Published 2021
Maintaining UN capacities for conflict prevention in a changing peace and security landscape
By Jake Sherman

The UN of the twenty-first century requires greater flexibility and adaptability; revamped recruitment mechanisms; and new thinking around the sustainability and interoperability of different funding streams and the expertise and capacities they support. The peacekeeping budget and how it is funded has led to a longstanding divide between countries providing the bulk of personnel and those providing the bulk of finances.

Over the past five years, peacekeeping has seen a significant contraction, with multiple missions drawing down operations. This trend appears to indicate a diminished interest in and role for large-scale operations, with international consensus leaning towards smaller, less intrusive, civilian special political missions (SPMs) or more robust, scaled-up responses by the UN’s development and humanitarian arms, as well as regional and sub-regional responses.

As multidimensional UN peacekeeping missions draw down, SPMs and UN country teams find themselves on the frontline. Several existing mechanisms could be expanded to strengthen engagement and fragmentation. Moreover, a new initiative is required to identify emerging capacity needs and staffing and expertise gaps. Only then can it be ensured that the right expertise is being deployed where and when it is needed.