Early on the morning of March 9, a 15-car United Nations convoy was making one of its usual runs through South Sudan’s Jonglei. This northeastern state, which covers over 47,300 square miles, has been riven by conflict long before the country’s independence in 2011. Convoys from the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) frequently patrol the area, offering protection to civilians and workers from other humanitarian groups.
Stunned by recent rebel advances in eastern Congo, European and U.S. officials have called for strengthened international efforts in the region. Yet they have stopped short of promising more muscle for the United Nations’ scattered and ill-equipped peacekeeping operation.
The death of Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, a former Marxist rebel who became one of the West’s most trusted African allies, could offer the best opportunity in years to end the country’s longstanding border conflict with Eritrea.
The international community took a new stab at solving the Syrian crisis on Saturday by agreeing to guidelines for the political transition mentioned in Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan’s Six Point Plan. The outcome elicited a host of reactions from those it is supposed to guide, as well as UN actors. Few seem confident that talking will end the bloodshed.
Like everything else in global politics, contemporary UN peacekeeping looks little like what was imagined at the close of the Cold War. Two decades of experimentation, loss and strategic reevaluation have clarified the parameters of “peace operations” and developed a set of policy tools tailored to specific circumstances, roles and objectives in support of global peace and stability.
Today is the 64th anniversary of United Nations peacekeeping. In missions throughout Africa, Asia, and around the world, more than 121,000 blue helmets patrol the streets, help countries rebuild infrastructure, and maintain the rule of law. It’s hard to imagine Liberia without peacekeepers.
Over the weekend, the world welcomed a unanimous vote by the Security Council on resolution 2043, which authorizes the UN observer mission in Syria to expand its strength from 30 to 300. The UN-Arab League Special Envoy for Syria, Kofi Annan, called it a “pivotal moment for the stabilization of the country.”
BUJUMBURA—A decade and a half ago, the world looked on—unwilling and unable to help—as genocide swept through the villages and towns of Burundi and Rwanda. In 1993 in Burundi, as many as 25,000 were massacred—an even which ignited a brutal seven-year war. A year later in Rwanda, 80,000 perished. The international community watched and did little.
On November 10, the Sudanese military bombed arefugee camp in the newly-separated state of Southern Sudan. Just four monthsafter the two countries split, the strikes-which hit the Yida refugee camp thathouses some 20,000 people-were the most visible signs yet of the rising tensionbetween Khartoum and the nascent government in Juba. They aren't the firstindications however; reports of attacks on civilians by the Sudanese army havebeen coming in sinceJune.The violence has been particularly striking in the northern states of Blue Nileand South Kordofan, where the UN High Commission for Refugees says that 28,700 peoplehave been displaced in the last two months.