Non Resident Fellow Richard Gowan argues that the next American ambassador to the United Nations should have at least a passing interest in Africa, as roughly half of the Security Council's resolutions and statements focus on African issues, and 80 percent of UN peacekeepers are deployed on the continent.
Non-Resident Fellow Richard Gowan discusses the implications of UN involvement in counterterrorist missions. He argues that while peacekeeping bodies are not meant to serve this function, their supportive involvement on peacekeeping efforts contributes to preserving higher levels of discipline and accountability. These could otherwise be absent without the UN’s multilateral checks.
Non-Resident Fellow Richard Gowan delivers his thoughts on the important lessons former Secretary-General Kofi Annan has left for international diplomacy. Highlighting his most important strengths, Gowan argues that Annan will almost certainly be remembered as one of the best secretaries-general the UN has had.
2008 is synonymous with global financial instability. However, as the 10th anniversary of the last global financial crisis draws near, Non-Resident Fellow Richard Gowan highlights the lessons 2008 held for conflict management. Conflicts in that year, such as in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Georgia, show the risks that new conflicts carry for the international system. While overshadowed by global economic concerns, these unnoticed conflicts prefigured the wars of the coming decade in the Middle East and Ukraine. What ensued was a prevailing period of "strategic turbulence" for conflict management.
Non-Resident Fellow Richard Gowan analyzes a new study commissioned by Britain's Stabilization Unit, a government office formed in the wake of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. He explains that the new report, drafted by independent experts, focuses on how power brokers in war-torn countries strike political deals. The report argues that violence can be "stabilized", if not necessarily brought to a total halt, when political, economic or security elites make concrete bargains over how to divide up power and resources.
Today, peacemakers from organizations like the United Nations are most often trapped between two types of conflict they are unlikely to fix. Some conflicts, like those in Syria and Ukraine, are too geopolitically sensitive for impartial mediators to resolve. Others, like gang wars in Latin America, are too complex and fragmented for outsiders to end. Few seem “just right” for resolution.
Ten years ago, stories about endemic violence in the Darfur region of Sudan often made headlines in the West. The conflict there continues sporadically but is all but forgotten today. This month, the Security Council agreed to slash the number of peacekeepers in the joint United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur, or UNAMID, by almost half, with a view to closing the mission entirely in 2020. The decision created barely a ripple beyond the council. Nonetheless, the drawdown of UNAMID potentially marks a turning point for UN peacekeeping operations.