Peacekeeping games, anyone?

So many people play online as warfighters but, in stark contrast, no one plays as peacekeepers. The immediate explanation is simple: there are no such games. But that is a mystery to me. Peacekeeping is more intellectually and ethically challenging, more deeply meaningful, more emotionally rewarding (saving people), and still includes the challenges (and excitement) of combat. So I began to explore the possibilities of peacekeeping gaming which led to publishing of a detailed paper recently: “From Wargaming to Peacekeeping: Digital Simulations with Peacekeeper Roles Needed” (pdf) in the journal International Peacekeeping.

I first asked myself and my research assistants, avid gamers who became my co-authors: what existing games come close to peacekeeping? A search online for “peacekeeping” games yielded some ridiculous results at first. For instance, the game Peacekeeper – Trench Defense describes itself this way:

Fight epic battles, slay endless waves of enemy hordes, and restore the peace! You’re the Peacekeeper, one of the world’s toughest elite soldiers. A relentless onslaught of enemy troops is invading your land. It’s up to you to restore the peace, and what better way to do that than with your huge arsenal of guns?!

Not exactly what we had in mind.

I took heart from PAXsims, which has the best reviews and descriptions of games involving realistic peace processes. Furthermore, the journal-Simulation & Gaming had a whole issue on peacebuilding in 2013, guest edited by Rex Brynen. So I felt that at least I was not alone; others were thinking about similar possibilities.  Rex’s Brynania game, in his eponymous territory, considers peacekeeping as part of the toolbox for conflict resolution. And, his survey shows that his student gamers strongly supported UN-led peacekeeping and mediation over all the other peace process options. But there are no games online to actually practice UN peacekeeping.

I have yet to find a commercial game, on a gameboard or digitally, where UN-style peacekeeping is the focus. Some militaries have experimented with peacekeeping training by reskinning warfighting games, like Arma3 and its more expensive (professional) platform Virtual Battlespace (now at VBS4 from Bohemia Interactive). But with a license fee of thousands per computer per year, VBS4 is beyond the reach of most individuals and peacekeeping training institutions. Besides, a wargame modified into a peacekeeping game will look like just that, not a product built from the ground up to realistically simulate peace operations.

There are a few relevant and exciting games for counter-terrorism and stability operations. But these are mostly US-style operations – think Iraq and Afghanistan, which have hardly proven to be successful models for creating peace. These operations are quite different from UN peace operations, which are based on a trinity of principles that are not usually present in US/NATO stability operations: consent of the main parties to the conflict for the UN deployment; impartiality so that the mission is guided by international law and any peace agreements between the conflicting parties (i.e., the UN should not side with one party and treat the other as the enemy); and the defensive use of force, unlike the frequently offensive character of most stability operations. Still, peace operations can require the use of force if an armed group poses an imminent threat to UN personnel or local civilians. And some elements can definitely be transferred from counter-insurgency (COIN) games like Rebel Inc: Escalation, e.g., learning about power-brokers, civ-mil relations, working with humanitarian actors (while giving them “humanitarian space”), using media coverage as leverage, etc.

We can also learn from the table-top exercises (TTX) that militaries so often play. However, in Canada and its NATO allies, the simulations are centered on a NATO-like alliance. These forces do not have the composition, spirit or integrated nature of the United Nations, where troops from the developed and developing world work alongside police and civilians, all under civilian international control. More importantly, the goal is to win the peace not to win the war. There are a few exercises with strong peacekeeping components, like the Viking multinational exercises held annually by the Swedish armed forces and the Folke Bernadotte Academy. In its day, the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre (1994–2013) in Canada also developed multiple exercises involving UN-led multidisciplinary peacekeeping missions, mostly based in the land of Fontinalis.

Screenshot from the Peacekeeper Game Project.

After searching, researching and writing about the idea of digital peacekeeping games, I wanted to start practicing what I was preaching. But moving from the general idea to even a demonstration game (proof of concept) necessitated a skilled game developer, who was generously provided by M7 Database Services. One game concept is now being developed – see, with explanation and video playthrough. A preliminary demonstration game is also available (upon request to This design and development work showed me the great power of agile object-based game development using assets from the Unity store – for more, see the peacekeeping gaming paper (pdf), specifically the section on “New and Emerging Methods of Game Design and Development.”

Screenshot from the Peacekeeper Game Project.

With this and similar initiatives in progress, it seems that peacekeeping gaming might be moving from vision to reality. Hopefully, game design companies will explore the field and the options. And I also urge the United Nations to explore them, not only for the training but also public education. Digital simulations allow for the easy production of videos to illustrate peacekeeping principles and practices. From my UN experience, I learned why “disruptive technologies” are given that name. Many UN officials recognized the exciting potential for peacekeeping simulation but did not want to disrupt their current work plans, overloaded as they were. Still, there is hope for UN digital innovation, especially as the COVID-affected world seeks to do more online, including peacekeeping training, during and after the crisis.

Screenshot from the Peacekeeper Game Project.

I know the Canadian and international officers I teach at the Canadian Forces College, especially those in my peace operations class, are enthusiastic to engage in peacekeeping simulations. Now would be the time to develop the games or encourage others to develop them. There are options to foster a new gaming genre: work with the gaming industry or with emerging game designers at colleges and universities in their gaming and design programmes.

Peacekeeping games, anyone?

And if the options to develop new games are few, and the development work with the United Nations proves too slow, then there’s more time to do the next best thing: producing more academic papers!

Walter Dorn

Peacekeeping in Central African Republic

Peacekeeping in Central African Republic:
a smart, but not risk-free, choice

When measured against Mali and the Democratic Republic of Congo, CAR seems the best option.

Evan Cinq-Mars and A. Walter Dorn


Originally published in The Hill Times (Ottawa), 9 November 2016.


An unexpected candidate has emerged in the guessing game of where Canada will make its much-anticipated contribution to a United Nations peacekeeping mission: Central African Republic (CAR).

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Mali have been suggested as potential deployments. However, as John Ivison has reported in The National Post, the government could deploy Canadian personnel to the UN operation in CAR, known as MINUSCA. This might be the main effort or a parallel contribution. In any case, Canadians will need to learn more about this land-locked country in the middle of Africa.

CAR continues to be gripped by the conflict that began in late 2012, which saw the Séléka rebel alliance overthrow the former president, François Bozizé. Séléka attacks against the predominantly Christian population led to the emergence of anti-balaka militias that, in turn, focused their vengeance upon civilians from CAR’s Muslim minority.

The French deployed a military mission in late 2013 to stem the bloodletting, and after a short African Union operation, MINUSCA assumed responsibility to keep the peace in September 2014.

Two years into its mission, MINUSCA is still struggling to respond to the conflict and its underlying tensions. While it has yet to be formally announced, a Canadian contribution to MINUSCA would be smart for three reasons.

First, the environment in CAR appears more conducive to mission success than other options. The DRC, which hosts nearly 20,000 UN peacekeepers, is on the precipice of conflict as its long-serving president, Joseph Kabila, seeks to extend his time in power.

By contrast, CAR concluded successful presidential elections in February. Violence is less widespread than it was in late 2013 and 2014, largely thanks to the progressive deployment of MINUSCA and a desire by the majority of Central Africans for an end to violent conflict.

Second, peacekeepers in CAR are not targeted by armed groups as they are in Mali. Thirty-three UN peacekeepers have been killed in Mali in 2016 alone, making it the deadliest mission for blue helmets in the world today.

Third, MINUSCA is short on Western contributions compared to other UN operations. The UN mission in Mali, for example, has benefited from sizable contributions from Germany, the Netherlands, and Sweden. By contrast, the closest thing to a robust Western contributor for MINUSCA is a small Serbian contingent. France has progressively scaled down its national presence in the country and officially ended its military mission on Oct. 31. Portugal, a NATO ally, plans to send 160 special forces to CAR, but there is a need for a solid and more sizable Western contributor.

Canada’s deployment would be a strategic help to the UN in CAR, which has relied mostly on ill-equipped peacekeepers from immediate neighbours (like the two Congos and Cameroon), and traditional peacekeeping contributors (like Bangladesh and Pakistan). Our recent combat experience in Afghanistan and the ability to draw from a bilingual pool of personnel sets us apart from any other potential MINUSCA contributor.

However smart, a deployment to CAR will not come risk-free. Predatory armed groups still control a sizable portion of the country. Post-election gains risk being erased by a recent surge of violence in the capital, Bangui, and the interior during October, which has claimed dozens of lives. MINUSCA struggles to contain these outbursts.

UN peacekeepers have also paid the highest sacrifice in CAR. Twenty-five have died since September 2014; 12 of them were killed in “malicious acts” according to the UN. Many more have been wounded, including at least 12 peacekeepers in the past three weeks.

A few soldiers from the French, African, and UN missions have also been exposed as predators, with serious allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse. They have sullied the UN’s reputation in CAR. All the more reason why a contributor like Canada with strict rules and procedures against sexual exploitation and abuse is needed.

More generally, the root causes of violence in CAR remain unaddressed. Impunity for atrocities and decades of malgouvernance still plague the new government. Significant progress has not yet been made in disarming the spoilers of peace. Standing up CAR’s armed forces is also long way off. Real reconciliation is a distant hope as violence continues.

Canada will confront these issues in a country of vast geographic size, with UN bases stationed in remote areas where there is limited state authority and poor lines of communication. The logistics will be a challenge not unlike Canada’s experience in Afghanistan.

Still, among the options, CAR is a smart choice for Canada’s deployment to a UN peacekeeping mission. It can be made smarter by ensuring our approach is holistic, using bilateral national-building efforts to support CAR’s recovery.

Financial and political support to help restore state authority beyond Bangui is crucial. Investment in the proposed hybrid Special Criminal Court could help to address impunity for atrocities that has contributed to recurring cycles of violence. An upcoming donors conference in Brussels on Nov. 17 presents an opportunity to signal Canada’s commitment to CAR beyond a peacekeeping contribution.

This support will help build a safer environment for Canada’s peacekeepers, and for the citizens of Central African Republic they may be sent to protect.


Evan Cinq-Mars is the United Nations Advocate and Policy Advisor with the Center for Civilians in Conflict in New York.

A. Walter Dorn is a professor of defence studies at the Royal Military College and president of the World Federalist Movement-Canada.

US Operation Eldorado Canyon

US Operation Eldorado Canyon 1986: Just or Unjust to What Degree?

