LISD hosted a lunch seminar on Thursday, October 4, 2007 at 12:00 p.m. in 012 Bendheim Hall. The session, “More Successful UN Peacekeeping: Illusion or Reality?,” was led by Salman Ahmed, LISD Visiting Research Scholar.
Following catastrophic failures in Somalia, Rwanda and Bosnia in the mid-1990s, many had assumed that the days of UN peacekeeping were numbered. Indeed, by 1998, the numbers of UN peacekeepers deployed world-wide had shrunk below 14,000 in total, and the total annual budget for their support had dropped below $1 billion per annum, less than a quarter of what it had been just a few years earlier. Less than a decade later, however, UN peace operations activity is at an all-time high, with over 100,000 troops, police and civilians deployed in 20 operations, including in Sudan/Darfur, the DRC, Lebanon, Liberia, Kosovo, Haiti and Afghanistan. The numbers are expected to rise considerably in the year ahead, with the annual budget to top $5 billion.
Ahmed discussed the causes and implications of the dramatic surge in UN peace operations activity and the state of the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations’ reform efforts. He is currently on sabbatical from the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, for which he most recently served as the Chief of Staff. He has been intimately involved in UN peacekeeping reform over the past several years, including through the co-drafting of the Secretary-General’s Report of the Fall of Srebrenica, the co-drafting of the Report of the Panel on UN Peace Operations (the “Brahimi Report”) and the management of various internal Task Forces and Working Groups to implement and further refine the peacekeeping reform agenda. Just prior to coming to Princeton, he was intimately involved in deliberations with the members of the General Assembly on the latest wave of peacekeeping reforms initiated by the new Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon. Over the past 15 years with the UN, Ahmed has served in several peace operations, including in Cambodia, Mozambique, South Africa, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Afghanistan and Iraq. He holds a MPhil in International Relations from Cambridge University.