Peace operations, whether they are peacekeeping or peace support, are on the increase and the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) points out the number of personnel involved is less.
The think tank’s year book for 2015 points out there were 62 peace operations in place around the world in 2013 – three more than the previous year.
“The number of deployed personnel in all peace operations, including the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, fell by 20% to 162,052. Excluding ISAF the total number of deployed personnel increased further, by 4% to 148,716.
“The closure of ISAF was a defining moment for 2014 and influenced many of the year’s peace operation-related figures,” Dr Jair van der Lijn, Head of SIPRI’s peace operations research team, said.
“As a consequence of ISAF’s drawdown, Africa became an even greater focus of peace operations: it is the continent with the largest number of such operations and hosts more personnel than all the other regions combined.
“Seven new peace operations were launched in 2014 and four of them were in Africa. The three new missions outside Africa were all established in response to the conflict in Ukraine.
This is supported by the deployment of nine UN missions, either peacekeeping or peace support, in Africa. The world body currently has 16 peacekeeping missions operating worldwide.
“Despite all the criticism and pessimism, peace operations are remarkably successful,” Van der Lijn said adding: “The international community increasingly invests in them because, in many conflicts, they remain the best crisis management instrument available”.
South Africa has committed troops to support the UN mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and its Force Intervention Brigade (FIB), the first ever UN force to be tasked with an offensive mandate. South African soldiers and various military support elements are also an integral part of the hybrid AU/UN mission in Sudan.