Andrew Wedgwood and A. Walter Dorn


Colonel Muammar Qaddafi’s Libya was subjected to two armed interventions from the air: in US Operation Eldorado Canyon (1986) and in NATO operation Allied Protector (2011), which was preceeded by a short US-led operation called Odyssey Dawn (2011). Were these operations ethically justified? Through the lens of the Just War Tradition, seven moral principles are assessed in both qualitative and quantitative fashion. The analysis applies the novel Just War Index to the 1986 US operation and compares it to the 2011 case. The latter is the subject of a more indepth analysis in another publication (“NATO’s Libya Campaign 2011: Just or Unjust to What Degree?”, forthcoming)


            The US intervention in Libya in 1986, involving a short bombing campaign, was different from the 2011 intervention in purpose, duration, authorization, execution and results. Naturally an analysis using the same just war criteria yields different results. For the sake of brevity, the analysis is shorter but numerical values are also given for each criterion. The order of assessment will be identical to the contemporary intervention, beginning with just cause.

The 1986 US bombing campaign in Libya was executed on the evening of 14 April and morning of 15 April under the direction of then US President Ronald Reagan. The joint Navy and Air Force action, dubbed Operation Eldorado Canyon, involved approximately 100 aircraft. The bombing itself lasted only 10-15 minutes and achieved significant damage to most of the selected targets.

            The bombings were intended to deter Qaddafi from sponsoring further terrorism, to punish him for a litany of prior terrorist acts including the Berlin nightclub bombing, and to signal that terrorist acts sponsored by rogue states would exact a heavy toll.[i] Qaddafi was undoubtedly a leading sponsor of terrorism at the time having reportedly trained 7,000-8,000 terrorists per year and was second only to Iran in the financing of terrorist organizations.[ii] Given that the United States also had intelligence indicating that Libya was planning to strike again,[iii] it is assessed that the United States had considerable force behind the argument of just cause.

Just Cause: +2

            In considering legitimate authority, the importance of multilateralism to President Reagan’s administration paled in comparison to that of President Obama. After approaching European allies to support its case for action and subsequently being rejected, it was clear that it would be impossible to build broad international support. Consequently, President Reagan carried forth with the operation unilaterally. Not only had European allies Spain and France actively opposed the unilateral US action by denying use of their airspace but the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) followed suit and passed resolution 41/38 (1986) condemning the bombings.[iv] The UNSC also considered a draft resolution to condemn the bombings that gained the requisite support of 9 of the 15 Council members only to be vetoed by the United States, United Kingdom, and France.[v] Despite strong domestic support for the strikes the near complete failure to gain UN authorization or significant international support for its action greatly detracted from the criterion of legitimate authority.

 Legitimate Authority: -2


            A critique of right intent shows parallels to the criticisms about the 2011 intervention. Much of the opposition to the 1986 strikes centred about the American desire for regime change and the use of military force. The New York Times produced an article alleging that the bombing was the culmination of a five-year campaign designed by President Reagan to assassinate Qaddafi; a notion supported by additional evidence from US officials who admitted “ . . .we wanted to provoke Qaddafi into responding so we could stick it to him . . . ”.[vi] But the Chief of West German intelligence countered the evidence that Libya was connected to the Berlin bombing and stated that the United States had exaggerated the Libyan terrorist threat through propaganda, and had requested Egypt to invade Libya, and also purposely provoked a limited military engagement in the Gulf of Sidra in 1985.[vii] It is thus reasonable to suspect that military intervention and the potential for Qaddafi’s removal were not simply ulterior motives to countering terrorism, but primary motives.

Right Intent: -2


            Net benefit must be assessed against the stated objectives of the use of force, in this case the punishment and deterrence of terrorism. In the years following the bombings, evidence suggests that there was an overall reduction in the incidence and severity of terrorist actions against Americans.[viii] In the long term, Qaddafi’s gradual normalization of relations in the international community may have been spurred in part by the American threat of bombing and other unilateral diplomatic and economic actions, however, UN-sponsored sanctions beginning in 1992 likely played a greater role.[ix] It has been concluded that the limited bombing campaign achieved a degree of success relative to its stated aims.

 Net Benefit: +1


The last resort assessment draws heavily from the conclusions about right intent in that President Reagan’s decision to use force was the culmination of a much longer series of actions. In fact, the bombing marked a significant shift in US policy from dealing with terrorism strictly as a law enforcement issue to one of military deterrence. The policy shift was made owing to the ineffectiveness of a variety of other actions with respect to the core problem of Libyan state-sponsored terrorism. The lengthy campaign against Libya originated in 1982 with the imposition of a US ban on technology transfers and the import of oil in 1982.[x] The freezing of Libyan assets, severance of economic ties, and ordering Americans to leave Libya in early 1986 marked a steady progression to the use of force.[xi] However, internal debate within the US government prior to the strikes regarding whether or not all other options had been exhausted corroborate the conclusion that the decision to use force had been pre-determined and that negotiation was never considered as a serious option.

Last Resort: -1


            The assessment of right conduct is simplified owing to the brief duration and limited number of targets in the operation. The first set of targets centred about the integrated air defence sites that posed a clear threat to American aircraft. There were five additional targets spread between Benghazi and Tripoli that were described as C2, communications, intelligence, logistics, and training facilities directly related to terrorism.[xii] They included Qaddafi’s residential compound. Unfortunately, many of these sites were found in heavily populated areas thus increasing the risk of civilian casualties. The bombings were done at night in order to minimize risk to American aircraft. Recognizing the risk to civilians, the Americans selected the F-111 Aardvark as it was the most sophisticated and accurate bomber available. Strict ROEs were imposed requiring pilots to positively identify targets on multiple systems.[xiii] Despite these efforts, crew error resulted in a single stray bomb that landed near the French embassy killing 37 civilians and wounding another 93. Qaddafi declared that amongst the dead was Qaddafi’s adopted daughter. In a single night, casualties approached comparable figures to the entire seven-month campaign of Operation Unified Protector. While the technology at the time was less sophisticated, it may also be argued that there were other ways of deterring and punishing Qaddafi that represented less risk to the population. The targeting of isolated military installations would have served the purpose of both deterrence and punishment albeit less directly. The strategic effect of deterrence should have been afforded more weight relative to the specific punishment of terrorists given the potential for tragic outcomes. The loss of life, especially civilian, means the overall conduct was hardly commendable.

 Right Conduct: 0


            The final criterion, proportionality of means, offers a more positive result. The briefness of the conflict and the small number of targets provided for a strictly limited use of force. The targets selected demonstrated a desire to avoid significant destruction of the military or economic fabric of Libyan society.[xiv] While the total number of aircraft exceeded those used by the United Kingdom to conduct the entire Falkland Islands campaign, much of this was owed to the overly complicated logistics associated with conducting the operation based out of airfields in the United Kingdom thousands of kilometers away. The specific targeting of the Bab al-Aziziyah barracks in Tripoli did, however, present significant risk of unintended consequences. The barracks were considered the center of the terrorist C2 network, but were also the occasional home of the Qaddafi family.[xv] The home was specifically targeted resulting in the death and injury of several Qaddafi family members.[xvi] Had Qaddafi been killed, Libya would likely have been plunged into chaos, especially given the lack of strong governmental institutions and the absence of a proper political process for his replacement.


Proportionality of Means: +1

            Having assessed the two Libyan interventions, separated by a quarter century, their relative justness can be ascertained.


Comparing Two Conflicts


            The criteria scores from both cases are compiled in Table 1. The average of the scores, termed the Just War Index, reflects the notion that no war is likely to be seen as fully just or unjust. The JWI of +1.6 for the 2011 intervention indicates substantial ethical justness while the 1986 operation could not make it into the just category, though it was not substantially unjust either.

Table 1. Summary of Just War Criteria Scores for

Operations Eldorado Canyon (1986) and Unified Protector (2011)


Eldorado Canyon

Unified Protector

Just Cause



Legitimate Authority



Right Intent



Net Benefit



Last Resort



Right Conduct



Proportionality of Means



JWI (average)



JWI (as percentage, 0-100 scale)




Operation Eldorado Canyon differs remarkably from Unified Protector with regard to legitimate authority, right intent, and last resort. The unilateralist action of President Reagan was reflective of his “big stick diplomacy” approach to the international community. While unilateral action left him free of the complications of wielding an unruly coalition and catered to a domestic audience, it also resulted in leaving his administration open to considerable criticism for what was viewed as a penchant for the use of force over alternative means. Operation Eldorado Canyon enjoyed neither the legitimacy nor international legality afforded by UN authorization.

            By contrast, Operation Unified Protector was executed by a broad coalition of states presenting enormous political and logistical challenges but remaining in accordance with international law. The payoff was a broadly supported effort that enjoyed convincing legality and a much higher degree of legitimacy. While abstentions and the fundamentally flawed UNSC construct[xvii] (having rather arbitrary or self-centered veto power) undoubtedly reduced the degree of legitimacy its approval offered, the significant support provided by regional organizations largely offset this weakness, AU complaints notwithstanding. Last Resort was also significantly positive despite a hurried (three weeks) timeline from UNSC 1970 to the first bomb on target. The imminence of a potential genocide in Benghazi at the hands of a bellicose Qaddafi was averted only as a result of quick action on the parts of both the UNSC as well as the coalition which formed under difficult circumstances. Interestingly, Operation Unified Protector is weaker than Eldorado Canyon in two significant areas.

            Operation Eldorado Canyon’s limited scope was specifically designed to avoid creating a situation that would clearly necessitate continued US responsibility in Libya after the strike. Since there were few unintended consequences, both net benefit and proportionality of means were strong relative to the stated war aims. The limited scope was in part due to the need to avoid escalation and the potential for a larger confrontation with the Soviet Union. By contrast, in 2011 the shift from protection of civilians to the broader UNSC 1973 interpretation of regime change greatly complicated the intervention’s end game. While NATO was able to neatly extract itself, the United Nations was left with the more complex political implications that resulted from Qaddafi’s untimely death. The strength of the militias and the relative weakness of both the central government and UNSMIL leave the net benefit and proportionality of means categories incomplete and only marginally positive. There is, however, hope that these scores may increase provided UNSMIL and the Libyan government are able to gather strength, cease the widespread abuses being conducted by the militias, and implement a truly representative government for Libyans.

In attempting to assess the missions from a complete perspective, the average scores may be converted to a percentage value. By using a typical passing score of 50% (admittedly arbitrary) the overall justness of the two missions may be assessed in terms of pass/fail judgments.[xviii] By this measure, Operation Eldorado Canyon narrowly fails the ethical threshold of the Just War tradition at 48% while Operation Unified Protector easily passes at 79%.



