Last week BBC news ran a five part special report, “Keeping the Peace,” exploring various aspects of UN peacekeeping. The final installment contains and interesting Q and A with John Bolton and the head of UN peacekeeping Jean-Marie Geuhenno, who discuss the political utility of peacekeeping missions. In a second installment, reporter Patrick Jackson speaks with a number of South Asian soliders about their experiences overseas. Collectively, Bangladesh, India and Pakistan, make up 40% of all UN peacekeepers deployed around the globe. As Jackson points out, UN missions are highly sought after assignments for these soldiers. (Not surprisingly, however, the soldiers tend to prefer deployments to Cyprus over Sudan.)
Yet another installment explores changing peacekeeping tactics forged in Democratic Republic of Congo and Haiti. In the last couple of years, these missions saw a new a new assertiveness in UN peacekeeping strategies that the Dutch General commanding peacekeepers in Eastern Congo described as the difference between being neutral and being impartial. “Being neutral means that you stand there and you say ‘Well, I have nothing to do with it,’” Maj Gen Patrick Cammaert explained to Patrick Jackson. “While being impartial means that you stand there, you judge the situation as it is and you take charge.” The whole series is well worth a read.