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HomeInternational Peacekeeping in Africa: Actors and Missions

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Published on Monday, March 12, 2012


The Center for Security Studies (CSS) at ETH Zurich in Switzerland will hold a conference the 23-24 November 2012 on International Peacekeeping in Africa, with a particular focus on current actors and missions. Over the last decades, the African continent has witnessed a proliferation of peacekeeping missions. Simultaneously, an increasing number of actors have become involved in the effort to bring peace to Africa, and this in turn has led to new and diverse types of operations. This conference seeks to analyze these developments in their entirety and comparatively in order to identify the most significant challenges and trends in international peacekeeping in Africa.



The African continent has been the scene of a great many armed conflicts since the end of the Cold War. Recent events in Congo, Sudan, Somalia, or Côte d’Ivoire remind us that violence remains endemic and continues to hamper the institutional, social, and economic development of Africa. Over the years, the international community has addressed this problem to varying degrees and tried to bring peace to Africa through a variety of means. The peacekeeping efforts were the most visible of these. With the end of the Cold War, peacekeeping was increasingly touted as a means of conflict resolution, only to be questioned after serious setbacks in the former Yugoslavia, Somalia, and Rwanda. Despite a temporary disengagement, the international community has tried to address the shortcomings of peacekeeping, which today is again considered an efficient tool for the promotion of peace. In Africa, where peace often remains a distant ideal, peacekeeping missions have proliferated as a consequence.

Simultaneously, an increasing number of actors have become involved in the effort to bring peace to Africa, and this in turn has led to new and various types of operations. The UN has been joined by regional organizations, most prominently the African Union (AU) and the European Union (EU), and by sub-regional organizations like the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Meanwhile, in light of what has been identified as the ‘new scramble for Africa’, great and regional powers have regained an interest in Africa and, as a consequence, in peacekeeping. The multiplication of actors as well as their varying interests and motivations have given rise to missions that are quite diverse with regard to their typology and composition. But despite the multitude of missions, actors, and approaches, international peacekeeping efforts in Africa continue to face many challenges and have disputable impacts.

In view of the continuous manifestations of violence in Africa, there has been much scholarly writing on war and conflict in this region over the last decades. This includes significant work on peacekeeping in Africa. This literature is, however, either already outdated or focuses predominantly on the UN, individual regional and sub-regional organizations, certain regions or countries, or specific themes such as the ‘Africanization of African security’. Thus, the recent expansion of actors and missions has not sufficiently been taken into account in its entirety or comparatively, and it is therefore difficult to distil the general trends of international peacekeeping in Africa. However, the missions as well as the challenges they face and their outcomes result largely from the combined interests and actions of the various actors.

This conference therefore seeks first to identify these actors, their particular interests and strategies, and their interactions. The focus is not only on the actors on the ground, i.e., the peacekeepers, but also on those powers and organizations that influence peacekeeping missions during their establishment and once they are deployed. The permanent UN Security Council members, the other BRICS countries – Brazil, India, and South Africa – and Nigeria as a regional power would be of particular interest. Furthermore, the project aims to take a closer look at the composition and the types of recent or current peacekeeping missions. Whereas the majority of operations are carried out by the UN, there are also missions under the flag of individual countries or regional and sub-regional organizations. Meanwhile, there may be pivotal states within an international or regional mission, and the multinational composition can vary according to the willingness of countries to contribute troops. Organizations and countries can also enter into partnerships, ranging from a division of labor to hybrid operations. There are different types of missions, which, according to their mandate and context, include a great variety of types ranging from traditional peacekeeping to peace enforcement.

With a focus on the actors and the missions they create, the aim of this conference is to identify the most significant challenges and trends in international peacekeeping in Africa and to publish selected papers in an edited volume with an academic publisher. The papers should not be theory-driven, but provide an informative analysis for scholars and policy-makers alike. Therefore, the CSS is seeking two types of papers:

  • Generic and contextual papers. Comparative analyses of the following themes are particularly welcome:
    • Actors
    • Missions
    • Challenges
    • Impacts
  • Case studies that are not based on individual organizations or actors, but on ‘theaters of operation’ or ‘conflict zones’ in order to allow for the inclusion of all actors and missions that have an influence on or are part of the peacekeeping effort.
    • Of particular interest are papers focusing on crisis regions or countries where various actors are currently involved, such as Western Africa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, or Somalia.
    • Each case study should present and analyze the actors and missions and should identify the challenges and impacts.


Proposals of between 300 and 500 words should be sent to Marco Wyss (wyss@sipo.gess.ethz.ch) (responsible for selection of submissions)

by 31 May 2012.

The CSS will support travel costs (reasonable) and accommodation expenses for the conference.

The results will be published as an edited volume that assesses the evolution of peacekeeping in Africa through generic and contextual articles that present comparative analyses of the actors, missions, challenges, and impacts, as well as case studies that focus on crisis regions or countries where various actors are currently involved.


  • Haldeneggsteig 4 (Center for Security Studies, ETH Zurich)
    Zurich, Switzerland


  • Thursday, May 31, 2012


  • Peacekeeping, United Nations, African Union


  • Marco Wyss
    courriel : m [dot] wyss [at] chi [dot] ac [dot] uk

Information source

  • Marco Wyss
    courriel : m [dot] wyss [at] chi [dot] ac [dot] uk


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« International Peacekeeping in Africa: Actors and Missions », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Monday, March 12, 2012, https://doi.org/10.58079/kfb

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