[i]. William C. Martel, “1986 Raid on Libya,” in Victory in War: Foundations of Modern Military Policy (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 152.

[ii]. Henry W. Prunckun Jr., and Philip B. Mohr, “Military Deterrence of International Terrorism: An Evaluation of Operation El Dorado Canyon.” Studies in Conflict & Terrorism 20, issue 3 (July-September 1997): 3-5; (accessed 19 January 2012).

[iii]. Martel, 1986 Raid on Libya…, 158.

[iv]. United Nations General Assembly, Resolutions and Decisions Adopted by the General Assembly During Its Forty-First Session, 16 December–19 December 1986, A/41/53. (accessed 7 March 2012; Prunckun, “Military Deterrence of…”, 4.

[v]. United Nations Security Council, 2682nd Meeting, Minutes, S/PV.2682, 21 April 1986.;   accessed 7 March 2012; John Quigley, “Libya: Qaddafi’s Air Conditioner,” in The Ruses for War: American Interventionism Since World War II (Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1992), 224.

[vi]. Lyn Boyd-Judson, “The Lockerbie Negotiations: Granting the Enemy a Moral Universe,” in Strategic Moral Diplomacy: Understanding the Enemy’s Moral Universe (Sterling, VA: Kumarian Press, 2011), 68; Zoubir, Handbook of US . . ., 264.

[vii]. Boyd-Judson, “The Lockerbie Negotiations…”, 67; Quigley, “Libya: Qaddafi’s Air…”, 225; Martel, 1986 Raid on Libya…, 154.

[viii]. Prunckun, “Military Deterrence of…”, 4.

[ix]. Black, “Muammar Gaddafi and Libya…”, 256.

[x]. Zoubir, Handbook of US . . ., 264.

[xi]. Martel, 1986 Raid on Libya…, 154.

[xii]. Quigley, “Libya: Qaddafi’s Air…”, 223.

[xiii]. Judy G. Endicott, “Raid on Libya: Operation Eldorado Canyon,” in Short of War: Major USAF Contingency Operations 1947–1997, ed. A. Timothy Warnock, 145–155 (Washington, D.C.: Air University Press, 2000), 149–150.

[xiv]. Martel, 1986 Raid on Libya…, 158.

[xv]. Endicott, “Raid on Libya…”, 149.

[xvi]. Quigley, “Libya: Qaddafi’s Air…”, 228.

[xvii]. “Without Security Council Reform, UN Will Lose Credibility – General Assembly Chief,” UN News Centre, 16 May 2011. (accessed 21 April 2012.

[xviii]. A. Walter Dorn, “Warfighting, Counterinsurgency and Peacekeeping in Afghanistan: Three Strategies Examined in the Light of Just War Theory,” in War, Human Dignity and Nation Building: Theological Perspectives on Canada’s Role in Afghanistan, ed. Gary D. Badcock and Darren C. Marks, (Newcastle, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2011), 16–70.

Air Power Bibliography

 Air Power in UN Operations: A Bibliography

 A. Walter Dorn and Ryan Cross, July 2014

There is only one book devoted entirely to the subject:
Air Power in UN Operations: Wings for Peace.

The following bibliography captures almost all of the other scholarship on air power in UN operations, covering peacekeeping, peace enforcement and related areas.



      UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS external reviews)

Aerial observation

Air combat (peace enforcement)

UN operations (specific)

Peace operations and air power (general)

Peace operations and air power (military college papers)




Cozzolino, Alessandra. “Humanitarian Supply Chain Relationships: Working Together to Meet the Challenge of Preparing for and Responding to Disasters”. In Christopher, Martin, and Peter Tatham, eds., Humanitarian Logistics: Cross-Sector Cooperation in Disaster Relief Management, Springer Briefs in Business. Berlin: Springer, 2012, pp. 17-37. Online content available at:

European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO). “ECHO Flight.” European Community Humanitarian Office, 18 Apr. 2012. Available at:

European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO). Humanitarian Implementation Plan: Echo Flight. Brussels: European Commission, 28 September 2012. Available at:

Global Humanitarian Aviation Conference. “Global Humanitarian Aviation Conference”, 2011. Available at:

Jensen, Leif-Magnus. “Humanitarian Cluster Leads as Fourth-Party Logistics Providers”. In Advanced Manufacturing and Sustainable Logistics, edited by Wilhelm Dangelmaier et al., Lecture Notes in Business Information Processing 46. Berlin: Springer, 2010, pp. 372–383. Online content available at:

Nederveen, Gilles K. Van. USAF Airlift into the Heart of Darkness: the Congo 1960-1978 Implications for Modern Air Mobility Planners. Research Paper. Maxwell Air Force Base: Air University Airpower Research Institute, 2001. Available at:

Overstreet, Robert E. et al. “Research in Humanitarian Logistics”. Journal of Humanitarian Logistics and Supply Chain Management 1(2), 2011, pp. 114–131. Available at:

Potgieter, Hendrik A. P., and William P. Sass. “Logistical Air Power in UNTAG, UNAVEM II and ONUMOZ: Towards a New Doctrine”. In Use of Air Power in Peace Operations, edited by Carsten F. Rønnfeldt and Per Erik Solli. NUPI Peacekeeping and Multilateral Operations Papers 7. Oslo: Norsk Utenrikspolitisk Institutt [Norwegian Institute of International Affairs], 1997. Information available at:

Quinn, Emma. “Logistics for Food Assistance: Delivering Innovations in Complex Environments”. In Revolution: From Food Aid to Food Assistance – Innovations in Overcoming Hunger, edited by Steven Were Omamo, Ugo Gentilini, and Susanna Sandström, Rome: World Food Programme, 2010, pp. 307–328. Available at:

Taiwo, Phillip. “Air Transportation in Humanitarian Missions”. Thesis, New York: Peace Operations Training Institute, 2005. Available at:


UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS)

As noted, there are very few scholarly writings on the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS). The following provides a review of readily available material, mostly from UNHAS employees.

Carrasse, Pierre. “United Nations Humanitarian Air Service”. PowerPoint presented at the Global Logistics Cluster Meeting, Budapest, 23 Oct 2009. Available at:

Maslyukov, Oleh. “WFP Aviation: The Global Leader in Humanitarian Air Support”. PowerPoint presented at the 4th Global Humanitarian Aviation Conference, Dead Sea, 9 Oct 2012.

“Pierre Carrasse: Helping Humanity from the Air”. Flight International, 180(5306) Aug. 2011, p. 67.

World Food Programme. Annual Report of the World Food Programme for 2011 to the Economic and Social Council and the Council of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. United Nations Document E/2012/14. New York: United Nations Economic and Social Council, February 29, 2012. Available at:

World Food Programme. “Aviation”. Website Front-page. World Food Programme Logistics, 2012. Available at:

World Food Programme. “United Nations Humanitarian Air Service”. Website Front-page. World Food Programme Logistics, 2012. World Food Programme. WFP Aviation Review 2008. Rome: World Food Programme, 2009.

World Food Programme. WFP Aviation Annual Review 2009. Rome: World Food Programme, 2010. Available at:

World Food Programme. WFP Aviation Annual Review 2010. Rome: World Food Programme, 2011. Available at: Aviation Annual Review 2010.pdf

World Food Programme. WFP Aviation Annual Review 2011. Rome: World Food Programme, 2012. World Food Programme. Available at:

World Food Programme Aviation Transport Unit. World Food Programme Humanitarian Air Service. Rome: World Food Programme, September 2010.

World Food Programme Global Logistics Cluster. “Air Operations”. Global Logistics Operational Guide. Operational Environment, 2012. Available at:


UNHAS (external reviews)

Channel Research, John Telford, and Robert Thomson. Evaluation on the Provision of Air Transport in Support of Humanitarian Operations. Contract Report for the European Commission. Ohain (Belgium): Channel Research, 2010. Available at:

Channel Research, John Telford, and Robert Thomson. Review on the Provision of Air Transport in Support of Humanitarian Operations. Contract Report for the European Commission. Ohain (Belgium): Channel Research, 2010. Available at:

Joint Inspection Unit of the United Nations System. Review of the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS). JIU Note 2008-3. Geneva: United Nations, 2008. Available at:


Aerial observation

Dorn, A. Walter. Keeping Watch: Monitoring, Technology and Innovation in UN Peace Operations. Tokyo: United Nations University Press, 2011. Available at:

Peter, Jones. “Peacekeeping and Aerial Surveillance”. Peacekeeping and International Relations 22(2), 1993, pp. 3–4.

Peter, Jones. “Peacekeeping and Aerial Surveillance II: From Yemen to the End of the Cold War”. Peacekeeping and International Relations 22(5), 1993, pp. 3–5.

Peter, Jones. “Peacekeeping and Aerial Surveillance III: The Post Cold War Era”. Peacekeeping and International Relations 23(4), 1994.


Air combat (peace enforcement)

Allard, C. Kenneth. Somalia Operations: Lessons Learned. Washington: National Defense University Press, 1995. Available at:

Barrie, Douglas. “Libya’s Lessons: The Air Campaign”. Survival 54(6), 2012, pp. 57–65. Available at:

Benard, Alexander. “Lessons from Iraq and Bosnia on the Theory and Practice of No-fly Zones”. Journal of Strategic Studies 27(3), 2004, pp. 454–478. Available at:

Byman, Daniel L., and Matthew C. Waxman. “Kosovo and the Great Air Power Debate”. International Security 24(4), 2000, pp. 5–38. Available at:

Casper, Lawrence E. Falcon Brigade: Combat and Command in Somalia and Haiti. Boulder: Lynne Rienner, 2001. Online content available at:

Corum, James S. “Airpower and Peace Enforcement”. Airpower Journal 10(4), 1996, pp. 10–25. Available at:

Cullen, T. C.. “Saving Darfur: Seductive Analogies and the Limits of Airpower Coercion in Sudan” Strategic Studies Quarterly 3(2), 2009, pp. 72-98. Available at:

De Cock, Chris. “Operation Unified Protector and the Protection of Civilians in Libya”. In Yearbook of International Humanitarian Law, edited by Michael N. Schmitt and Louise Arimatsu. The Hague: T. M. C. Asser Press, 2011, pp. 213–235. Available at:

Franke, B. F. (2004). “The Use of Sustained Coercive Air Power in Humanitarian Interventions”. Journal of Humanitarian Assistance, December 2004.

