UN peacekeeping is seldom at the forefront of foreign policy discourses, yet its success is critical to promoting peace and stability. This is especially apparent in Sub-Saharan Africa, where poor governance, porous borders, and a thriving arms trade have contributed to protracted armed conflicts, often extending beyond the countries in which they originated.
The UN has enjoyed several notable successes, particularly in West Africa. In Does Peacekeeping Work?: Shaping Belligerents’ Choices After Civil War, Virginia Page Fortna, a professor at Columbia University, notes that many civil society activists, government officials, and former militants credit the 1999–2005 UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) for facilitating an end to the eponymous civil war. Robert A. Blair, a professor at Brown University, similarly credits the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) for helping restore Liberians’ trust in the rule of law.
The UN has encountered far greater difficulties operating in Central Africa. In April, hundreds of Congolese activists engaged in weeks-long protests in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) North Kivu Province to demand the departure of UN peacekeepers, insisting they had failed to protect civilians from local armed groups. That same month, thousands of demonstrators gathered in the Central African Republic’s (CAR) capital city of Bangui to protest efforts by the UN peacekeeping mission (MINUSCA) to salvage a peace deal between the national government and opposing armed groups, some of which had scorned a previous peace agreement facilitated by the UN and resumed hostilities with the Central African government.
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Image courtesy of Flickr. Originally published by S&S on Oct. 13, 2021.