Global Policy Forum

Regional Organizations and UN Peacekeeping

Key Documents | Articles | Archived Articles | Links

Key Documents

Chapter VIII of the UN Charter - Regional Organizations

Chapter VIII of the UN Charter states that the Security Council should encourage associations or agencies that promote peace at the regional level. The Security Council may make use of such regional organizations to enforce its peacekeeping goals. However, regional organizations may not take any military action without UN authorization except against an agressor state.

Cooperation Between the UN and Regional Organizations/Arrangements in Peacekeeping: Suggested Principles and Mechanisms (March 1999)

A detailed description on the suggested guidelines for cooperation between the UN and regional organizations in peacekeeping operations.


Articles & Analysis


NATO's Role in Nation-Building (August 17, 2005)

"Nation- building, peace-building or stabilization operations, depending on one's preferred terminology, have become the dominant paradigm for the use of armed force in the post-Cold War world," says former US diplomat James Dobbins. Acknowledging that the primary responsibility and most success in peacekeeping lies with the United Nations, Dobbins draws several conclusions emphasizing the positive role NATO and other regional organizations can play in the new era of post-conflict intervention. (New York Jewish Times)

NATO Runs Short of Troops to Expand Afghan Peacekeeping (September 18, 2004)

In October 2003 , the Security Council mandated that NATO expand its peacekeeping presence beyond Kabul into provincial Afghanistan. However, governments have been reluctant to contribute troops to the increasingly unstable countryside, thus hindering the expansion of ISAF. Provincial areas, where 80 percent of the population lives, remain open to the influence of drug lords and Taliban forces, undermining the interim government and raising fears about security for the upcoming elections. (New York Times)

NATO Boss Pleads for Afghan Focus (June 19, 2004)

NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer criticized member nations for failing to deliver resources to foreign missions which they have undertaken, most notably in Afghanistan. He urged NATO members to "devise a formula that both encourages and enables nations to honor their collective decisions and commitments." (BBC)

NATO Enters New Era with Eastward Expansion (March 28, 2004)

While the accession of Eastern bloc countries to NATO symbolizes the removal of the "final brick" from the Berlin Wall and strengthen the military alliance's power, its preoccupation with peacekeeping missions around the world has called its raison d'etre into question, argues David Keohane, a defense expert at the Center for European Reform. (Deutsche Welle)

Under-Pressure US Sounds Out NATO for Help in Hotspots (December 6, 2003)

The debate over Iraq involvement poses the biggest challenge to NATO in its 54-year history, reports Agence France Presse. After taking over the Afghanistan security force, NATO remains noncommittal about possible extended involvement in Iraq.

Reinforcements Unlikely (October 8, 2003)

Despite US wishes, NATO seems unlikely to deploy peacekeepers to Iraq due to its commitments in Afghanistan, Bosnia and other countries. Yet it continues to consider establishing a rapid-deployment force and has planned a "crisis management study session" to explore methods of crisis response. (Rocky Mountain News)

NATO Agrees to Widen Afghan Force (October 6, 2003)

A NATO official confirmed that a German-led "Provincial Reconstruction Team" (PRT) will deploy to a Northern Afghan town, and that NATO agrees "in principal" to expand the ISAF mission outside the capital city Kabul. This move may expedite the nationwide militia disarmament initiative. (Agence France Presse)

NATO to Take Command in Afghanistan (August 11, 2003)

NATO prepares to assume the lead role in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. The Afghan government welcomes the new arrangement, which will provide continuity to a mission that currently changes leadership every six months. (Associated Press)

Expanded NATO Looks for New Role (November 22, 2002)

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization approves seven new members and creates a rapid-reaction force of 20,000 soldiers from all member nations. Experts see this military development as a way for NATO to prove its relevance to the US while adding a new feature to the war on terrorism. (Christian Science Monitor)

Euro-Trashing (May 29, 2002)

Despite disparaging attitudes in Washington and US unilateralism, NATO remains relevant to international security. "Low" defense budgets do not diminish Europe's ability and commitment to finance and engage in military operations in Afghanistan or Kosovo. (The Washington Post)

NATO Offers Peacekeepers Planning Aid (April 11, 2002)

In an attempt to play a larger role in the campaign against terrorism, NATO's secretary general offered to help plan the Turkish-led peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan. (New York Times )

European Union and Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe

In Congo, a Cosmetic EU Operation (June 12, 2006)

This article questions the reasons behind the deployment of additional EU troops in support of MONUC before the elections in the DRC. The authors argue that the mission has more to do with bolstering the credibility of the European Security and Defense Policy than improving the situation on the ground in the DRC, and deplore that it took more than four months for the EU to respond to the UN request. Deploying only 2000 peacekeepers to the capital Kinshasa, rather than to the eastern provinces where anarchy threatens to undermine the poll, offers further evidence of the cosmetic nature of the long promised operation. (International Herald Tribune)