Gertler, Jeremiah et al. No-Fly Zones: Strategic, Operational, and Legal Considerations for Congress. CRS Report for Congress R41701 Washington: Congressional Research Service, April 2011. Available at:

Grant, Rebecca. The Kosovo Campaign: Aerospace Power Made It Work. Air Force Association Special Report. Arlington: The Air Force Association, September 1999. Available at:

Jakobsen, Peter Viggo, and Karsten Jakob Møller. “Good News: Libya and the Danish Way of War”. In Danish Foreign Policy Yearbook 2012, edited by Nanna Hvidt and Hans Mouritzen. Copenhagen: Danish Institute for International Studies, 2012, pp. 106–130. Available at:

Laborie, Geraud J. The Diplomacy of the Jaguar: French Airpower in Postcolonial African Conflicts. The Wright Flyer Papers 39. Maxwell Air Force Base: Air Command and Staff College, Air University, March 2009.

Nils E. Naastad. “Policing the British Empire from the Air”. In Use of Air Power in Peace Operations, edited by Carsten F. Rønnfeldt and Per Erik Solli. NUPI Peacekeeping and Multilateral Operations Papers 7. Oslo: Norsk Utenrikspolitisk Institutt [Norwegian Institute of International Affairs], 1997. Information available at:

Quintana, Elizabeth. “The War from the Air”. In Short War, Long Shadow: The Political and Military Legacies of the 2011 Libya Campaign, edited by Adrian Johnson and Saqeb Mueen, RUSI Whitehall Report 1-12. London: Royal United Services Institute, 2012, pp. 31–40. Available at:

Solli, Per Erik. UN and NATO Air Power in the Former Yugoslavia. NUPI Report 209. Oslo: Norsk Utenrikspolitisk Institutt [Norwegian Institute of International Affairs], 1996. Information available at:

Schmitt, Michael N. “Wings over Libya: The No-Fly Zone in Legal Perspective”. Yale Journal of International Law Online 36, Spring 2011, pp. 45–58. Available at:

Solli, Per Erik. “Bosnia: Deterrence Failed and Coercion Worked”. In Use of Air Power in Peace Operations, edited by Carsten F. Rønnfeldt and Per Erik Solli. NUPI Peacekeeping and Multilateral Operations Papers 7. Oslo: Norsk Utenrikspolitisk Institutt [Norwegian Institute of International Affairs], 1997. Information available at:


UN operations: specific

Dorn, A. Walter. “Intelligence-led Peacekeeping: The United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), 2006–07”. Intelligence and National Security 24(6), 2009, pp. 805–835. Available at:

Hirsch, John L., and Robert B. Oakley. Somalia and Operation Restore Hope: Reflections on Peacemaking and Peacekeeping. Washington: United States Institute of Peace Press, 1995. Available at:

Homan, Kees. “Operation Artemis in the Democratic Republic of Congo”. In Faster and More United?: the Debate about Europe’s Crisis Response Capacity, edited by Andrea Ricci, Eero Kytoèmaa, and European Communities Commission Directorate General for External Relations. Brussels: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, 2007, pp. 151–155. Available at:

Klevberg, Harvard. “Logistical and Combat Air Power in ONUC”. In Use of Air Power in Peace Operations, edited by Carsten F. Rønnfeldt and Per Erik Solli. NUPI Peacekeeping and Multilateral Operations Papers 7. Oslo: Norsk Utenrikspolitisk Institutt [Norwegian Institute of International Affairs], 1997. Information available at:

Kochhar, M. R. United Nations Peacekeeping and Operations in Somalia. Gurgaon: Dipika Kochhar, 2000. Information available at:

Lindley, Dan. “UNDOF [United Nations Disengagement Observer Force in the Golan Heights]: operational analysis and lessons learned”. Defense & Security Analysis 20(2), 2004, pp. 153–164. Available at:

Lourié, Sylvain. “The United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan”. International Organization 9(1), 1955, pp. 19–31.

United Nations. The Blue Helmets: a Review of United Nations Peace-Keeping. 3rd ed. New York: United Nations Department of Public Information, 1996. Information available at:

United Nations Peacekeeping Best Practices Unit Military Division. Operation Artemis: The Lessons of the Interim Emergency Multinational Force. New York: United Nations Peacekeeping Best Practices Unit, October 2004. Available at:


Peace operations and air power (general)

Baier, Frederick L., and Department of the Air Force. Military Operations Other Than War. Air Force Doctrine Document 2-3. Maxwell Air Force Base: Air University, Curtis E. LeMay Center for Doctrine Development and Education, July 2000. Available at:

Bash, Brooks L. “Air Power and Peacekeeping”. Airpower Journal 9(1), 1995. Available at:

Casagrande, E. E. “Peace Operations: The Air Force Contribution”. Small Wars & Insurgencies 7(3), 1996, pp. 378–400. Available at:

Cooper, Allan. “Multinational force and observers—Establishment of the Canadian Rotary Wing Aviation Unit”. Canadian Defence Quarterly 19(1), 1989, pp. 37–46.

Lin-Greenberg, Erik. “Airpower in Peace Operations Re-examined”. International Peacekeeping 18(4), 2011, pp. 439–453. Available at:

Haun, Phil M. “The Nature of Close Air Support in Low Intensity Conflict”. Air and Space Power Journal 20(3), 2006, pp. 107–110. Available at

Hillen, John. “Peacekeeping at the Speed of Sound: The Relevancy of Airpower Doctrine in Operations Other than War”. Airpower Journal 12(4), 1998, p. 11. Available at:

Knutsen, Tom H. R., and Fred G. Sotthewes. Air Competence: The Use of Airpower in Peace Operations. Research Report. Maxwell Air Force Base: Air University, April 1996.

Krepon, Michael, and Jeffrey P. Tracey. “Open Skies’ and UN peacekeeping”. Survival 32(3), 1990, pp. 251–263. Available at:

Lindley, Dan. “Cooperative airborne monitoring: Opening the skies to promote peace, protect the environment, and cope with natural disasters”. Contemporary Security Policy 27(2), 2006, pp. 325–343. Available at:

March, William. “The Royal Canadian Air Force and Peacekeeping”. In Peacekeeping, 1815 to Today: Proceedings of the XXIst Colloquium of the International Commission of Military History, edited by Serge Bernier, 467–477. Proceedings of the International Commission of Military History 21. Ottawa: Canadian Department of National Defence Directorate of History, 1995. Information available at:

Metz, Steven. “The Air Force Role in United Nations Peacekeeping”. Airpower Journal 7(4), 1993, pp. 68–75. Available at:

Owen, Robert C. “Aerospace Power and Land Power in Peace Operations: Toward a New Basis for Synergy”. Airpower Journal 13(3), 1999, pp. 4–22. Available at:

Peifer, Douglas Carl. “Genocide and Airpower”. Strategic Studies Quarterly 2(2), 2008, pp. 93–124. Available at:

———, ed. Stopping Mass Killings in Africa: Genocide, Airpower, and Intervention. Maxwell Air Force Base: Air University Press, 2008. Online content available at:

Raffetto, Mark. “Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Contributions to Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Missions for Expeditionary Operations”. Thesis, Monterey: Naval Postgraduate School, 2004. Available at:

Rønnfeldt, Carsten F., and Per Erik Solli, eds. Use of Air Power in Peace Operations. NUPI Peacekeeping and Multilateral Operations Papers 7. Oslo: Norsk Utenrikspolitisk Institutt [Norwegian Institute of International Affairs], 1997. Information available at:

Sherman, Jake, Alischa Kugel, and Andrew Sinclair. “Overcoming Helicopter Force Generation Challenges for UN Peacekeeping Operations”. International Peacekeeping 19(1), 2012, pp. 77–92. Available at:

Teager, John F. N. Blessed be the Peacemakers: Conflict, Peace and Air Power. Fellowship Paper 12. Royal Australian Air Force Base Fairbairn: Air Power Studies Centre, 1996. Available at:

Tilford, Earl H. “Operation Allied Force and the Role of Air Power”. Parameters 29(4), 1999, pp. 24–38. Available at:

Tirpark, John A. “With Stealth in the Balkans”. Air Force Magazine, Oct. 1999, pp. 22–28.


Peace operations and air power (military college papers)

As shown below, there was a brief “surge” of writing on this subject by Air Force officers in the early-to-mid-1990s during the brief period when peacekeeping was considered a central interest of western states—in particular of the US military. It covers both peacekeeping and peace enforcement.

Beale, Michael O., “Bombs Over Bosnia: The Role of Airpower in Bosnia-Herzegovina”, Thesis, School of Advanced Airpower Studies, Air University, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, June 1996. Available at:

Brooks, James J. “Operation Provide Promise: The JFACC’s Role in Humanitarian Assistance in a Non-Permissive Environment—A Case Study”. Thesis, Newport (RI): Naval War College, 1996. Available at:

Buer, Eric F. “United Task Force Somalia (UNITAF) and United Nations Operations Somalia (UNOSOM II): A Comparative Analysis of Offensive Air Support”. Thesis, Quantico: Marine Corps Command and Staff College, 2001. Available at:

Chavez, Robert M. “Basic and Operational Doctrine for Airpower in Irregular Warfare”. Fort Leavenworth, Kansas: School of Advanced Military Studies, United States Army Command and General Staff College, 2007. Available at:

Cross, Michael E. “The Role of Airpower in Peace Operations”. Thesis, Newport (RI): Naval War College, 1996. Available at:

Elder, R. W. “The Role of Non-Lethal Airpower in Future Peace Operations: Beyond Bombs On Target”. Thesis, Maxwell Air Force Base: Air University, 2003. Available at:

Francis, David J. “The Promise and the Peril of the Responsibility to Protect”. Strategy Research Project, Carlisle Barracks, PA: United States Army War College, 2012. Available at:

Francis, William W. “Coercive Air Strategy in Post-Cold War Peace Operations”. Thesis, Maxwell Air Force Base: School of Advanced Airpower Studies, Air University, 1999. Available at:

Hicks, J. M. “Fire in the City Airpower in Urban, Smaller-Scale Contingencies”. Thesis, Maxwell Air Force Base: School of Advanced Airpower Studies, Air University, 1999. Available at:

Hund, Matthew J. “United States Air Force Role in Mass Atrocity Response Operations”. Monograph, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas: School of Advanced Military Studies, United States Army Command and General Staff College, 2012. Available at:

Kramlinger, George D. “Sustained Coercive Air Presence: Provide Comfort, Deny Flight, and the Future of Airpower in Peace Enforcement”. Thesis, Maxwell Air Force Base: School of Advanced Airpower Studies, Air University, 2001. Available at:

Lawrence, David F. “The Alliance Decides the Mission? Multilateral Decision Making at the UN and NATO on Libya, 2010-2011”. Thesis, Monterey: Naval Postgraduate School, 2012. Available at:

Markland, Thomas A. “Airpower in Irregular Warfare”. Research Report, Maxwell Air Force Base: Air War College, Air University, 2009. Available at:

Morrison, Douglas J. “Tactical Reconnaissance in Peace Operations: Implications for the Future”. Thesis, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas: School of Advanced Military Studies, United States Army Command and General Staff College, 1993. Available at:

O’Dell, Robert (Wing Commander).The Utility Of Airborne Knowledge Based Influence in Support of International Stabilisation Operations”, Thesis for a Master of Philosophy, Cambridge University, UK, 31 July 2012.

