A. What are the different types of missions?

In 2013, there were around 60 missions1 worldwide, all differing in their mandates, shapes and implementing organisations. Since the first United Nations (UN) peacekeeping mission was established in 1948, crisis response has taken on many different forms. Therefore, you will encounter many different terms and names in this field of work: from peacekeeping to crisis management, from civilian crisis management mission to peace operation. Names and types of missions have established themselves not only in relation to their mandates and functions but also depending on the implementing actor, which might just use a different term for the same type of mission that another organisation deploys.

Missions of the European Union (EU) are often referred to as crisis management missions, Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) missions or EU operations (civilian missions and/or military operations), while other organisations use the terms UN peacekeeping, peace operations or peace support operations (PSOs).
This app uses peace operations or crisis management missions as general terms, while being as specific as possible when describing certain types of missions such as monitoring or peace enforcement.

1. Conflict prevention and mediation

Conflict prevention involves diplomatic measures to keep intra-state or inter-state tensions and disputes from escalating into violent conflict. It includes early warning, information gathering and a careful analysis of the factors driving the conflict. Conflict prevention activities of the EU may include: early warning assessments as part of the EU’s Early Warning System, which includes EU institutions and EU Member States; conflict analysis as part of the planning, review or conduct of a mission or operation; capacity building, coaching and technical support for mediation, possibly together with teams of the EU Special Representatives or EU Delegations; and mediation or facilitation at the political level by EU or outside experts.

Conflict prevention activities of the UN may include the use of the Secretary-General’s ‘good offices’, preventive deployment of UN missions or conflict mediation led by the UN Department of Political Affairs (DPA).

2. Peace enforcement

Peace enforcement involves the use of a range of coercive measures and sanctions up to the point of military force when a breach of peace is detected. It requires the explicit authorisation of the UN Security Council. Its use, however, is politically controversial and remains a means of last resort. The enforcement of peace is regulated by Chapter VII of the UN Charter. For its authorisation, the UN Security Council must first determine a threat to international security according to Article 39 of the UN Charter. Subsequently, the Security Council can pass a resolution that is legally binding for all Member States. This resolution requires the affirmative votes of nine out of fifteen members including the affirmative votes of the five permanent members, i.e. they must not veto the resolution. Abstentions or absences are not considered a veto.

3. Peacemaking

Peacemaking generally includes measures to address conflicts in progress and usually involves diplomatic action to bring hostile parties to a negotiated agreement. Peacemakers may be envoys, governments, groups of states, regional organisations or the United Nations. Efforts may also be undertaken by unofficial and non-governmental groups or by prominent personalities.

4. Peacekeeping

Peacekeeping has mostly been a task attributed to UN peace operations. Its beginnings were marked by the establishment of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) in the Middle East in 1948. During the Cold War, traditional peacekeeping missions prevailed: light-armed UN peacekeeping troops monitored the compliance with peace agreements and ceasefires.

5. Monitoring

The main roles of monitoring missions are to observe, collect information and assess and report on the performance of relevant home country institutions (e.g. police, justice, military, administration) and their personnel, usually on the basis of an agreement. In such cases, the parties may also call upon the EU, the UN or the OSCE to participate in conflict settlement mechanisms as regards the interpretation of the obligations. Examples of monitoring missions are the completed EU Aceh Monitoring Mission (AMM), the EU Monitoring Mission in Georgia (EUMM) as well as the completed UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS).

6. Peacebuilding

Peacebuilding, a concept coined by UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali in his 1992 report An Agenda for Peace, covers a wide range of civilian measures aimed at establishing the foundations for durable peace in post-conflict countries. Peacebuilding has become an essential part of almost all crisis management missions, combining both security and development policy approaches by working to remove the structural causes of war and by developing tools for conflict transformation. Because peacebuilding must begin as quickly as possible after the end of an armed conflict, modern peace operations combine peacekeeping measures with peacebuilding elements. This exceptionally complex and time-consuming process requires coordinated action by international actors as well as the early participation of local partners. In 2005, the UN founded the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) to improve coordination and put financing on a solid footing. The EU supports peacebuilding inter alia through its Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace and various CSDP missions. The EU also has a dedicated Conflict Prevention, Peacebuilding and Mediation Instruments Division within the EEAS.

1^ Depending on the definition, this can include UN peace operations and political missions, EU operations, NATO missions and OSCE missions and field offices.