Types Of Peace Support Operations And Characteristics International Law Essay


The Norwegian Defence doctrine from 2007, “Forsvarets Fellesoperative doktrine” and the UN Prinsiples and Guidelines from 2008 (Capstone doctrine) devides peace support operations (PSO) into five various types; conflict prevention or preventive diplomacy, peacemaking, peacekeeping, peace-enforcement and peace building. These are the most important tools UN and other international organisations have to reach their coal of international peace and security.

Types of peace support operations and characteristics

The distinction between these categories is often unclear. Conflict prevention or preventive diplomacy is measures with the aim to avoid intra-state or inter-state disputes and conflicts, prevent tension and conflicts from escalating into violent conflict and to limit the ongoing conflict from spreading. This should be based on an early warning, information gathering and also on analysis of the factors driving the conflict. Conflict prevention ranges from diplomatic initiatives, confidence-building measures to the preventive deployment of troops.

Peacemaking includes the range of diplomatic actions aimed at establishing a peaceful settlement once conflict is in progress or has resumed. “Good offices” may be used to facilitate the resolution of the conflict. Peacemakers may also be envoys, governments, groups of states, regional organizations or the United Nations. Peacemaking efforts may also be under-taken by unofficial and non-governmental groups, or by a prominent personality working independently.

Peacekeeping is a technique designed to preserve the peace where fighting has come to an end, and the parties involved have reached an agreement. The UN or other international organisations role will be to assist in implementing agreements achieved by the peacemakers. The primary military model was to observe cease-fires and to separate the forces after inter-state wars. Today peace keeping involves many elements like military, police and civilian organisations working together trying to make the foundations for sustainable peace.

Peace building is generally seen as those activities designed to strengthen the durability of a stable peace by identifying and supporting structures that will prevent a peace settlement in to relapsing in to conflict. The peace settlement is agreed by the parties involved.

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Peacebuilding works by addressing the deep-rooted, structural causes of violent conflict in a comprehensive manner. Peacebuilding measures address core issues that effect the functioning of society and the State, and seek to enhance the capacity of the State to effectively and legitimately carry out its core functions.

Peace enforcement is the only category in PSO defined under chapter VII of the UN Charter as “using military means to restore peace in an area of conflict”. The other categories are under chapter VI in the UN charter. Peace enforcement involves a range of measures, including the use of military force. The aim of these measures is to restore international peace and security in situations where there is a threat to the peace, breach of the peace or act of aggression. These operations may be conducted by regional organizations and agencies under the authorisation of the UN.

Factors decisive for the choice of operation

It is necessary to look into the peace keeping history to fully understand the factors that are decisive for the choice of operations.

The concept of peacekeeping has been an evolving one. Peacekeeping has not been mentioned in the UN Charter. In other words, there is no specific provision for peacekeeping in the United Nations Charter. It is normally described as falling between Chapter VI and VII. Dag Hammarskjöld referred to peacekeeping operations as Chapter 6½ initiatives.

Early peacekeeping in the 1950s focused on preventing open violence and monitoring ceasefire and status quo and demilitarization and policing. One of them being United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF 1) deployed to the Suez crisis after the British and French troops invaded Egypt. This was what constituted traditional or classical peacekeeping, and where the three basic principles of peacekeeping where formed, namely, consent, impartiality and self-defence.

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After the end of the Cold War, new forms of peacekeeping came into operation in response to significant changes and challenges on the ground. The concept of peacekeeping expanded into new terminology in the peace process, and peace support operations were used to describe the new concept. In the 1990`s peacekeeping went beyond traditional peacekeeping and in to what is often called second generation peace keeping. The new conflicts where characterized by the collapse of states, and the conflict became intra-states. The PSO missions in this period where demobilization of troops like armed para-militias and irregulars; promotion of national reconciliation, restoration of effective governments, the organization and monitoring of elections, provisions of a broader support to humanitarian aid missions including protection of “safe areas” and escort of relief convoys.

From the mid 1990`s the peacekeeping missions became multifunctional. These missions where executed after violent intrastate conflicts and consisted of both military and civilian assets in support of implementing the peace agreement.

From late 1990 the missions are said to be multi dimensional, which means that they cover tasks and responsibilities beyond those associated with traditional peacekeeping such as protection of civilian. The UN has increasingly focused on the need to involve regional organizations.

As stated above, peace keeping operations is not mentioned in the UN charter. This, together with the veracity of missions and mandates from traditional peace keeping in the 1950`s to today’s complex multi dimensional operations makes peacekeeping ad-hoc, and it must be seen as a flexible technique where the purpose and mode of operating is depending on the conflict and the nature of the conflict. Today UN missions are in reality a mixture of many of the various types of peace support operations. But some principles distinguish them from each other. First of all, peace enforcement (PE) is the only type of PSO categorized under chapter VII in the UN charter and this give the mandate to “using military means to restore peace in an area of conflict”. This can be given in a conflict where it is necessary to create peace. An example is Desert Storm where the UN gave the mandate to a US led coalition.

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Conflict prevention, peacemaking, peacekeeping and peace building is under chapter VI.

Conflict prevention is used to prevent conflicts to escalating and factors decisive for this operation is that the parties involved are interesting in trying to archive a peaceful settlement.

Peacekeeping is the technique used if there is a peace to preserve and the involving parties give their consent to having a observation force to monitor the cease-fire.

Peacemaking can be used where the state has colapsed and there are several fractions trying to achive power. This peace makers tasks would then be to identify the players and try to make a peaceful solution. This could be achived by diplomatic solutions only or togheter with military assets to assist in law and order and to put pressure to the involving parties.

If peacemaking has succeeded peace building could be used as a tool to rebuild or build the state.


This essay had the aim to describe the various types of peace support operations and try to give a brief information of the factors decisive for the choice of mode of operation.

The conclusion is that today’s UN missions are in reality a mixture of many various types of peace support operations and which tool to use or mode of operation is depending on the nature of the conflict that the international organisations are trying to support.

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