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CISA seminar on "UN peacekeeping reform from the operational perspective"

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The Cambridge International Studies Association (CISA) welcomes Jonathan Marley (LSE, Irish Defence Forces Military College) and Edward Burke (University of St Andrews, FRIDE ) as our speakers on “UN peacekeeping reform from the operational perspective”.

About the talk: Post-Afghanistan, senior military leaders such as the UK’s Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir Nick Houghton have called for a much greater European commitment to UN operations. In the 1960s European countries made vital contributions to peacekeeping missions in Africa and the Middle East. In the 1990s, the second era of European peacekeeping, countries blamed the UN for a lack of technical proficiency but chose to overlook the political, operational and logistical problems caused by a lack of member-state political direction, coherence and financing. It is now time for a renewed European commitment to UN peacekeeping – carefully planned, resourced, and realistic in its aims. 2015, and the UN review of peacekeeping chaired by H.E. Ramos Horta, should mark the beginning of a third era of European peacekeeping.

Ed Burke and Jonathan Marley have employed Ireland’s recent experiences of UN peacekeeping to examine the current state of play of UN military operations. Ireland’s record on UN peacekeeping is impressive: As of April 2015, 67 per cent of all Irish military personnel have served on UN peacekeeping missions. Since 1955, 86 Irish soldiers have died on UN peacekeeping operations, more than any other European country with the exception of France and the UK. Ireland is one of the few European countries to consistently send contingents to UN peacekeeping missions in Africa. At the end of 2014, 356 members of the Irish Defence Force were deployed on peacekeeping operations, including contingents in the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and the UNDOF in the Golan Heights.

Burke and Marley argue that operational and logistical concerns about UN peacekeeping are not insurmountable if large, capable European countries work together and deploy together, including by unlocking inter-organisational funding constraints that are EU Battlegroups from deploying on UN missions. Instead of simply continuing to lecture agencies such as the DPKO and DFS in New York, Europe needs to get its house in order. Relying upon a wide array of interview with serving military personnel, the authors provide a range of concrete and readily achievable proposals to improve UN command and control, pre-deployment training, standby arrangements, intelligence and logistical supply – recommendations that will meet European concerns and demands for improved UN peacekeeping performance.

This talk is part of the All POLIS Department Seminars and Events series.

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