Bouncing Back from Rock Bottom: A New Era for the UN Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations?

The 2020 report of the UN Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations (C-34) marked the culmination of nearly a decade of efforts to improve the committee’s working methods and deliver a more relevant report. Because the report was restructured around the eight thematic priorities of the Action for Peacekeeping (A4P) initiative, it also helped translate the initiative’s Declaration of Shared Commitments into practice. This was an especially noteworthy achievement considering that the committee had failed to reach consensus on a report just one year prior.

This paper explores previous efforts to reform the C-34 and the process of agreeing to reform the working methods and report structure in 2019. It also assesses the contribution of the report’s revised structure and substance to ongoing efforts to support and advance peacekeeping reform. It concludes with lessons that could guide other UN reform initiatives: timing and circumstances matter, there must be an appetite for reform, those leading the reform process must listen and be impartial arbiters, and delegations must be patient and have realistic expectations.