Fog of Peace

The Fog of Peace: A Memoir of International Peacekeeping in the 21st Century


by Jean-Marie Guehenno[1]


Reviewed by James V. Arbuckle, for Peacehawks




Jean-Marie Guehenno was appointed United Nations Under-Secretary General for Peacekeeping Operations (USG PKO) in 2000, and held that position until 2008.  A “scholar-diplomat”, as one blurbist has characterized him, he was until  his appointment without direct experience of the United Nations.


The Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) was created in 1992 from the Department of Special Political Affairs, which had been responsible for PKOs since their inception in 1948.  The then USG for that Department, Marrack Goulding, assumed the leadership of the new DPKO until he was succeeded by Kofi Annan in 1993. Annan was replaced by Bernard Miyet of France in 1997 when Annan  became Secretary-General[2].  Since then all DPKO USGs have been French, and on 1 April  of this year Jean-Pierre Lacroix will replace Herve Ladsus.


The book is engagingly written, and conveys well the feel of the immediacy of high diplomacy, but careful readers may find some things missing.

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Still caught in the crossfire? UN peace operations and their information capacities

  by Ingrid A. Lehmann

(Editor’s Note: This article is a version of a chapter in the book, Communication and Peace: Managing an emerging field, Eds. Hoffmann and Hawkins, Routledge, London, 2015)


When the United Nations launched its first peacekeeping operations in the 1950s, the concept of using third party military units to create conditions for peace was in its infancy. Inevitably, media reporting of those first peace operations was scanty. Public impressions of these efforts at conflict resolution were covered by relatively few print media and only some television news programs.

However, conflicts in the 1990s in the Balkans, in Somalia and in Rwanda occurred nearly simultaneously and attracted 24/7 instant news coverage around the world. UN peace operations which were enmeshed in these new wars were thus propelled into the limelight. The media was systematically used by parties to the conflict to propagate hatred and violence, putting international peacekeepers increasingly on the defensive. Consequently, UN operations deployed in these conflicts received much unfavorable publicity and were, in more ways than one, caught in the crossfire (Lehmann 1999, 2009; Alleyne 2003; Loewenberg 2006; Lindley 2007; Abusaad 2008; Egleder 2012).

Finally, the United Nations itself had to recognize the power of communication as a critical support for its peacekeeping operations. Beginning in 2000 a new peacekeeping doctrine evolved following the issue of the Panel on United Nations Peace Operations – the so-called “Brahimi Report” – which also addressed the question of public information capacity. Simultaneously, substantial reforms of the UN’s own Information Department (DPI) were undertaken by senior management under Secretary-General Kofi Annan. These reforms resulted in a series of policy papers and guidance notes which established a strategic approach to managing information during peacekeeping and post-conflict peacebuilding. Throughout this process, which lasted several years, strategic communication was the declared goal of the UN in which the concept of peace communication  was implicit rather than explicit.

In order to analyze the effectiveness of the new communication policy this chapter will look at three peacekeeping operations where the UN’s ability to build public support and respond to criticism was tested:

1.   The UN operation in Kosovo: “Peace Journalism” at work?

2. The UN’s role in the cholera crisis in Haiti (2010–2013): failed scandal- 
management; and

3.  Sexual abuse and exploitation by UN peacekeepers in the Congo.

The comparative brevity of this article will not allow a comprehensive analysis of the public dimensions of those peacekeeping operations. By selecting critical incidents or crises for the missions concerned we will look at how these challenging situations were handled, and to what effect.

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Panel 3 of a Triptych for Peacehawks, by Jamie Arbuckle


On 6 November, the Army of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), with support from UN, Tanzanian and South African forces, defeated the rebel group M23. On 5 December, Nelson Mandela died.  In one month, then, we have been confronted with the worst and the best of sub-Saharan Africa.  Which is the true picture? Which represents the future of Africa? Are conflicts to be peacefully resolved, which we might call the Nelson Mandela Future Model, or are conflicts to be endlessly and brutally protracted, which we might call the Central African Future Model?  Is there hope, or do we face merely a grim preparation for more of the same, in Africa south of the Sahara?

Is the Congo still at the heart of darkness, or is it the birthplace of the first great international human rights movement of the 20th Century?[1]

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By Jamie Arbuckle, for Peacehawks


Have you heard the one about how many Peacekeepers it takes to change a light bulb?

Actually, any number will do – but the light bulb has to want to change.

To know where we are going, we need to know where we are, and to know that, we usually need to know where we have been.  To look ahead, then, we often need to look back.

One of the most critical factors in modern peace operations has, since the creation of the United Nations, been the issue of consent to and the continuing support for an operation.  The  UN is hard-wired for consensual operations; it’s in the DNA, in the Charter:

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R2P vs State Sovereignty: The Last Refuge of Scoundrels

Presentation to Canadian Studies Centre Symposium, The University of Innsbruck, 12 November 2009, by James V. Arbuckle

Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.[1]

- Dr. Samuel Johnson, 1775


The responsibility for the conduct of states towards their people has long been a subject of controversy. None of any outsider’s business, said Hitler in 1933 (to the League of Nations), and Stalin in 1948 (to the drafters of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights). However, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted by the General Assembly (GA) of the United Nations on 10 December 1948, and changed forever the concept of the relationship of a state to its people, and its responsibility for them.

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