After having been briefed on the global refugee situation, we had the pleasure to hear a comprehensive briefing on peacekeeping by Mr. Frederick Mallya, Coordination officer in the best practices section of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO).
Mr. Mallya was able to give us a broad overview on the different types of peacekeeping while at the same time providing details about his daily work and his experience in the field (he had worked for the peacekeeping operation in Liberia).
In many cases UN peacekeepers act as a buffer between two conflicting parties, but their tasks involve a lot more than this. Since 1945, UN peacekeepers have undertaken 60 field missions and negotiated 172 peace settlements that have ended regional conflicts. All operations are run from the DPKO, which is located in New York.
There are currently 18 DPKO-led missions that involve as much as 90.000 peacekeepers. Most of the current operations take place in Africa, for example in Liberia, Côte d’Ivoire, Burundi and Sudan.
Mr. Mallya told us that as the nature of conflicts has changed over time, so have peacekeeping operations: Traditional peacekeepers faced situations of inter-state conflicts; nowadays national borders play a smaller role while conflicts between ethnic or religious groups are of growing concern.
One of the reasons for this development is surely the end of the cold war. The number of operations has increased by 400% since 1990. But the overall strategy seems to work: the number of crises and wars slightly declines.
With 27% of the overall DPKO budget, the US is the largest provider of financial contributions. Japan and Germany follow with 19% and 9%. However, in terms of troop contributions the picture looks quite different. Bangladesh is the number one contributor, followed by Pakistan and India. Developed states are usually not even listed. When the question about the reason for this imbalance was raised, Mr. Mallya pointed out that the contribution of troops is connected to a financial compensation. That gives a strong incentive to underdeveloped countries to do so. Developed countries prefer to deploy armed forced in emergencies only and for short periods of time.
During the lively discussion that followed his briefing, Mr. Mallya was able to answer many questions and we are thankful to have had this opportunity to learn about an insider’s views.