Peace operations by proxy: implications for humanitarian action of UN peacekeeping partnerships with non-UN security forces

Mandates of United Nations (UN) peacekeeping missions increasingly include stabilisation and peace enforcement components, which imply a proactive use of force often carried out by national, regional or multinational non-UN partners, operating either in support of or with the support of the UN, acting as 'proxies'. This article analyses the legal, policy and perception/security implications of different types of 'peace operations by proxy' and the additional challenges that such operations create for humanitarian action. It suggests some mitigating measures, including opportunities offered by the UN Human Rights Due Diligence Policy, for a more coherent approach to the protection of civilians, but also acknowledges some of the limitations to an independent UN-led humanitarian action.

About the authors

Jérémie Labbé

Jérémie Labbé is Head of the Principles Guiding Humanitarian Action project at the International Committee of the Red Cross (since July 2014). From 2010 to 2014, he developed a new programme on humanitarian affairs at the International Peace Institute in New York, and between 2003 and 2009, he worked with the ICRC both in its headquarters in Geneva and in different field missions.

Arthur Boutellis
Research Fellow

Arthur Boutellis is a non-resident adviser at the International Peace Institute in New York and has worked in several UN peacekeeping missions in various positions.