Peacekeeping was not mentioned in the Charter as a tool for the United Nations to employ in the control of conflicts. It was developed during the initial years of the UN as a method to contain armed conflicts in areas where warring parties were in need of a neutral party to observe the peace process.
Peacekeeping in the UN Charter
The concept of peacekeeping is based on ad hoc practice, and belongs in the "gray zone" between Chapters VI and VII of the Charter.
- Chapter VI describes the means of pacific settlement of disputes by negotiation, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, resort to regional agencies or arrangements, or other peaceful means
- Chapter VII refers to the Security Council's power to authorize economic, diplomatic, and military sanctions, as well as the use of military force, to resolve disputes.
Peacekeeping and the main bodies
Peacekeeping operations are established by the Security Council, which holds the primary responsibility under the Charter for international peace and security and provides the political mandate for the operations. The General Assembly provides the budget, and the operational control belongs to the Secretary-General and his Secretariat.
There has been a dramatic increase in the number of peacekeeping operations after the Cold War, accompanied by a change in their nature. To ensure sustainability they have come to involve more and more non-military elements.
More on UN and Peacekeeping
- What is peacekeeping? Information from United Nations Peacekeeping about:
- Peace and security
- Peacekeeping and its mandate
- Role of the Security Council
- Role of the Genral Assembly
- Peacekeeping operations
- Repertoire of the Practice of the Security Council. The Repertoire provides an analysis of the actions related to conflict prevention taken by the Council and its subsidiaries.
- Pacific Settlements of Disputes (Chapter VI). The Repertoire covers implicit references and explicit references to Chapter VI and Articles 11, 33-38 and 99 of the Charter in documents of the Security Council, as well as case studies.
- Representatives, Mediators, Coordinators, and Good Offices. A short description, as well as links to the sections covering them in The Repertoire.
- Actions with Respect to Threats to the Peace, Breaches of the Peace, and Acts of Aggression (Chapter VII). Implicit references and explicit references to Chapter VII and Articles 39-51 of the Charter in documents of the Security Council, as well as case studies.
- The Peacekeeping Missions. A list of all well as a couple of advance or observer missions established by the Security Council, with short descriptions and links to the sections covering them in The Repertoire.
Websites and research guides
- Maintain International Peace and Security. An overview of peace and security at the UN website.
- Fred, säkerhet och nedrustning. The website of UNA Sweden with information on Peace, Security and Disarmament, and the responsibility to protect (R2P) (In Swedish).
- For more information on documentation in this topic, see the Dag Hammarskjöld Library's (New York) research guide om Peacekeeping.
- UNRIC Library backgrounder : Peacekeeping.
- UN Pulse #peacekeeping. Dag Hammarskjöld Library's (New York) blog.
Key UN documents
UN documents and publications in catalogues and databases
- United Nations Digital Library offers UN documents and open access publications, UN voting data and speeches, UN maps, Content in 6+ languages. Replaces the traditional online catalogue UNBISnet.
- UN iLibrary UN publications online covering different topics.
- ODS full-text UN documents published from 1993 onward and scanned documents published between 1946 and 1993 in the official languages of the UN.
- Daily list of documents (ODS). Documents published for the day, with full text links, can be found in the United Nations full text database ODS.
- UNBIS Thesaurus a multilingual database of the controlled vocabulary used to describe UN documents.
- Index to proceedings is an annual bibliographic guide to the proceedings and documentation of the major UN organs. The index includes:
- a list of all documents
- a comprehensive subject index
- an index to speeches
- a voting chart of resolutions
- United Nations Documents Index (United Nations Digital Library) References to all documents by subject area are published. A collection of indexes is held by the Dag Hammarskjöld and Law Library, Uppsala, and the Libraries at UN Headquarters in New York and Geneva.