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UN Standing Force



Key Documents | Documents | Articles and Analysis | Links

Key Documents

The Report of the Panel on United Nations Peace Operations (The Brahimi Report) (August 21, 2000)

The Brahimi Report assesses the shortcomings of the present UN peacekeeping system and makes recommendations for peacekeeping reform. The Report recommends that the United Nations enhance its rapid response capabilities by enlarging and strengthening the United Nations Standby Arrangement Systems (UNSAS).

Bridging the Commitment – Capacity Gap: Existing Arrangements and Options for Enhancing UN Rapid Deployment Executive Summary (November 2002)

H. Peter Langille's book is a comprehensive study of the United Nations' present and potential rapid deployment capabilities. Langille suggests ways to bridge the "commitment – capability gap" between the avowed goals of the United Nations and the organization's actual ability to protect civilians and maintain peace. Langille both recommends strengthening existing peacekeeping bodies such as the UN Standby Arrangement System and proposes new mechanisms such as a UN Emergency Service - a "UN 911." (Center for UN Reform Education) Full Text

Developing a Rapid Deployment Capability

The Council for a Livable World provides a history of rapid response systems and discusses the rationale underlying them. The document concludes that the biggest obstacle to rapid and effective response is the lack of political will among powerful member states.


Responding to a Crisis: Standby Arrangements at the UN

The Council for a Livable World explains the history of UN standby arrangements, focussing on member state participation, the construction of a standby resources database, and the system's first successes in Haiti and Angola.


Conflict Prevention: Options for Rapid Deployment and UN Standing Forces (Spring 2000)

An extensive paper retracing the history and evolution, current status, and future of rapid deployment and standby arrangement initiatives. The author makes specific recommendations concerning steps neccessary to enhance the UN's rapid deployment capability.



UN Standby Arrangements System Military Handbook (2003)

This document describes the operation of military aspects of the United Nations Standby Arrangements System (UNSAS).

United Nations Rapid Deployment Act of 2001 H. R. 938 (March 8, 2001)

A bill proposed to the US House of Representatives calls for the establishment of an UN Rapid Deployment Police and Security Force (UNRDPSF) that combines both the UN civilian police and military elements to respond to international crisis. (US House of Representatives)

The McGovern-Porter United Nations Rapid Deployment Police and Security Force Act of 2000 (May 15, 2000)

An US House of Representatives bill proposal (US Congress, H.R. 4453) calls for the establishment of an UN Rapid Deployment Police and Security Force (UNRDF), to be comprised of international volunteers that can undertake peacekeeping tasks and civilian police roles. (US House of Representatives)

The Multi-National Stand-by High Readiness Brigade (SHIRBRIG)

The Norwegian government's comprehensive information packet on SHIRBRIG outlines the mandates and challenges that face the international force. Having participated in the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) since November 2000, SHIRBRIG hopes to answer the increasing demand for UN peacekeeping missions in the future. (Presidency, SHIRBRIG Streering Committee)

Memorandum of Understanding Concerning the Steering Committee for SHIRBRIG (1997-1998)

The MOU, signed by member states, establishes SHIRBRIG and the accompanying multinational planning element (PLANELM). The MOU document enumerates the tasks and responsibilites of both entities. (

Articles and Analysis


UN uses drones in Eastern Congo(December 5, 2013)

The UN has deployed unmanned aerial vehicles to the north-eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo for surveillance in aid of peacekeepers mandated under MONUSCO. The use of drones comes after earlier this year UN soldiers were used for the first time in battle enforcing the UN’s resolutions after the bloodshed in the Congo had carried on. The controversial use of drones by the UN raises eyebrows to where the organization is moving with its mission.

World Publics Favor New Powers for the UN (May 9, 2007)

According to a survey conducted by World Public Opinion, 12 of 14 populations polled believe that the UN should have its own standing peacekeeping force. Large majorities in the poll believed that the Security Council should have the right to authorize military force to prevent nuclear proliferation, genocide and terrorism. The majority of those polled also thought that the UN should regulate the international arms trade and investigate human rights abuses.

United Nations Army Proposed (June 15, 2006)

A coalition of academics, former UN officials and security experts has unveiled a proposal for the creation of a permanent UN peacekeeping force. Such an international rapid reaction force of "up to 15,000 military, police and civilian staff, including medics and conflict transformation experts," could be deployed within 48 hours at the request of the UN Security Council. While the concept goes back to the founding of the UN, the idea has gained momentum after the Rwandan genocide and the increasing reluctance of individual states to send troops to foreign conflicts or to spend more money on peacekeeping operations. (Toronto Star)

Once Again (May 15, 2005)

Proponents for humanitarian intervention are advocating for the creation of a UN Force, ready to intervene in situations like Rwanda and Srebrenica. Although the UN Charter included a UN capacity for military action, the US and others have always opposed the idea. "Even if a multinational force existed, the UN or some other body would have to authorize action," reminds this Washington Post piece, questioning whether "talk of an international humanitarian intervention force may be nothing more than an academic exercise."

