Peace Operations in Africa: Lessons Learned Since 2000

More than 50 peace operations have deployed in Africa since 2000, including multiple African-led or hybrid African Union/United Nations initiatives. The frequency of these deployments underscores the ongoing importance of these operations in the playbook of regional and multilateral bodies to prevent conflict, protect civilians, and enforce ceasefires and peace agreements. Recent operations have featured increasingly ambitious goals and complex institutional partnerships.

The achievements and shortcomings of recent peace operations offer vital lessons for optimizing this increasingly central but still evolving tool for addressing conflict and instability. This Africa Security Brief, authored by Paul D. Williams of George Washington University, takes stock of the numerous past missions and changes in mandates, expectations, and operations to flush out key policy considerations for current and future peace missions.


  • Over 50 peace operations have been deployed to 18 African countries since 2000.
  • Partnership peacekeeping,” which involves collaboration between various multilateral and bilateral actors and institutions, has become increasingly common.
  • Force generation efforts should focus on deploying the capabilities needed to realize mission objectives and not solely on numbers of peacekeepers.
  • Peace operations must be seen as part of an effective political strategy aimed at conflict resolution not a substitute for it
  • Maintaining legitimacy among international and local stakeholders is a crucial part of achieving success.
  • International disagreements persist over the fundamental purpose of peace operations, particularly with regard to the use of military force.

ScreenShot060Key lessons:

  • An effective political strategy is a prerequisite for success.
  • Strategic coordination is crucial
  • Ends and means must be in synch
  • Define and deliver “robust” operations
  • Generate specific mission capabilities not just numbers of personnel
  • Legitimacy matters
  • Female peacekeepers enhance operational effectiveness

Policy implications:

  • Clarify the purpose of peace operations
  • Prioritize peace operations to support effective peace processes
  • Design better entry and exit strategies
  • Invest more and better resources
  • Recruit more civilians

Source: Africa Center for Strategic Studies

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