‘Don't expect UN peacekeepers to stop wars’

Published : 24 May 2024 10:10 PM

The world cannot look to UN peacekeepers as a way of stopping wars, whether in Gaza or other active conflict zones, the department chief told AFP, citing the famous Blue Helmets' inherent limitations.

A mission in the occupied Palestinian territories, for example, is only "very, very, very hypothetical," Under Secretary-General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix said.

The Arab League has called for such a deployment. But Lacroix said all the basic conditions are missing: a ceasefire, an agreement from warring sides to accept UN troops, and authorization from a deeply divided UN Security Council.

UN Security Council members France and Russia are among those also discussing a role for UN peacekeepers in Gaza, once Israel's military operation to destroy the Hamas militant group winds down.

The idea would be to send troops through an existing UN peacekeeping operation for the Middle East, known as UNTSO, which was set up in 1948 and still has a small, unarmed contingent deployed in Lebanon.

This likewise seems highly speculative, not least because UNTSO is not armed.

"Peacekeeping has its limits," Lacroix said. And "imposing peace" is not part

of the UN troops' mandate.

UN peacekeeping missions have faced criticism, particularly in African

deployments, of failing to do enough to protect against armed extremists.

Lacroix said the world body, which will celebrate its annual International

Day of Blue Helmets on May 29, "of course needs to keep adapting."

But turning the UN troops -- trained soldiers who differentiate themselves

from warring forces by wearing the UN's pale blue helmets -- into a war-

fighting body is "not realistic or desirable."

"Imposing peace is... a synonym for waging war. Many states in the Security

Council would be opposed to that," Lacroix said.

- Partnering up -

Sometimes, peace requires "enforcement," he said, but this can be done in

partnership with other groupings that don't require actual UN boots on the


In Haiti, a Kenyan-led force -- authorized by the Security Council but not

deploying under the UN flag -- is due to arrive soon to impose order after

months of gang chaos.