Winter 2018

The United Nations & Civil Wars

Jean-Marie Guéhenno

UN engagement in recent civil wars has shown that the traditional principles of peacekeeping are ill-suited for these conflicts. Jean-Marie Guéhenno suggests that the UN focus on politics, using its comparative advantage – its independence – to win the confidence of the parties, while preserving its access to big powers to put pressure on them. However, the UN is challenged by growing divisions in the Security Council, the changing nature of conflict, and a crisis of states. Guéhenno suggests that the UN should not abandon its role in ending civil wars, but should recalibrate its ambitions and adapt its approach: be less state-centric and more inclusive; more robust militarily; and more disciplined in its priorities.

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