chapter  11
13 Pages

Peacekeeping and the international system in the twenty-first century: looking back to look forward

One of the themes of this book has been the continuity of purpose that has characterized peacekeeping from the early twentieth century to the early twenty-first century. In pursuing this, we have challenged the idea that the underlying function of peacekeeping has undergone any significant qualitative change since the end of the cold war. Nevertheless, it is the case that there has been a significant quantitative transformation in the occurrence of peacekeeping since the late 1980s. More peacekeeping operations took place in more parts of the international system in the 1990s than in any preceding decade. This raises questions for the future. A very few years into the post-cold war era there were already clear signs that peacekeeping demand threatened to outstrip supply in the sense that available resources – institutional, human and financial – were becoming unequal to the range of crises on which they had to be expended. New approaches were proposed, for example by Boutros-Ghali’s An Agenda for Peace, and some were tried, in west Africa and in Europe, with mixed results. The twenty-first century, therefore, began with peacekeeping in something of a crisis, though a slow-burning one that remained manageable in the short-term.