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Peacekeeping refers to activities that tend to create conditions that favor lasting peace.
Within the United Nations (UN) group of nation-state governments and organizations, there is a general understanding that at the international level, peacekeepers monitor and observe peace processes in post-conflict areas, and may assist ex-combatants in implementing peace agreement commitments that they have undertaken. Such assistance may come in many forms, including confidence-building measures, power-sharing arrangements, electoral support, strengthening the rule of law, and economic and social development. Accordingly, the UN peacekeepers (often referred to as Blue Berets or Blue Helmets because of their light blue berets or helmets) can include soldiers, police officers, and civilian personnel.
The United Nations is not the only organization to implement peacekeeping missions. Non-UN peacekeeping forces include the NATO mission in Kosovo (with United Nations authorization) and the Multinational Force and Observers on the Sinai Peninsula or the ones organized by the European Union like EUFOR RCA (with UN authorization). The Nonviolent Peaceforce is one NGO widely considered to have expertise in general peacemaking by non-governmental volunteers or activists.
There are a range of various types of operations encompassed in peacekeeping. In Virginia Fortna’s book Does Peacekeeping Work, for instance, she distinguishes four different types of peacekeeping operations. Importantly, these types of missions and how they are conducted are heavily influenced by the mandate in which they are authorized. Three of Fortna’s four types are consent-based missions, i.e. Chapter VI missions, with the fourth being a Chapter VII Mission. Chapter VI missions are consent based, therefore they require the consent of the belligerent factions involved in order to operate. Should they lose that consent, Peacekeepers would be compelled to withdraw. Chapter VII missions, by contrast, do not require consent, though they may have it. If consent is lost at any point, Chapter VII missions would not be required to withdraw.
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