The Charter of the United Nationsgives the UN Security Council the power and responsibility to take collective action to maintain international peace and security. For this reason, the international community usually looks to the Security Council to authorize peacekeeping operations. Most of these operations are established and implemented by the United Nations itself with troops serving under UN operational command. In other cases, where direct UN involvement is not considered appropriate or feasible, the Council authorizes regional organizations such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the Economic Community of West African States or coalitions of willing countries to implement certain peacekeeping or peace enforcement functions.
Peacekeeping is a way to help countries torn by conflict create conditions for sustainable peace. UN peacekeepers – soldiers and military officers, civilian police officers and civilian personnel from many countries – monitor and observe peace processes that emerge in post-conflict situations and assist ex-combatants to implement the peace agreements they have signed. Such assistance comes in many forms, including confidence-building measures, power-sharing arrangements, electoral support, strengthening the rule of law, and economic and social development.
UN peacekeeping is highly cost-effective.The UN spends less per year on peacekeeping worldwide than the City of New York spends on the annual budgets of its fire and police departments. Furthermore, UN peacekeeping is far cheaper than the alternative, which is war. UN peacekeeping cost about $2.6 billion in 2002. In the same year, Governments worldwide spent more than $794 billion on arms – a figure that represents 2.5 per cent of world gross domestic product and shows no sign of decreasing.
Books on The United Nations
United Nations – Official Site
Alphabetical Index of Official United Nations websites