The blue helmet blues

UN peacekeepers are being killed in several conflict zones and need the world’s support

The World Today Updated 23 February 2021 Published 1 October 2014 2 minute READ

Richard Gowan

UN Director, International Crisis Group

Imagine a dystopian future in which NATO, struggling against Islamist terrorism, has to deploy troops on a constant basis across Africa and the Middle East. Then all of a sudden it is struck by a series of calamities: more than 40 personnel are taken hostage in the Middle East, soldiers start dying on a weekly basis on the edge of the Sahara and an operation to handle an outbreak of ebola begins to spiral out of control. NATO, you might expect, would give up in exhaustion. After Afghanistan, western powers have little appetite for quagmires.

Yet this list of disasters is not imaginary. United Nations peace operations suffered every one of these blows in August and September, highlighting both the organization’s contribution to global security and its growing vulnerability.

Subscribe to read all issues

Articles from the current issue are free to read by all, the archive is exclusive to magazine subscribers and our members. Subscribe or become a member to view articles from the archive.