Peacekeeping Forces Power Agenda (December 2, 2004)

EU peacekeeping force, EUFOR, has replaced NATO's SFOR in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The EU has undertaken a "handful of modest military missions" in the past two years, but the mission in Bosnia is the "only real industrial-scale attempt to implement European security and defence policy on the ground." Observers say EUFOR's work in Bosnia represents a test for EU policy aimed at counterbalancing US military weight, including US influence through NATO. (Guardian)

For US to Note, Europe Flexes Muscle in Afghanistan (September 22, 2004)

The EU presence in Afghanistan signals the beginnings of a European defense force distinct from NATO. Eurocorps took over NATO command in Afghanistan for six months beginning in August 2004, and the EU is set to take over peacekeeping in Bosnia-Herzegovina later in the year. The EU also played a broader peacekeeping role in 2003 in Macedonia and the Congo. Keeping in mind the recent reduction of US troops in Europe, some feel that the EU must be ready to act on its own. (New York Times)

Flexing EU Muscles (September 15, 2004)

In this interview, British Defense Secretary Geoffrey Hoon discusses the development of EU battle groups to be used for rapid deployment, primarily at the UN's request. He outlines the necessity of troop contributions from larger EU nations to make the battle groups a viable source of increased military and political power in the international arena. The topic is up for discussion when EU defense ministers meet in September. (Radio Netherlands)

UK to Join Rapid Reaction Force (February 11, 2004)

Britain, France and Germany have agreed on a new initiative for the creation of military battle groups capable of swift and prolonged deployments for conflict resolution and peacekeeping. Although the troops' mission is not confined to "failing states," it is likely that the groups would only be deployed "in limited, regional, crises in which the United States had no direct interest," says the Guardian.

Greek Threat to EU Rapid Reaction Force (April 18, 2002)

To the European Union's displeasure, Greece vetoed a proposed consultation with Turkey over the use of NATO's military equipment for the EU's rapid reaction force. (Guardian)


Uganda Bombings: Who Was Behind Them? (July 12, 2010)

Two explosions in a Kampala rugby club killed dozens as they watched the World Cup championship match.  This author suggests that the attacks were linked to Uganda's support of an African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia.  An Islamist group al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for planning the attacks.  This group has been leading an insurgency against the western-backed government of Somalia, which is supported by an AU peacekeeping mission.  Was the bombing motivated by a desire to end the peacekeeping operation in Somalia? (Guardian)

Report of the African Union-United Nations Panel on Modalities for Support to African Union Peacekeeping Operations (December 31, 2008)

In March 2009, an expert panel presented its report to the Security Council on how to improve AU-UN cooperation on peacekeeping operations in Africa. The panel suggested that the Security Council allocates UN money for AU peacekeeping missions and creates a "multi donor trust fund" of which a portion goes to early warning systems, conflict prevention, conflict resolution and post-conflict reconstruction. (United Nations)

Security Council Resolution 1809 on Regional Peacekeeping Operations (April 16, 2008)

The Security Council adopted Resolution 1809 at a high-level debate regarding the relationship between the United Nations and the African Union (AU). Noting the increased interaction between the AU and UN Security Council in peacekeeping, the resolution recommends that the AU continues to build its peacekeeping capacity, develops an early warning system in Africa to prevent conflict and establishes "a response capacity such as an African Standby Force."

Report of the Secretary General on the Relationship between the UN and Regional Organizations (April 7, 2008)

Ban Ki-moon recommends that the UN Security Council and the African Union (AU) improve their cooperation in matters of peace and security. AU peacekeeping missions have increased in number and autonomy, which has led to an overlap between the two organizations in peacekeeping operations. Ban suggests that the Council clarifies the legal relationship between the UN and regional organizations governing the use of force within international relations.

The UN, the AU and ECOWAS - A Triangle for Peace and Security in West Africa? (November 2008)

The UN encounters difficulties in cooperating with the African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Regional organizations often lack the financial resources to respond to conflicts, but do have a better understanding of regional conflicts than the UN. Therefore, when cooperating, these organizations should clearly outline their roles and agree on certain issues, for example, whether conflict intervention is appropriate without a peace agreement. (Friedrich Ebert Foundation)

The African Union's Evolving Role in Peace Operations: The African Union Mission in Burundi, the African Union Mission in Sudan and the African Union Mission in Somalia (January 1, 2008)

On July 31, 2007, the Security Council issued resolution 1769, authorizing the AU/UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID). In spite of the cooperation between the two organizations, the relationship between the AU and the UN will remain unequal. The UN has more resources and experience than the AU, so the UN will likely dominate and control UNAMID. (Institute for Security Studies)

Blue-Hatting Darfur (September 5, 2007)

The failure of the Peace Agreement among Darfur rebel groups in May 2006 made some international NGO's and IDP's question the capability and authority of the African Union Mission in Sudan to maintain peace in the region, in spite of previous successes. After the agreement fell through, Western countries cut their funding and support to the AU mission, and pushed for the establishment of a hybrid AU-UN force to "salvage" the situation. However, Mahmood Mamdani from Pambazuka argues that a UN mission without political solution will not promote peace in Darfur. On the contrary, he fears that without an existing cease-fire the peacekeeping mission will appear as a "military intervention".