Rember, W. Bruce. “Wings for Peace: Air Power in Peacemaking Operations”. Thesis, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas: School of Advanced Military Studies, United States Army Command and General Staff College, 1992. Available at:

Tubbs, James O. “Beyond Gunboat Diplomacy: Forceful Applications of Airpower in Peace Enforcement Operations”. Thesis, Maxwell Air Force Base: School of Advanced Airpower Studies, Air University, 1995. Available at:

Walker, Gregory D. “Army Aviation’s Role In Peace Operations”. Strategy Research Project, Carlisle Barracks, PA: United States Army War College, 1996. Available at:


Air Power in UN Operations: Wings for Peace

Air Power in UN Operations: Wings for Peace

Edited by A. Walter Dorn
Ashgate Publishing, 2014

Air-Power-in-UN-Operations Cover Dorn 300x448 65K

Air power for warfighting is a story that’s been told many times. Air power for peacekeeping and UN enforcement is a story that desperately needs to be told. For the first-time, this volume covers the fascinating range of aerial peace functions. In rich detail it describes: aircraft transporting vital supplies to UN peacekeepers and massive amounts of humanitarian aid to war-affected populations; aircraft serving as the “eyes in sky” to keep watch for the world organization; and combat aircraft enforcing the peace. Rich poignant case studies illuminate the past and present use of UN air power, pointing the way for the future. This book impressively fills the large gap in the current literature on peace operations, on the United Nations and on air power generally. 

Website:  (full contents by chapter)

Complete book: pdf (large text, 3.2 MB)



Foreword  Roméo Dallaire
Preface [pdf excerpt published in Vanguard Canada]

PART I  The UN’s First “Air Force”: Congo
1    Planning, Organizing, and Commanding the Air Operation in the Congo, 1960  William K. Carr
2    Peacekeepers in Combat: UN Fighter Jets and Bombers in the Congo, 1961–1963  A. Walter Dorn
3    A Fine Line: Use of Force, the Cold War, and Canada’s Air Support for the UN Organization in the Congo   Kevin A. Spooner

PART II  Airlift: Lifeline for UN Missions
4    Above the Rooftop of the World: Canadian Air Operations in Kashmir and along the India–Pakistan Border   Matthew Trudgen
5    Humanitarian Relief in Haiti 2010: Honing the Partnership between the US Air Force and the UN   Robert C. Owen
6    Flying Humanitarians: The UN Humanitarian Air Service   A. Walter Dorn and Ryan W. Cross (html)

PART III  Aerial Surveillance: Eyes in the Sky
7    Aerial Surveillance: Eyes in the Sky   A. Walter Dorn
8    UN Observer Group in Lebanon: Aerial Surveillance during a Civil War, 1958  A. Walter Dorn (html)
9    Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Supporting UN Operations: A Commercial Service Model   David Neil

PART IV  The UN and No-fly Zones
10  The UN Iraq–Kuwait Observer Mission and the Southern No-fly Zone, 1991–2003   James McKay
11  Observing Air Power at Work in Sector Sarajevo 1993–1994: A Personal Account   F. Roy Thomas

PART V  Combat: Enforcing the Peace

12    Air Operations in Somalia: “Black Hawk Down” Revisited   William T. Dean III
13   Operation Deliberate Force in Bosnia 1995: Humanitarian Constraints In Aerospace Warfare   Robert C. Owen
14   Combat Air Power in the Congo, 2003–   A. Walter Dorn
15   Allied Air Power over Libya   Christian F. Anrig

PART VI  Evolving Capabilities
16    Advances in Aviation for UN Peacekeeping: A View from UN Headquarters   Kevin Shelton-Smith
17    Peace from Above: Envisioning the Future of UN Air Power   Robert David Steele

Afterword: Some Reflections


‘I welcome this unique volume on air power in UN operations. It provides a close look at the ways peacekeeping and enforcement can be facilitated from the air. It provides an impressive and wide-ranging examination of air power applications from the past and points to how these can be made more effective in the future.’
     – Lieutenant-General The Hon. Roméo A. Dallaire (retired)

‘Combining rigorous analysis with compelling first-hand experience, and awareness of new technologies with deft appreciation of history, this book provides a compelling account of the use of air power in UN operations which provides both rich insight into its possibilities and frank advice about its limitations and management. Comprehensive and authoritative, it will be core reading for analysts and practitioners alike for years to come.’
     – Alex J. Bellamy, Griffith University, Australia and International Peace Institute

‘Since 1945 when the United Nations was created in San Francisco, nations often look to this international organization to keep or restore global peace. Professor Walter Dorn’s outstanding anthology provides a much needed examination of the UN’s air power capabilities for global intervention to halt war-fighting. He and his expert colleagues address, lucidly and with fresh insights, several case studies in which UN air power has played a role in peacekeeping; they examine such key questions as how and under what circumstances the UN has used air power, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of this approach.’
     – Loch K. Johnson, University of Georgia, USA

‘This authoritative volume is a one-of-a-kind reference tool on aviation in peace operations, from logistics to combat, from the Sixties to the present. Using primary sources and personal narrative, it is deeply knowledgeable at both the operational and tactical levels of this important and under-studied subject.’
     – William J. Durch, The Stimson Center, Washington DC, USA


Early Reviews



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© Walter Dorn, 2014

Note: The book editor, Dr. Walter Dorn, is the copyright holder for the material in the book but has waived his right to royalties and seeks no monetary benefit from sales of the book. His goal is to disseminate knowledge and research that will be of interest to readers and of benefit to the United Nations.

Book LaunchUniversity of Toronto, 16 September 2014

: Front (various sizes, html) (pdf, 2 MB);  Back (pdf, 2 MB)

Canada moves further from peacekeeping

Canada moves further from peacekeeping

A. Walter Dorn

Originally published in The Toronto Star, 29 December 2013,
under the editor-designed (mis)title of “Canada evolves from peacekeeper to war-fighter.”


In recent years, Canada has turned away from a long and widely lauded tradition of peacekeeping.

After almost two decades of service to Canada and the world, the Pearson Centre, formerly known as the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre, is shutting its doors this month.

The Centre was established in 1994 by the Government of Canada and became the flagship of the nation’s commitment to UN peacekeeping, providing world-class training to peacekeepers from Canada and around the globe.

But government funding cuts in recent years have forced the centre to reduce and then cease all its mission activities. Despite efforts to seek other sources of revenue, the funding gap created by the loss of federal support could not be filled.

The demise of the Pearson Centre is the latest evidence of the government’s neglect of UN peacekeeping. Why has the government of Stephen Harper rejected this widely supported Canadian military tradition that every other prime minister since St. Laurent has embraced?

Virtually all Canadians can tell you that Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson proposed the first peacekeeping force, which moved the world back from war in the 1956 Suez Crisis, winning Pearson the Nobel Peace Prize.

From that time onward, until the mid-1990s, Canada was the largest contributor of peacekeepers and the only country to have contributed to every UN mission. From Kashmir to the Congo, from Bosnia to Ethiopia, Canadian soldiers were at the forefront of world order, contributing to peace in war-torn lands.

This accomplishment is recognized by the Canadian Peacekeeping Service Medal; it is immortalized by the National Peacekeeping Monument in Ottawa; and even the $10-bill features a soldier wearing the iconic blue beret under a banner reading “Au Service de la Paix — In the Service of Peace.” The new issue of the bill has lost the image and the concept.

More sadly, Canada is a prolific peacekeeper no more. While Canada once contributed 3,000 military personnel to peacekeeping, it currently provides only 60 — as a friend says, just enough to fill a school bus. How did this happen?

First under the Liberals, and then dramatically extended by the Conservatives, Canada turned away from peacekeeping to war-fighting, spending billions of dollars in an unsuccessful bid to defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan. The Canadian Forces became a single-mission military with Afghanistan as the sole focus of attention. Operating in that one foreign country, more Canadian blood and treasure was spent in one decade than in six decades of peacekeeping in over 40 countries.

To make matters worse, our military is actually forgetting how to do peacekeeping. Over the past decade, the Canadian Forces permitted a major decline in training and education for peacekeeping or peace support operations (PSOs) in Canadian military parlance and doctrine. The Canadian Forces stopped sending soldiers to the Pearson Centre. And the closure of the Pearson Centre means that Canadian soldiers will lose the future opportunity to train on multi-dimensional peace operations alongside civilians and foreign officers.

Some might argue that the combat mission in Kandahar, Afghanistan, gave CF personnel valuable experience in combat and counter-insurgency operations. There are some similarities between these types of missions and international peace operations but peacekeeping is more complex and challenging than war-fighting.

War and counter-insurgency missions are enemy-centric, non-consensual and primarily involve offensive strategy, whereas peacekeeping is based on a trinity of principles: impartiality; consent of the main conflicting parties; and a defensive approach to the use of force — though robust peace enforcement action, and even combat, are sometimes required.

In fact, had Canadian troops in Afghanistan been better trained in peacekeeping along with their combat skills, their contribution in that country might have been much more successful than it was. Special skills including negotiation, conflict management and resolution, as well as an understanding of UN procedures and past peacekeeping missions, would have been valuable to troops left to navigate their way through that complex and chaotic environment of Kandahar.

A concerted effort is needed to revitalize the peacekeeping skills of the Canadian Forces if it is to constructively help the United Nations in a conflict-ridden world. Peacekeeping advances both Canada’s national values and our interests by enhancing a stable, peaceful and rules-based international order.