UN Plans Rapid Reaction Aid Force (March 18, 2005)

Speaking at the launch of a report by the Norwegian Refugee Council, UN Under Secretary for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland said that the UN will formally propose its plan to set up a 100-member rapid reaction force in May 2005. The unarmed force will help protect civilians fleeing from violent conflict, and relief agencies hope that its very presence on the ground will keep attackers from striking at civilians. (Reuters)

Preventing Genocide: Time For a UN 911 (October 19, 2004)

H. Peter Langille argues that the international community's paralysis in acting on Darfur should spur the UN to develop a standing UN rapid-reaction force. Langille argues that a UN emergency service, or "UN 911" would be more "rapid, reliable, legitimate and credible" than existing options such as the UN's SHIRBRIG or regional organizations such as the African Union. (Globe and Mail)

'Battlegroups' Reflect Changing World (October 15, 2004)

Rapidly deployable UN "battlegroups" represent "third generation peace-enforcement operations," which would circumvent the political maneuvering in the Security Council that delays so-called "classical" peacekeeping missions. Battlegroups would have their own transport, logistics, air and artillery support and, unlike current peacekeeping operations, would not need the consent of all involved parties to operate. (Irish 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)

Put Teeth in 'Never Again' Vow With Fast, Full-Scale UN Response (September 7, 2004)

This opinion piece calls UN responses to atrocities slow and ineffective, and argues for the establishment of a permanent "Emergency Service" standing force. "The UN Emergency Service would, for the first time in history, offer an immediate, comprehensive, internationally legitimate response to crisis." (Christian Science Monitor)

A Force Behind the UN (August 7, 2003)

In a New York Times editorial, Brian Urquhart calls for the creation of a UN rapid reaction force. He argues that the creation of such a force follows logically from the principles that guided UN peacekeeping since its establishment in 1948.

United Nations Should Be Less Reliant on US (November 13, 2002)

This article calls on the United Nations to establish its own army, arguing that such a move could only benefit the organization by reducing its dependence on the United States. (Daily Bruin)

Just What Will it Take to Learn Our Peacekeeping Lesson? (July 12, 2000)

Problem: UN has no troops. Solution: How about establishing a UN standing rapid reaction force (RRF) composed of international volunteers? Yet obstacles remain as most US politicians "scurry for their hide-holes" when they hear of a so-called "UN Army." (Christian Science Monitor)

Armed Troops Sought for UN (June 1, 2000)

Representative Jim McGovern proposed a US congressional bill (H.R. 4453) that called for the establishment of a UN standing international military force. Senator Jesse Helms criticized the proposal, claiming that such a force would infringe on state sovereignty and could draw the US into "dangerous regional wars." (Washington Times)

SHIRBRIG: A Promising Step Towards a United Nations That Can Prevent Deadly Conflict (Spring 2000)

The Multi-National Stand-by High Readiness Brigade, or SHIRBRIG, is a brigade that aims to provide the UN with a high readiness peacekeeping force. This essay examines the longterm advantages and current deficiencies of SHIRBRIG in conjuction with the UN Standby Arrangement System (UNSAS) and the permanent UN rapid deployment mission headquarters (RDMHQ).

81 States Ready To Join UN Peacekeeping System (April 2, 1999)

81 countries have pledged support to the United Nations rapid deployment system, together providing a maximum of 104,000 peacekeeping personnel. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan requested that participating states pledge to provide standby troops with greater speed in order to meeet the system's 60 day response time goal. (Panafrican News Agency)

The UN Should Be Capable of a Rapid Military Response (May 6, 1998)

Letter written by Jeffrey Laurenti published in the Washington Times.

Links and Resources

UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations

The web page of the DPKO contains a section on rapid deployment and the UN Standby Annangement System.

The United Nations Stand-By Arrangement System (UNSAS)

The website of the United Nations Stand-by Arrangement System (UNSAS). UNSAS relies on commitments by member states to make specified resources available for peacekeeping operations within a certain time period. The resources could include military formations and specialized personnel, as well as necessary material and equipment. To ensure availability, committed resources remain on standby in home countries.

Standby High Readiness Brigade (SHIRBRIG) Web Site

Official web site of SHIRBRIG, a multinational brigade that aims to provide the UN with a high readiness peacekeeping force. The comprehensive web site provides information about SHIRBRIG's background, membership, organizational structure, agreements, and training standards.

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