Eager to Quell Its Own Conflicts, African Union Feels Overstretched (August 22, 2007)

Increasingly, countries such as Egypt, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Malawi, and Senegal contribute troops towards peacekeeping in Africa. Some analysts interpret this as a trend towards "African solutions to African problems." But others, like Professor David Monyae, claim that rich countries selectively promote "African solutions" according to self-interest. They send money and equipment, and Africa sends bodies. (Christian Science Monitor)

Don't Blame the AU (June 5, 2007)

The UN Security Council's deliberations over sending peacekeeping forces to Darfur implicitly and unjustly shift blame for continued conflict in Darfur to the African Union. While it is true that the AU is overstretched, weakly mandated and under-funded, this Guardian article reports that AU commitment and flexibility successfully decreased levels of violence, improved Darfur's humanitarian situation and increased confidence that the conflict might be resolved. The writer argues that the condescending UN Security Council attitude towards the AU results in diminished AMIS (African Union Mission in Sudan) morale and thereby jeopardizes future peace in Darfur and potentially Africa.

UN Security Council Wants AU Strengthened (March 29, 2007)

The UN Security Council stresses the importance of a stronger partnership between the UN and the African Union (AU) in the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts in Africa. Hedi Annabi, Assistant Secretary General for Peacekeeping Operations, mentions in particular that the AU, whose member states provide over 75 percent of all UN peacekeepers in Africa and contribute 40 per cent of all troops in peacekeeping missions around the world, is an important source of regional knowledge and expertise. (Africast)

Africa's New Standing Army Primed for Next Year (November 7, 2005)

The African Union hopes to establish the African Standby Force (ASF) by June 2006. Africa's first-ever standing army would support UN peacekeeping missions and intervene militarily to prevent escalating conflicts on the continent. However, the ASF can only materialize with the financial and logistical support from non-African countries, mainly the US and the European Union. This presents a problem, as some believe that donor countries will use their monetary support as leverage for manipulating the ASF to serve their own interests. (Inter Press Service)

A Continent in Crying Need of Peacekeepers (October 15, 2004)

The G-8 countries plan to train 75,000 African peacekeepers to work in the continent and possibly beyond. A recent study shows that peacekeeping offers "the best return on donor investment" compared with sanctions and development assistance. Although an African peacekeeping force is vital to building security in the region, this article by UN peacekeeping chief Jean-Marie Guéhenno cautions against ignoring other forms of intervention and calls for "reforming the security forces, supporting the rule of law and laying the foundations for economic growth" in African nations. (International Herald Tribune)

UN Envoy Urges More African Peacekeepers in Sudan (September 27, 2004)

UN special envoy for Sudan Jan Pronk calls for a large-scale increase in African Union troops in Sudan with a broad mandate including protecting villages, staying in camps overnight, monitoring Sudanese police forces and supervising disarmament. Although militia attacks have lessened, sporadic clashes continue and people are still afraid. No countries outside of the African Union have pledged any troops to Sudan. (New York Times)

Darfur Tests Africa's Ability to Police Itself (August 25, 2004)

The crisis in Darfur gives the African Union (AU) the opportunity to show it can play a significant peacekeeping role in Africa. The AU is in the process of creating a standby force of African peacekeepers capable of moving quickly into conflict zones. The AU has intervened militarily in Africa's conflicts once so far, with a small contingent of peacekeepers in Burundi. (Chicago Tribune)

African Union to Send Troops to Darfur (July 5, 2004)

The African Union will send troops to Darfur to protect unarmed peace observers and monitor refugee camps and border regions between Sudan and Chad. Some analysts and diplomats view the mission as a "litmus test" in determining whether the African Union can fulfill its "self-imposed mandate to resolve conflicts in Africa." (Reuters)

An African Army, for Africans? (July 2, 2004)

The Peace and Security Council, the newest branch of the African Union, plans to create a standby force for responding efficiently to crises on the continent. But financial constraints could undermine the effectiveness of such a force, since most AU countries are not capable of contributing sufficient funds to the peacekeeping army. (Inter Press Service)

Pan-African Grouping Launches Its Own Security Council (May 25, 2004)

Modeling on the UN Security Council, the African Union has established a new Peace and Security Council, which will assume the responsibility of maintaining stability in Africa, such as intervening in conflicts and preventing crimes against humanity from taking place. (Agence France Presse)

