It is an absolute certainty that 2014 will be a turbulent year for the United Nations. The organization is struggling with crises ranging from the chaos in the Central African Republic (CAR) to the plight of Syrian refugees. There is little hope that these challenges will dissipate soon. Yet two sets of peace talks this month could well decide whether the U.N. faces a truly dreadful year ahead, or just a very difficult one.
After two weeks of slaughter in South Sudan, UNMISS, the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the country, faces three possible scenarios: fragile success, prolonged agony and decisive failure. In the first and best scenario, the mission will manage to hold together militarily long enough for more-or-less sincere political talks to end the violence. In the second, it might muddle through in the face of half-hearted negotiations and spasmodic but serious violence, trying to save as many lives as possible.
The United Nations has begun deploying its first drones to gather intelligence about rebel groups in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Analysts have mixed views on how effective the surveillance drones will be in helping peacekeepers curb unrest in a country that has been ravaged by fighting for years.
The United Nations is deploying what it calls its first-ever combatants to shut down rebels in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in a risky shift from policing the world's conflicts with neutrality to a more aggressive use of force.
Who cares about Darfur these days? The conflict in the western Sudanese region, which galvanized public opinion in the middle of the last decade, is now rarely in the headlines. This is not because the area is calm. Renewed violence has displaced 300,000 of its inhabitants this year alone. The United Nations and African Union still have 19,000 troops and police officers trying to keep the peace there. But fresher crises, such as those in Mali and Syria, have long replaced Darfur at the top of the international agenda.
In late-April, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon tapped Nicholas Kay, a former British ambassador and Africa director at the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office, as the secretary-general’s new special representative in Somalia. When Kay takes up his duties as the head of UNSOM on June 3, he will be presented with both risks and opportunities at a crucial time of renewed hope and momentum for Somalia.
Global concern is currently mounting once more about the impacts of a more resource-scarce world, with particular attention focused at present on the risks of a renewed global food price spike following a spate of extreme weather in the US and around the world. These global trends have the potential to cause major problems for a country like Ethiopia, where wheat is by far the country's biggest import by value. Against this backdrop, CIC has published Resources, Risks and Resilience: Scarcity and climate change in Ethiopia, by CIC senior fellow Alex Evans.
The Annual Review of Global Peace Operations and the Review of Political Missions have evolved into the Global Peace Operations Review, an interactive web-portal presenting in-depth analysis and detailed data on military peacekeeping operations and civilian-led political missions by the United Nations, regional organizations, and ad-hoc coalitions. The website can be accessed here Global Peace Operations Review