1. The UN Capstone Doctrine, in its Glossary of terms, defines ‘Robust Peacekeeping’ as, “the use of force by a United Nations peacekeeping operation at the tactical level, with the authorization of the Security Council, to defend its mandate against spoilers whose activities pose a threat to civilians or risk undermining the peace process”.
2. A ‘Concept Note on Robust Peacekeeping’ issued in 2009 by the DPKO Office of Military Affairs offers an interim definition of robust peacekeeping as, “a posture by a peacekeeping operation that demonstrates willingness, capacity and capability to deter and confront, including through the use of force when necessary, an obstruction to the implementation of its mandate”.
3. The concept of ‘robust peacekeeping’ emerged in the late 1990s as a response to the tragedies of Rwanda and Srebrenica (The Srebrenica massacre was the July 1995 killing of more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslims, mainly men and boys, in and around the town of Srebrenica during the Bosnian War), where UN peacekeepers did not intervene to stop massive violations of human rights, on the alleged grounds that they were not ‘robust enough’. In 2000, the Brahimi Report referred several times to the necessity of ‘robust peacekeeping forces’ as a lesson from past experiences. Subsequently, mandates of newly created operations have increasingly involved the idea that UN peacekeepers must be given the political and operational means to implement their mandate. In particular, the simultaneous attention given to the protection of civilians in peace missions has led the Security Council to instill a vocabulary of robustness in its resolutions.
4. Robustness is understood as a way to give any operation a degree of credibility, especially as regards spoilers. Robustness is supposed to allow a peacekeeping force to protect itself, to ensure some freedom of manoeuvre, and to prevent situations where the implementation of...
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