UN Peacekeeping Operations in a Multipolar Era

Academic article
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United Nations  Peace operations
Written by

John Karlsrud

Research Professor, Head of the Research group on peace, conflict and development



How is multipolarity impacting on UN peacekeeping operations? This article sets out to answer this question by examining the ongoing decline in UN peacekeeping operations and the concurrent rise of regional and ad hoc coalitions in an era of increasing geopolitical competition. The article argues that coalitions have significantly less focus on human rights, international humanitarian law, and the protection of civilians. They thus represent a shift away from the liberal values that have marked UN peacekeeping operations, and are coherent with current geopolitical shifts where China is chipping away at human rights at the UN and African states are increasingly voicing a need for more robust operations. The article concludes that the likely outcome of these trends is a continued decline of UN multidimensional peacekeeping, but that coalitions may receive logistical and administrative support from the UN peace operations machinery.