Past failures undermine the credibility of U.N. peacekeeping missions in Africa and demonstrate the struggles experienced by the blue-helmets are caused by both the context in which they operate and a long process of transition towards new forms of peacekeeping that contradict their core principles.
It is questionable whether the UN can really afford to shift political responsibility to local actors while renouncing to vigorous political initiatives as a mediator. To leverage its global legitimacy, the UN will need to take into account the inherently partiality of military tools and to work around its implications, insisting that politics need to come first.
In late 1993, a reinforced Swedish-Danish-Norwegian mechanized battalion (Nordbat 2) deployed to Bosnia as part of an ongoing UN peacekeeping mission. The battalion was under Swedish command, and with the exception of a Danish tank company and a Norwegian helicopter detachment, was comprised of Swedish former conscripts, led by active-duty officers. The former conscripts had volunteered to return from civilian life to serve in a professional capacity. These Swedish troops, coming from a nation that had not experienced war for almost 200 years, faced a rigid UN bureaucracy, an unclear mandate, and the UN-imposed rules of engagement bordered on the absurd. However, the Swedes had one thing the others didn't: a culture of mission command that had grown and developed for decades.