There is a constant need for well trained and equipped peacekeepers. Canada’s return to peacekeeping would be embraced by the United Nations and the international community. Such a development could help our country gain more influence, including a future seat in the UN Security Council, and give Canadians something even more important: a sense of renewed pride in the nation’s contribution to a better, more peaceful world.


A. Walter Dorn is a professor of defence studies at the Royal Military College and the Canadian Forces College. He is editor of the forthcoming volume Air Power in UN Peace Operations: Wings for Peace.



Canada and Cluster Munitions

Shameless: Canada’s cluster bomb policy

Walter Dorn

Originally published online by iPOLITICS on 6 December 2013.
This article is based on testimony provided to
Canada’s House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development
on 21 November 2013 (transcript: En, Fr).


In December 1997, Canadian leadership on the international stage rose to new heights with the signing by over 100 nations of the Ottawa Treaty, which comprehensively banned anti-personnel mines.

Eleven years later, and five years ago this week, Canada signed the next major disarmament treaty, the Convention on Cluster Munitions, to help end the suffering caused by those inhumane weapons. Like landmines, cluster munitions are infamous for killing and maiming civilians not only during conflicts but for many years afterwards.

But Canada has yet to ratify the ban — five years after signing it. The implementing legislation is now before the House of Commons after passing through the Senate last year.

The long delay was due, in part, to a struggle between officials in the newly named Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD) and the Department of National Defence (DND). The latter wants to make sure that Canadian soldiers working with the United States can still retain the ability to carry out activities that most countries agree are prohibited by treaty.

The current legislation contains an astonishing section that undermines the goals of the treaty. Bill C-6 is now in the committee stages where, hopefully, amendments can remove this flaw in the legislation. Because of Section 11, the current legislation is contrary to both the spirit and the letter of the Cluster Munitions treaty. Thus, the draft legislation will not achieve Canada’s goal of a total ban on cluster munitions unless it is amended.

All Canadian political parties agree that it is high time for the world to send cluster munitions to the trash bin of history, there to languish beside horrendous tools of war like chemical weapons, biological weapons and dum-dum bullets. Civilians make up the vast majority of cluster bomb casualties (98 per cent of recorded casualties, according to Handicap International).

To achieve this much-needed ban, the treaty is categorical and direct in its obligations: a state party may “never under any circumstance” use or assist in the use of these inhumane weapons. Given the indiscriminate nature of cluster munitions and the extraordinary threat posed to civilians from the unexploded bomblets that these weapons regularly leave behind, all political parties should agree upon a total ban. But they do not.

The Conservatives have backed the lawyers from the Judge Advocate General (JAG) and so far have supported the completely out-of-place Section 11 of the bill. The government has called a special session of the Foreign Affairs Committee to hear arguments on Section 11. Having testified before this committee, I strongly hope that they will eliminate or amend the paragraphs that would undermine Canada’s full implementation of the Convention.

The current wording in Section 11 allows for exemptions to be made in cases of “cooperation” with an ally not obligated by the Convention, assumed to be the United States. Thus, under Bill C-6, members of the Canadian Forces are, in the words of the legislation, not prohibited from “aiding and abetting”, “directing or authorizing”, “conspiring with” or “requesting” the use of these abhorrent weapons during operations with a non-party. The inclusion of this section, as it stands, presents two major problems.

First, it takes an extreme interpretation of the treaty. The Convention on Cluster Munitions only re-affirms that states parties “may engage in military cooperation” with states non-party. It allows parties to serve in a coalition in which some members might use cluster munitions but it does not give any authorization for the use or assistance in the use by the state parties. This understanding of a complete prohibition “under any circumstance” is the view of a great many states, international lawyers, civil society organizations and Canada’s main negotiator of the convention, who resigned in protest over the re-interpretation.

The second problem is that the exceptions in Section 11 are fundamentally unnecessary. The scenarios involving cluster munitions are exceedingly limited, especially since the Convention is signed by most members of the international community, and of NATO. More importantly, difficult scenarios could be dealt with in ways that do not contravene the convention.

In testifying before the Foreign Affairs Committee, I reminded the committee that individuals in a multilateral chain of command can recuse themselves (that is, temporarily remove themselves) so that an order to use cluster munitions would avoid involving and implicating Canadian personnel. Also, in combined operations, Canada may enter a national caveat to prevent direct assistance with cluster munitions. Such caveats are common and are routinely dealt with by commanders to ensure respect for national prerogatives.

Some specific scenarios can be considered: If Canadians were in a coalition operation, the U.S. might have to ensure that any U.S. aircraft that might be needed for close-air-support do not carry only cluster munitions but other munitions as well. Logistical issues such as air-to-air refueling in such situations could be covered by U.S. means rather than by Canada, and training exercises can be designed so that any cluster munitions used are not done as part of combined operations but are completely separate. In all cases, under the Convention, Canada already has an obligation to notify the U.S. and others of Canadian commitments regarding cluster bombs.

For these two primary reasons, Section 11 should be amended or removed. By taking such action, Canada will not only fulfill the provisions of the Convention it signed, but will also encourage non-parties to accept or accede to the Convention, something that I hope US will do in the near future.

The concerns and difficulties raised in the paragraphs of Bill C-6 are not new to Canadian efforts in humanitarian disarmament. A workable solution was found for landmines. Sixteen years ago, following the signing of the Ottawa Treaty (which the United States never signed), Canada passed legislation to allow it to participate in military activities with non-parties, so long as Canadians were not “actively assisting” in prohibited activities. That legislative model has worked in the case of the landmines treaty, and it can work for Canada on cluster munitions.

There is a purpose behind the clear and uncompromising wording in main prohibition (Article 1) of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which obligates countries that ratify to never under any circumstances use cluster munitions. Like anti-personnel mines, these are indiscriminate and barbaric weapons. There can be no room for loopholes or half-measures.

I strongly hope that Parliament will amend Bill C-6 to reflect a Canadian commitment to both the spirit and the letter of the Convention and help the world finally put these devices into the trash bin with history’s inhumane most weapons.


Dr. Walter Dorn is a professor of Defence Studies at the Royal Military College and the Canadian Forces College.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by all iPolitics columnists and contributors are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of iPolitics.

Eyes On the Green Line: Surveillance in Cyprus Peacekeeping Force

 Electronic Eyes on the Green Line:
Surveillance by the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus


 Originally published in Intelligence and National Security, Vol. 29, Iss. 2, pp.184–207 (2014).
(INS online, 2013) (pdf)


ABSTRACT The 1974 Cypriot War divided the island of Cyprus into two parts with a narrow demilitarized zone (DMZ) between the opposing Greek Cypriot and Turkish forces. The volatility and violence in this zone, called the ‘Green Line’, necessitated a constant UN peacekeeping presence that was achieved mainly with manned observation posts (OPs). About 150 of these posts were established by 1975 to maintain stability and prevent flare-ups, including any lethal exchanges between the two sides. By the early 1990s, many of the countries contributing peacekeepers to the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) had become tired of the stalemate and the lack of progress in negotiations (peacemaking), so they withdrew their troops from the force. This necessitated a reduction in the number of constantly manned OPs from 51 in 1992 to 21 in mid-1993. Further downsizing of UNFICYP by the UN Security Council in 2004 gave rise to a new approach to monitor the DMZ and produce actionable intelligence. Cameras were installed in hot-spots in the Nicosia DMZ and more responsive patrols were introduced as part of the new ‘concentration with mobility’ concept. This was the first time a UN peace operation used unattended cameras to monitor a demilitarized zone. This article examines the UN’s difficulties and successes using the remote cameras, especially during important incidents. Other technologies that aided UNFICYP are also reviewed for lessons that might assist an under-equipped United Nations in its watchkeeping function.



The United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) is the oldest UN peacekeeping force still in operation.1  This longevity is one indication that the mission has become a ‘victim of its own success’: the peacekeeping has been highly effective in creating stability but no viable political solution has been found. After a near success in achieving a negotiated settlement in 2004, the United Nations sought to send a strong signal to the parties that UNFICYP was not a permanent fixture. The Security Council reduced the size of the force by one-third, forcing the mission to find an innovative technological solution to monitor some troubled areas; it replaced manned observation posts with unmanned surveillance cameras. In so doing, it became the first UN peacekeeping operation to use 24-hour camera surveillance to monitor a conflict zone.

In this and other ways, the historical evolution of UNFICYP’s monitoring function from its early days to the present offers a rich case study providing lessons applicable to other UN operations. It is ironic that one of the UN’s oldest missions has developed some of the UN’s most creative and technologically advanced solutions to common peacekeeping problems. Given the dearth of scholarship on technology as a means of intelligence-gathering in peacekeeping, this case study provides a useful validation that can be applied to other modern missions. 2


UNFICYP was created on 4 March 1964 to quell fighting between Greek and Turkish communities in areas across Cyprus.3  Some of the most intense fighting occurred in the capital, Nicosia. To facilitate a ceasefire, a British general drew a line on a Nicosia map with a green marker and thus the term ‘Green Line’ came to designate the area that separated the opposing forces, called OPFORs. The UN force soon restored stability, though violent flare-ups occurred sporadically. By May 1974 a confident UNFICYP was able to reduce its size from the original 1964 strength of 6400 to 2300 personnel.4  This glimmer of hope, however, was short-lived. In July 1974 a sudden coup d’etat by Greek Cypriot National Guard (NG) forces advocating enosis, or union of Cyprus with Greece, triggered an invasion from Turkey in support of the Turkish minority. In New York, UN headquarters was at a loss and could give the UNFICYP Commander, Lieutenant-General Prem Chand, little direction other than to ‘play it by ear and do his best to limit violence and protect civilians’.5  UNFICYP performed this duty heroically by many accounts, limiting the ravages of war and saving many lives,6  but not without sustaining casualties – 74 UN soldiers were shot during and shortly after the 1974 war, of which nine were killed and 65 wounded.7  When the smoke of the 1974 Cypriot War finally cleared, Cyprus was a divided island with Turkey controlling the northern third and the Greeks controlling the southern two-thirds, as shown in Figure 1. The British still hung on to their Sovereign Base Areas (SBA) while Nicosia, which had been split between the two protagonists in 1964, became effectively partitioned by higher walls and impenetrable bunkers seemingly frozen in time. To date Nicosia remains the only divided capital in the world.8


 EyesOnGreenLine-UNFICYP-Cyprus Fig1 From-pdf Nov2013


The Evolving Monitoring Function

The 1974 war significantly altered UNFICYP’s monitoring function. For the previous decade Cyprus had been divided into seven large regions each patrolled by a UN contingent, focusing on areas where Greek and Turkish communities clashed. The 1974 war extended the ‘green’ or dividing line across the entire length of Cyprus from east to west. Along this 180 km line two heavily-armed opposing forces (OPFORs) faced each other, separated by a buffer zone (BZ) that ranged in width from 7 km in rural areas to a few metres at points in Nicosia. Constant monitoring of this BZ and the forward positions, called ceasefire lines (CFLs), of both the Greek and Turkish forces, helped prevent moves forward by either side. UN patrolling played an important role, as before the war, though now it was focused entirely on the Green Line across the island, as opposed to the dispersed communities. The war had triggered a massive population redistribution. UNFICYP estimates that 165,000 Greek Cypriots fled the newly created northern Turkish sector for the southern Greek-controlled territory and 45,000 Turkish Cypriots left the southern Greek sector for the Turkish north.9  Cyprus became an island divided not only by the Green Line but also by geographic ethnicity. The south of the island became almost entirely Greek and the north predominantly Turkish. The BZ that separated the opposing forces became UNFICYP’s responsibility. Moreover, volatility in the BZ required UNFICYP not only to patrol vigorously but also to erect and permanently man a long string of observation posts to affect constant surveillance.

