The Role of the UN in Peace-Support Operations



Since the transformation of evolution of modern state system following the treaty of west phalli in 1648, the international system has witnessed so many challenges ranging from conflicts, under-development, authoritarian, bad governance etc. This is due it the anarchy nature of the global system.

Since the creation of the united nation after world war II in t 1945 the organization has been saddled with the responsibility of maintain global peace and security and to prevent the outbreak of another world war.

Peace support operations has been one area the united nations has actually carried out in various states that have witnessed long protracted conflicts which includes Africa, Latin America, middle-east and Europe. It is in this light that this research paper will try to look at the role of the United Nations in peace support operations using the conflict in Mali as its thrust at analysis.


This study will look at secondary method of data analysis In order to understand the nature and dynamics of peace support operations. Sources include books and internet.


In order to look at the subject of discourse, it is important to understand certain concepts which I belief will help me in presenting my analysis.

What is Conflict?

According to the oxford learner’s dictionary, conflict is defined as a situation in which people, groups, countries are involved in a serious disagreement or argument or violent situation or period of fighting between two countries. Conflict can also be seen as a situation in which there are opposing ideas, opinions, feeling or wishes.

Wallensteen, (2002), said “A conflict requires a disputed comp actability; two parties strive to acquire at the same time an available set of scarce resources, which can be either material or in material”.

What is Peace Support Operation?

The purpose and principle of the united nation charter is to restore and maintain peace. Peace support operation is the operation that makes use of diplomatic, civil, and military to bring about peace and stability in the states.

Since the end of the cold war, peace support operation has been utilized by international countries to respond to crisis and promote peace in countries undergoing challenges of war, violence etc.

Overview of the Conflict in Mali

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There have been ongoing uprisings of conflicts in Mali since the early 1960’s till date .the first tuareg conflict started in 1963 but the not last a year because it was crushed by the military forces under the command of captain Diby sillas June 1990 another tuareg rebellion broke out when the leader Ag Ghali of the popular movement of the liberation of azawad (MPLA) attacked a police post with a small group of solders who has just returned from an army camp in Libya. This conflict later was dissolved in a peace treaty of the Algerian brokered and a national pact of 1992. The resent conflict in Mali began on the 16th of January 2012 between the government forces and Tuareg rebels which resulted to the death of more than 200,000 people according to the report by the united nation. These group of rebels where fighting for the independence or greater autonomy for northern Mali in an area known as azawad. The rebels formed a group known as movement for the liberation of azawad (MNLA).The group is aimed at fighting to make azward an independent homeland for the tuareg people and this organization was formed in 2011.

However the African union, U.S.A, E.U failed to recognize their independence, also the Security Council stated the need to uphold and respect the sovergnity unity and regional integrity of Mali and rejected any deceleration of independence in Mali. By late May 2012 the Malian government rejected the north independence also. The rebels lost control over the new state which northern Mali, which led to the takeover of the north by the Islamism militant. This caused ethnic tension in Mali since the north was taken over by the Islamic groups. The people of Mali feared the intent of sharia law in the region and a possibility of establishing terrorist activities.

The Role of UN in Conflict Mediation in the Malian conflict

The United Nations was formed on the 24th of October 1945, soon after the end of the Second World War. It was a successor of the League of Nations. This organization was formed to prevent the outbreak of another war since the League of Nations failed to prevent the Second World War. In 1945, 51 members met at San Francisco and signed the United Nations charter and the UN came into existence. There are currently 192 member of the United Nations, the headquarters which is at New York City USA. The United Nations has 6 recognized languages which are: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russia and Spanish. There are 6 organs in the UN these are; the general assembly, Security Council, economic and social council, secretariat, the international court of justice and the trusteeship council. Under the Security Council we have 15 members which 5 is the permanent (France, USA, UK, china and Soviet Union). The Security Council is responsible for maintaining international peace and security and also determines the existence of a treat of peace or acts of aggression from a state to another. The Security Council doesn’t just act on crisis, it takes time to debate and negotiated on the best possible way to handle a problem. Following the written report of the former secretary general Boutros –Boutros Ghali in 1992 “an agenda for peace”, it is the responsibility of the un security council to recognize the limitation of peace keeping and also the abstainace of war doesn’t ensure peace and security. The UN Security Council should put heads together to give the best solution for the problems at hand in matters to conflict and war. In the case of the Mali crisis the Malian government sent letters to the UN requesting the use of international force. Since the security general doesn’t just carry out orders like that they have to debate and negotiate about it, while they were doing so the French felt compelled to act immediately in other to stop the crisis from escalating and causing increasing damage. Although the French was invited by the government of Mali people still question their use of force, France defended itself saying that they have the right to collective self-defense authorized by the un secretary general in the resolution 2085 (ordered in 20th December 2012).

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Since the United Nations Security Council couldn’t launch military interventions under its own command, it gave the use of force and planning to the ECOWAS, AU and other states.


Even though the United Nations has been able to achieve remarkable success iits is faced with some challenges. The Following are some of the challenges facing the United Nations Missions:


Unlike sovereign- states whose financial capabilities are usually gotten from diverse channel, the United Nations rely solely on contributions from members – state to be able to carry out its duties effectively. Mediating in conflict and peace resolution is an expensive project which requires mobilization of resources in order to facilitate and also ensuring the degree of success in the operation.

2 Absence of a UN –Permanent Army:

Another challenge facing peace-keeping operation and mission is the absence of a UN permanent Armed –forces for carrying such missions. Most times the organization rely on member states to send her own troops to the organization so as to carry out this mission in which the countries do not really want to there army.

3 Geographical and Social –Cultural challenge:-

One of the success of any combatant involved in any peaceful resolution of conflicts is their degree of adaptability to the social –cultural and geographical location of the country it used in. most times the UN troops are taken to regions and areas they have little or no background knowledge on.

4 The Challenge of Clarity of the Mandate:

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Another challenge facing the success of peace keeping operations is the lack of a clear-cut mandate and objective the mission. The absence of a clear-cut objective of the mission is also another challenge facing the United Nations peace keeping missions.


In conclusion, the paper tries to look at the role of the united nation in the Mali conflict and the challenges they face. If the organization can be able to see other streams of getting revenue or funds it will also go a long way in reducing some of the financial mishaps it is facing particularly as it relates to Peace-Keeping operations and other humanitarian aid it offers. The United Nations should try and have Its own permanent stand –by army without relying solely on member states to help them when it want to mediate in any conflict resolution The study was able to look at concepts such as the United Nations, and the Malian conflict.


Conflict prevention: available at; accessed 20/12/2013.

A/RES/47/120. An agenda for peace at; accessed 20/12/2013.

Mali current conflict: accessed 21/12/2013.

United Nations Official Website: accessed 27/12/2013.

International relations and security network;


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(275 words)