This issue brief addresses the nature and timing of peacekeeping transitions, paying particular attention to the perspectives of UN member states and decisions by the Security Council. In light of the impending drawdown or reconfiguration of a number of peacekeeping missions, it identifies a resurgent interest among member states in the challenges posed by peacekeeping transitions.

Amid much debate over the financing of peacekeeping missions and responsibility for peacekeeping versus peacebuilding, the report makes a number of recommendations for member states to consider:

  • Discussions on transitions need to focus on deciding where and when peacekeeping is the appropriate tool, not just on the cost implications of drawdowns and withdrawals.
  • Despite appearances, thematic debates that include peacebuilding concerns are particularly relevant to Security Council practices, as peacebuilding activities can create the conditions that allow for a successful reconfiguration or withdrawal of peacekeepers.
  • Discussions on transitions present an opportunity to involve host-country authorities and develop sustainable transition plans from the start of a mission, rather than only as it ends.

A summary of a roundtable discussion held at IPI on the drawdown or withdrawal of peacekeeping and special political missions is also available in a meeting note entitled UN Transitions: Mission Drawdown or Withdrawal.