Observation posts (OPs) proliferated after the 1974 war and played a crucial role in UNFICYP’s monitoring function along the Green Line. Though the war ended without an official ceasefire agreement between the parties, UNFICYP delineated the forward positions of the OPFORs upon the cessation of hostilities. Maintaining these ceasefire lines, as they came to be called, became a crucial UNFICYP function. This involved detecting and if possible preventing moves forward by either side. Any such moves were regarded as violations of the ceasefire ‘arrangement’. Constant surveillance of the BZ using OPs and patrols was essential to deter, detect, and respond to such infractions.

OPs performed another crucial function besides constant surveillance: they enhanced stability. Especially during the aftermath of the 1974 war, there were many areas along the Green Line where shouting, rock throwing, and shooting incidents occurred frequently between the OPFORs. To have several ‘shot reports’ a day in the Canadian area of responsibility (Sector 3, which included Nicosia) was not uncommon.10  Areas of such sensitivity required a constant ‘blue beret presence’ to prevent escalation from shouting to shooting. Even with the presence of a UN OP, however, it was not uncommon for the posted UN soldiers to be unable to contain a difficult situation. They would then call a UN patrol to the area to help restore stability. The constant monitoring and pacification carried out by permanently manned OPs all along the Green Line became indispensable. By June 1975, UNFICYP had 148 OPs11  and the OP tradition became a dominant aspect of the force’s modus operandi.

While this style of peacekeeping proved successful, the peacemaking – or negotiation of a settlement – was painstakingly slow and a political solution remained elusive. The parties did agree in 1977 that a settlement would take the form of a bizonal, bicommunal federal state, but then made little progress towards achieving it. The ceasefire in Cyprus did not turn into a formal peace and by the early 1990s several countries, including the major troop contributor Canada, announced they would withdraw or significantly reduce their contributions to UNFICYP. This prompted the Secretary-General to warn that UNFICYP would cease to be viable by June 1993 without new contributors.12  The strength of the force’s military component fell from 2040 in November 1992 to below 1000 in mid-June 199313  and the Force Commander had to implement an emergency contingency plan that was to have a significant impact on the future of UN monitoring in Cyprus.

On 1 December 1992, UNFICYP’s military component consisted of 2040 troops manning 151 OPs of which 51 were permanently (i.e. constantly) manned.14  Six months later, only 37 were permanently manned.15  By mid-June 1993, the strength of UNFICYP dipped to below 1000 and the number of permanently manned OPs was again reduced, leaving only 21 OPs permanently manned.16  Even after the force level was increased thanks to Argentina’s offer of a line battalion of 375 troops, raising the strength of UNFICYP to 1168 personnel by November 1993, the OP manning levels were not increased to their previous levels.17  This is because UNFICYP learned from the force reduction experience imposed on it in 1993 that it did not need to constantly man so many OPs to maintain stability. Instead, UNFICYP began to place greater emphasis on patrolling as a means of monitoring, as well as on accommodating military personnel in the BZ. The more stable military situation in Cyprus allowed this operational transition to fewer constantly manned OPs. The valuable lesson that the mission learned in 1993 on ways to substitute for permanently manned OPs would be considered and applied yet again over a decade later.


A New Approach to Monitoring

In November 2002, Secretary-General Kofi Annan presented the parties with a Comprehensive Settlement of the Cyprus Problem, or the Annan Plan, and by early 2004 the aspirations of both sides for acceptance into the European Union created a new incentive for agreement. After several modifications, the fifth version of the Annan Plan was presented to both the Greek and Turkish Cypriot populations in referenda in April 2004. The Turkish Cypriots accepted it by a margin of almost two to one but the Greek Cypriots rejected it three to one. 18

After the Greek Cypriot rejection of the plan Secretary-General Annan initiated a review of peacekeeping in the country. Based on the findings of the review team, he recommended a significant reduction in the military component of UNFICYP from 1224 to 860 personnel. He observed that the security situation on the island had become ‘increasingly benign over the past few years’ and that a recurrence of fighting was ‘increasingly unlikely’.19  An adjustment in the force’s entire approach to monitoring, observation, and surveillance was envisaged in the Secretary-General’s Report of 24 September 2004:

In the early years of the mission [post-1974] the force surveillance plan was based upon static observation posts. As the situation settled, more mobile surveillance was conducted . . . A further shift in emphasis from static to mobile surveillance would be appropriate at this stage, resulting in savings in personnel and resources. Better use of technology could also improve the Force’s effectiveness, including closed circuit television and improvement in information technology. Additional helicopter hours would also be required. 20

This new concept of operations, termed ‘concentration with mobility’, was opposed by the Greek Cypriot government, which argued that the military situation had not changed and that UNFICYP was already thinly spread on the ground.21  Nevertheless, the Security Council, by its Resolution 1568 of 22 October 2004, accepted the Secretary-General’s recommendations and the Force level was reduced by 30 per cent by February 2005.

The downsizing of UNFICYP in early 2005 posed a significant operational challenge. The 180 km Green Line still had to be monitored effectively. The mission did not want to be blamed for a flare up of violence. The Force Commander, Maj. Gen. Herbert Figoli of Uruguay, enunciated the following plan to execute the downsizing, which he entitled the ‘UNFICYP 860 Concept of Operations’ (‘Force 860’):

I intend to place less reliance on static observation posts and to shift our emphasis to more mobile surveillance. Increased patrolling on the ground and in the air, combined with greater use of technology such as closed circuit television, will enhance the monitoring activity of the force. Patrol programs will be more efficiently directed to areas where presence is needed, rather than routine patrolling everywhere. I am prepared to accept some risk in quiet areas . . . Sectors must be prepared to increase the intensity of patrolling where and when it is needed and I shall augment that effort with MFR [Mobile Force Reserve] patrols when required. The force will concentrate in fewer camps and patrol bases, centralizing manpower. 22

The transition to a smaller force proved smooth and successful, thanks to the creativity of the leaders and the professionalism of the peacekeepers that executed it.23  Under the new concept, the average number of daily patrols rose from about 50 to 200 between February and April 2005.24  The number of permanently manned OPs was reduced from 17 to merely two. 25 Patrol bases were reduced from 21 to nine and UN camps decreased from 12 to four. 26

The above-mentioned 2005 elimination of 15 permanent OPs, 12 patrol bases, and eight camps produced substantial savings in personnel and resources, while increasing the number of personnel available for duty in operations centres and rapid reaction forces. Nevertheless, effective and constant surveillance had to be maintained, especially in the most sensitive areas, and surveillance cameras became the preferred solution.


The Technological Contribution: Closed Circuit Television (CCTV)

The plan to introduce ‘greater use of technology such as closed circuit television’27  was based upon several years of advance study by UNFICYP staff. The mission was cognizant of recurring OPFOR problems, involving:

instances of stone throwing and verbal abuse in the past which . . . on occasion led to subsequent reports of ‘Cocking and Pointing’ which is the final stage in the escalation process prior to weapons being discharged and casualties occurring . . .

areas considered ‘hot spots’ [should] be monitored by installing motion-initiated camera systems . . . which would produce the necessary evidence to prove to the OPFORs the UN’s allegations of ill discipline which to date have been denied by the OPFORs because of the lack of corroborative evidence. 28

In addition to providing proof of OPFOR ‘ill discipline’ and violations of the ceasefire arrangement, the CCTV system was to facilitate a significant reduction in personnel leading to cost savings. The annual cost of operating a constantly manned OP is estimated by the author as approximately US$170,000 while the annual cost of operating a surveillance camera is US$15,000 for the first year of acquisition and only US$160/year in subsequent years.29  So, a camera system is over 10 times cheaper the first year and 100 times cheaper in subsequent years. With more substitutions, the cost savings would be that much greater. However, if a large number of cameras are deployed (e.g., more than 10), additional watchkeeper(s) would be needed in the Operations Centre to keep an eye on the additional screens. But the personnel requirements for additional watchkeepers would still be far lower than for human observers at OPs.

Financial and personnel requirements are not the only consideration in a manned/unmanned comparison. The loss of the human presence in the immediate conflict zone is a significant drawback. In UNFICYP’s case it was unavoidable, having been mandated by UN Headquarters. The missioncompensated by using cameras that, in a way, provide a new deterrent because they permit the recording of events and the transmission of the imagery to a central coordinating centre.

In a camera-based system with no local human presence, the UN still needs to be responsive. After a violation has been spotted by the watch officer in the Operations Centre, a call is made to the OPFORs’ local liaison officer, ideally as soon as the violation occurs. For more serious violations, UNFICYP’s liaison officers or response force are on standby to mount a quick reaction.

