The Crisis of African Peacekeeping
At the root of the peacekeeping crisis in Africa is a paradox. UN peacekeepers tend to be well-resourced but unwilling to undertake dangerous enforcement missions, whereas African peacekeepers are more willing to do what is needed to maintain peace, but rarely receive the logistical and financial resources they need.
PRETORIA – Last month, Democratic Republic of the Congo President Félix Tshisekedi demanded that the United Nations begin withdrawing its 17,000 peacekeepers from his country by December. In June, Colonel Assimi Goïta’s military regime in Mali made the same demand; the UN will complete the withdrawal of its 12,000 peacekeepers from that country by January. Meanwhile, the African Union is removing its peacekeepers – numbering more than 15,000 – from Somalia, owing to Western governments’ reluctance to continue funding the mission.
These untimely departures will exacerbate instability in Africa’s most volatile regions: the Sahel, the Great Lakes, and the Horn of Africa. For that reason, they highlight the escalating crisis of peacekeeping in Africa.
At the root of this crisis is a paradox. UN peacekeepers – 84% of whom are deployed in Africa – tend to be well-resourced, but they often refuse to undertake dangerous enforcement missions to protect at-risk populations. African peacekeepers, by contrast, are more willing to do what is needed to enforce peace, but rarely receive the logistical and financial resources they need.