One of the most visible tools of international cooperation on peace and security are UN Peacekeepers — Blue Helmets. Since the advent of UN Peacekeeping in the late 1940s, the institution of UN Peacekeeping and the circumstances in which Blue Helmets deploy have changed considerably; and in recent years the role of UN Peacekeepers and the peace and security architecture of the United Nations itself have undergone a very rapid transformation.

Today there are about 95,000 uniformed personnel deployed to 13 missions around the world.

Though the United States deploys very few boots on the ground to peacekeeping missions, it is the single largest funder of UN Peacekeeping. Also, as a veto-wielding member of the Security Council, it determines where peacekeepers should be sent. This means that the United States holds tremendous potential to determine the effectiveness of UN peacekeeping.

My guest today, Victoria Holt, has spent a career studying what makes UN Peacekeeping effective and designing policies to strengthen American support for UN Peacekeeping. Victoria Holt is Vice President at the Henry L Stimson Center and served as  Deputy Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Security during the two terms of the Obama administration. We kick off discussing a brief history of UN Peacekeeping and how it has changed over the years before having a broader conversation about what opportunities exist for the United States to help strengthen UN Peacekeeping and to support the larger peace and security architecture in which UN Peacekeeping operates.


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Today’s episode is produced in partnership with the Better World Campaign as part of a series  examining the opportunities for strengthening multilateral engagement by the new Biden-Harris administration and the incoming 117th Congress. To learn more and access additional episodes in this series, please visit

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