the United Nations Security Council established the first UN peacekeeping operation.
On 29 May 1948 it authorized the deployment of military observers to supervise a cessation of hostilities in the First Arab–Israeli War and to support Count Folke Bernadotte in his role as UN mediator.
This mission became known as the UN Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO). While the tenure of the first UN mediator was tragically cut short—he was assassinated in Jerusalem in September 1948—UNTSO remains in place today.
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) recently released new data on deployments and fatalities in multilateral peace operations when it launched the 2018 edition of the SIPRI Yearbook.
The previous year bore witness to a number of deepening trends for peace operations, including budgetary pressures, shifting geopolitical terrain in the Security Council, and the continued support for large missions mainly focused on managing conflict (with little hope for a political solution in sight) despite renewed focus on the “primacy of the political” in UN peace operations. At the same time, a new Secretary-General brought fresh energy to the UN, calling more attention to prevention and sustaining peace, and ushering in reform processes across the UN system, now including the Action for Peacekeeping initiative. This report adds context to reform processes by documenting a number of other developments in peace operations, including operational, strategic, and financial challenges, debates over the values and practices to which peacekeeping should adhere, and progress – or lack thereof – made toward gender parity and geographical diversity among UN leadership.