As we go to press the fighting wears on in Sierra Leone as the world community continues to debate the complex yet fundamental issues concerning peacekeeping and enforcement. The world appears to be caught ill prepared to co-operatively respond to yet another complex intrastate crisis. Since the establishment of the United Nations and its very first peacekeeping mission in 1948, basic issues, questions and themes have emerged and re-emerged: is humanitarian intervention a moral obligation of Member States of the United Nations? Is intervention based on humanitarian principles or national interests? Are nations willing to pay the political price of casualties when no 'national interests' are at stake? What do we do when those on essentially humanitarian missions are targeted or drawn into the vortex of the very conflict they are attempting to manage? What role do armaments play in a peace operation?

Ironically, the issue of a standing UN force has its beginnings with the origins of the United Nations itself. Chapter VII of the UN Charter outlines the obligations of Member States regarding the provision of armed forces, assistance and facilities for maintaining international peace and security, and describes the necessary institutions to manage such a force. The complexity of the issue is evident in the fact that over fifty years later, the peacekeeping debate continues and a standing force has yet to emerge.

For this issue of Disarmament Forum we offer an in-depth examination of the difficult questions surrounding peacekeeping: the historical basis for a standing United Nations force, the effectiveness of burden sharing and regional efforts, verification of peacekeeping, civil-military relations and the privatization of peacekeeping/peace enforcement.

Citation: Kerstin Vignard (ed.) (2000). "Disarmament Forum: Peacekeeping: Evolution or Extinction?", UNIDIR, Geneva.

Disponible aussi en français.


  • Editor’s note, Kerstin Vignard
  • Special Comment, Under-Secretary-General Ibrahim Gambari
  • International Peacekeeping, Disarmament and International Force: A Circular Proposition, Stephen Kinloch Pichat
  • Keeping the Peace in Africa, Eric g. Berman & Katie E. Sams
  • Partners Apart: Managing Civil-Military Co-operation in Humanitarian Interventions, Catriona Gourlay
  • The Verification and Monitoring of Peace Accords, Jane Boulden
  • The Privatization of Peacekeeping: Prospects and Realities, Damian Lilly
  • Summing up Disarmament and Conversion Events, the Bonn International Center for Conversion
  • Building confidence in a fissile materials production moratorium using commercial satellite imagery, Hui Zhang & Frank von Hippel