Still Long Way to Go to End Africa's Internal Conflicts (May 17, 2004)

Recent conflicts in Africa, including Sudan and Northern Uganda, have raised concern over the effectiveness of the African Union's conflict-resolution initiatives and the adequacy of attention by regional powers to low-profile, intra-state violence. (Business Day)

African Leaders Sign Common Security Plan (February 28, 2004)

African leaders have signed a groundbreaking defense and security agreement that enables the African Union (AU) to send forces on short notice to intervene in wars and conflicts across the continent. The head of the Rwandan delegation, however, maintained that "there has to be will" on the part of the nations involved to help the countries in conflict, if the agreement is to have any significance. (Associated Press)

African Summit to Adopt Security, Defense Policy (February 6, 2004)

The African Union (AU) is holding a landmark summit on the adoption of a common security and defense policy. With security still being the greatest impediment to the continent's economic development, such a policy will strengthen Africa's capacity for peacekeeping and possibly revive its economy in the future. (Reuters)

South African Leader Sees Progress in Burundi (December 5, 2003)

South Africa's deputy president informed the Security Council about the progress of the regional African mission that maintains peace in Burundi. The Council has not yet decided if a UN peacekeeping mission will supplant the 2,650-strong African mission force. (Associated Press)

African Ministers Agree on Robust Peacekeeping Force (July 1, 2002)

Foreign Ministers of states, members of the Organization for African Unity, agreed that the new African Union should support a multinational stand-by peacekeeping force. A new body, called the Peace and Security Council, will regulate the intervention in member-states' internal affairs in cases of genocide and crimes against humanity. (Agence France Presse)

Peace And Security Dimensions Of the African Union (March 1, 2002)

The UN Economic Commission For Africa explores ways of developing a common "security community" in Africa. Linking security at the regional and the national level and utilizing the existing framework of regional and sub-regional organizations is key.


Arab League Credibility Depends on Resolving Darfur Crisis (May 25, 2004)

This Daily Star article argues that a reform of the Arab League will be nothing more than rhetoric if the League fails to "demonstrate an ability to play a meaningful role…in Arab world politics." The League should show concern for regional problems and assume responsibility for tackling regional crises, including the latest conflict in Darfur.

UN Welcomes ASEAN Peacekeeping Force, Promises Help (February 27, 2004)

The United Nations welcomed Indonesia's proposal to create an ASEAN peacekeeping force. The Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs reasoned that such a regional force was essential because "most conflicts in the world today are not between states but within states, and internal strife has a way of spilling over from the embattled country to the rest of the region." (Jakarta Post)

Peacemaking too Important to Be Left to the US (February 23, 2002)

The trend of US amassing unparalleled military power is creating a world where "the US fights, the UN feeds and the EU funds." However, European officials are wary of giving the US a "carte blanch" for its military operations. (Irish Times )


Regional Organization Links

Africa | Europe
  • Africa


    Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) - ECOWAS has been actively involved in bringing peace to Sierra Leone.

    African Union (AU) - states that are members of the AU can request intervention from the Union in order to restore peace and security. The AU can also intervene if war crimes, genocide, or crimes against humanity are taking place on a member's territory.

    Organization of African Unity (OAU) - This link is to a site that gives a historical background of the OAU. The creation of the African Union brought the end of the OAU whose doctrine of non-interference in the affairs of member states hamstrung its efforts to end the multiple conflicts in Africa. The official OAU website has closed down.



    NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization)
    NATO has been involved in a number of UN military operations, both officially and unofficially. This site posts information about the alliance and its activities. Worth watching for past and future peacekeeping.

    NATO and UN Peacekeeping
    Chapters 5 and 6 of NATO's Logistic Handbook outline NATO's role in Peace Support Operations (PSOs) and the Partnership for Peace (PfP) program.

    EU (European Union)

    EU Crisis Response Capabilities: An Update
    The report examines the European security and defense policies in the post-September 11 world. It considers EU involvement in peacekeeping operations in Afghanistan, Bosnia, and Macedonia, as well as in the Middle East conflict.(International Crisis Group)

    Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP)
    A comprehensive overview of the European Union's CFSP responding to increasing demands.

    OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe)
    The official web site of the OSCE with information on the organization's structure and activities.

    OSCE Missions and Field Activities
    Includes detailed information on OSCE's missions, monitorings, and assistance projects that are active in Kosovo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Caucasus, Central Asia and other regions.

    Western European Union

    EuroCorps: A Force for Europe and the Atlantic Alliance
    The official website of Eurocorps. The Eurocorps is a multi-natinal army corps that does not belong to the integrated military structure of NATO. It comprises of military contributions from its five member states in the Western European Union (WEU): Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg and Spain.


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