The United Nations in Mali: A New Approach to Peacekeeping?

Impartiality has been one of the guiding principles of United Nations peacekeeping since the organization’s inception. This principle has been applied from the first deployment of blue helmets between Egyptian and Israeli troops in 1956, after the Suez Crisis. This operation supported the role of the UN as a facilitator of inter-state settlements. As a passive enabler of local political initiatives, the objective of UN peacekeeping operations was to minimize frictions during and following peace negotiations.

Since then, the global shift from interstate conflicts to civil wars has required a conceptual change in how impartiality is conceived, raising questions regarding the concrete meaning of impartiality, how to implement it, and whether it’s a desirable feature of UN peacekeeping. The progressive broadening of mission mandates has moved peacekeeping away from simple force interposition onto multidimensional missions, merging military policing with political initiatives such as demobilization and reintegration of former combatants.


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