The future of UN peace operations: Principled adaptation through phases of contraction, moderation, and renewal

Academic article

This article considers the future of UN peace operations through a complexity theory lens. In the short-term peacekeeping will have to adapt to the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and the fall-out of the Trump presidency. In the medium-term peacekeeping will go through a phase of uncertainty and turbulence due to geopolitical power shifts in the global order. In the longer-term peacekeeping will have to adapt to a new multipolar global order characterized by coexistence, and a changing security landscape shaped by, among others, climate change, urbanization, and new technologies. Throughout these contraction, moderation, and adjustment phases, UN peacekeeping is likely to be guided by a principled adaptive approach, that allows it to adapt to the realities of the moment whilst staying true to its core form and identity. As a result, UN peacekeeping is likely to remain one of the most visible symbols of global governance and international cooperation.