The camera plan was put forward in 2004, but it took UNFICYP several years to gradually implement it. The first Statement of Requirement, developed in early 2004,30  envisaged surveillance of 10 ‘flashpoints’ in the Nicosia city centre, using 16 cameras equipped with infrared filters, transmitter-receivers and, at the Joint Operations Centre (JOC), a multiplexer, large monitor, and DVD recorder. Six cameras were finally installed in the buffer zone by contractor personnel under UN escort in February 2008. The standard operating procedures (SOPs) for the camera system were developed that year. 31

The United Nations chose to deploy the cameras in sensitive areas of the buffer zone: places in Nicosia’s City Centre where the OPFORs were closest and where violations had been most frequent. The camera system was spread over 1.5 km along the narrowest part of the Green Line. This area in the centre of crowded Nicosia is a no-man’s land, providing stark evidence of the 1974 war. Majestic but uninhabited and decaying buildings, some pocked with bullet holes, remain frozen in time, an eerie reminder of the intense fighting that brought a once bustling city centre to a dead halt.

The chosen locations in the BZ for the cameras were: 32

(1) Maple House (UN OP66), to observe the close Turkish and Greek military positions, particularly around ‘Footballer’s Gate’ and ‘Yellow Car’.

(2) Ledra Street, originally to observe a Turkish force bridge and a Greek tourist centre, but after the street was opened as an official crossing point between the Greek and Turkish portions of the island, the camera was used to observe the crossing point.

(3) Magic Mansion, once a magic store, in the hope of stopping numerous violations in the area, including movements forward, construction, and over-manning.

(4) UN OP69, to observe several sensitive installations as well as to deter over-manning, stone throwing, verbal abuse, and other potential incidents.

(5) Friezenburg House, to observe the transit of National Guard soldiers across a short section of the BZ (to move between NG posts), and to deter stone throwing and other violations at the narrowest point of the BZ (only 3 metres).

(6) UN OP81, to observe excitable Turkish and Greek military forces where their manned OPs are in the closest proximity in the BZ.

The six cameras were intended to deter and detect ceasefire violations, including moves forward of the CFLs, shouting and verbal abuse, stone throwing, cocking and pointing of weapons, and over-manning of positions. Such violations were viewed by the watch officer on the 42-inch plasma monitor in the Sector 2 JOC, located at Wolseley Barracks and manned by soldiers of the British Contingent. The Pan-Tilt-Zoom (PTZ) cameras incorporated a motion sensor, so that movements within the camera’s field of view could be highlighted for the watch officer.

Once installed, it was necessary for the OPFORs to accept the new camera surveillance system. The UNFICYP Commander who developed the concept in 2004hadalreadyexplaineditsutilitytohisOPFORcounterparts. Then, when the system was made operational, the Sector 2 commander, in whose downtown area of operation (AOR) the cameras were installed, also invited the local commanders to separately visit the JOC for a briefing on the system and to view it firsthand.33  The two half-hour visits did the trick, with no opposition coming from the parties.

The utility of the camera system was quickly demonstrated by the UN’s positive experiences in the first few months after installation. Many ‘serious’ violations were spotted, as illustrated by the following cases.

Cases of CCTV Use

‘Yellow Car’ Area

This area, named after an abandoned yellow Morris Minor car that lies next to the Turkish CFL, had been a point of OPFOR friction. Many incidents of stone/coin throwing and verbal abuse between the two sentry positions had occurred here. The last shooting incident in the Nicosia BZ had occurred here in April 1994.34  To reduce tension, the United Nations had reached an agreement with the Turkish forces to reduce their manning in the area. Nevertheless, over-manning remained a frequent problem until the installation of the video cameras. At first the Turkish Forces denied any over-manning violations but after being presented incontrovertible video evidence of a violation on 18 February 2008, the activity stopped entirely.35  The ongoing video record proved to be a successful deterrent. Verbal allegations could not command as much respect as photo evidence.

A similar incident using a primitive Swedish night vision device had occurred in the late 1980s.36  UNFICYP complained to the Turkish Forces sector commander that his soldiers were digging at night on the edge of the BZ but the denials were always rapid and sustained. One evening, the local UN commander (Swedish) invited the local Turkish commander for tea at a UN facility overlooking the BZ, in which night vision devices had been installed. After some chatting, the Swedish commander casually mentioned that the United Nations had installed the night observation equipment and asked the Turkish commander if he would like to take a look through the device. The Turkish commander then saw with his own eyes his own troops digging. The violations stopped after that night.

Greek National Guard Post 50 (NG50) Area

Soon after a UN camera was installed near NG50, the JOC watch officer observed Greek National Guard (NG) soldiers, some armed with rifles, inside the BZ. The JOC officer complained to the NG Liaison Officer by telephone. But it was only when a UN MOLO (Military Observation and Liaison Officer) was sent to the scene that the NG soldiers departed. A UN letter of protest was drafted and the NG Liaison Officer was presented with a still picture (screen capture) of the incident.

The UN’s Sector 2 Commanding Officer wrote to his NG counterpart that the violation had been ‘captured on CCTV’. He requested a NG investigation and explanation. He added: ‘I am sure you would agree that had this event been observed by the TK [Turkish Forces], a very serious situation could have resulted’. 37

The NG commander responded by agreeing that the soldier went out of the prescribed areas. He explained that this was done in order to investigate noises caused by unannounced construction by Turkish Forces, about which he had complained.38  He assured the UN officer that he had re-issued ‘clear orders’ to his soldiers to avoid a repeat of this specific incident.

Overall, violations at NG50 ‘decreased dramatically since the introduction of the CCTV camera’. Previously, though, ‘the UN had no way of observing a violation unless a patrol happened to stumble across it happening’. 39

National Guard Post 42 (NG42) Area

OPFORs are not supposed to photograph each other, according to the ‘Spirit of the Ceasefire Arrangement’.40  At UN OP69, the CCTV caught a Greek NG soldier photographing soldiers at a Turkish post (TF47) approximately 30 metres away. The NG Liaison Officer was given a printed copy of a video image as evidence. The incident was resolved through a meeting with a local NG commander, who promised that the soldier would be disciplined and that personnel checks would commence to stop the carrying of cameras and camera phones.

Ledra Street Crossing (LSX)

Ledra Street runs down the centre of Nicosia’s old city. It was the first street in the city to be barricaded when inter-communal fighting broke out in December 1963. Then, after the 1974 invasion and partition, it was severed at its centre point and became the site of much OPFOR antagonism and grandstanding. The Republic of Cyprus created a visit centre (Tourist House) and a viewing platform on its side. The Turkish side built a symbolic stairway for observers. When the NG placed a CCTV system on Tourist House in 2005, the Turks responded with a camera of their own. The UN complained and the cameras were removed. After a thaw in relations in 2007–8, it was decided to open a public transit point at the Ledra Street Crossing (LSX).41  The United Nations’ Mine Action Centre in Cyprus (MACC) checked for landmines so LSX could open on time.

The opening of LSX on 3 April 2008 was a symbolic victory for peaceful coexistence. Moreover, LSX has great practical value in facilitating traffic between the Turkish and Greek zones of the island’s largest city. Nevertheless, the first days of its opening presented significant challenges for the UN.

On the morning of its opening, the crossing was still contentious. The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) maintained that most of the crossing area was in its territory and insisted on a right to enter, a fact disputed by the UN. The UN’s video camera had recently been installed above the centre of the crossing some 5 metres from the ground, attached to a beam hung between adjacent buildings. As part of the agreed Confidence Building Measures (CBMs), the crossing area was to be de-militarized, i.e., unmanned by any forces, including those of the UN. As the UN avoided the area, the overhead cameras became the ‘only UN foothold’ at the crossing. The CCTV provided 360 degree surveillance that morning which showed Turkish Cypriot Police (TCP) officers entering the area before the opening of the crossing. The Greek side immediately sealed off their side until UN mediators persuaded the TCP to exit. Such trespassing was to repeat itself, but, according to the UNIFCYP soldier who watched the CCTV tapes, ‘once the TCP realised that the camera was watching over this area for violations, the offenses became almost non-existent’. 42

Another problem emerged on the night of the opening. Greek Cypriot demonstrators wanted to take advantage of the publicity and make a statement. The protestors blocked the crossing at 9 pm and confronted the TCP. The affair was captured on CCTV. The UN Police (UNPOL) Coordinator let the Cyprus Police (CYPOL) know that the United Nations had footage of the perpetrators and their banners. In the end, however, no arrests were made and CYPOL did not request the footage.43  Fortunately, UNPOL was able to resolve the confrontation peacefully.

The well-lit Ledra Street Crossing was then opened 24/7 and the camera continues to record events day and night. However, instead of having an operator observe the CCTV input throughout the night, the camera supervisor can now play back the overnight footage in the morning and still spot any night violations. The morning reviewer can thus take the same action as a 24/7 observer for small violations by issuing written complaints in the morning.

CCTV Problems and Limitations

While UNFICYP has pioneered CCTV observation of conflict areas, the actual system in Nicosia took years to be implemented44  and area coverage is still quite modest. While 100 cameras are used for monitoring UNFICYP premises, only six are used for hotspots in the BZ across a distance spanning only 1.5 km. Furthermore, one of the six cameras was non-functional for a half-year after installation due to a communications relay problem.

The working CCTV cameras have significant limitations, especially if they are to be applied to other areas of Cyprus. The cameras have a ‘night sense’ capability that falls far short of a ‘night vision’ capability, such as infrared or starlight cameras, so they have almost no use in the dark. The camera specification in the contract is for 0.01 lux but imagery without illumination is blurry or completely black.45  Since violations do occur at night, there is a need to illumine the areas that the cameras view. This has been done at four of the six camera locations in Nicosia. In the other two locations the cameras only show a single bright light from a distant OP. A similar problem would occur in other areas of the BZ especially where the cameras might be used to spot illegal trafficking. One possible solution, discussed later, would be to install infrared systems or illuminators triggered by motion detectors.

Microwave beams are used to transmit the signals from the existing camera stations to the Sector 2 Operations Centre. Sometimes, because of tree foliage along the route, the microwave signal from an OP becomes disrupted or the video link is lost or its quality degraded.46  One camera did not come online until over a year after its installation because the ‘line of sight’ needed for microwave signal transmission could not be achieved by the contractor. More troubling, the maintenance and repair of online cameras has been slow. After one camera was overpowered from a nearby lightning strike, no repair was made for over 100 days, despite insistent calls to the contractor. The OPFORs likely realized that the observation device was not working since no violation reports were sent to them.

The OPFORs are sensitive about filming behind their ceasefire lines. While they accept filming in the BZ, they do not tolerate filming with video or still cameras of installations behind their lines or outside the BZ. The borders of the BZ have an abundance of signs for the general public declaring: ‘No photos or filming beyond this point’. Thus, the current CCTVs must be pointed across the breadth of the BZ and the view of the CFL must be limited to forward positions only.

If the conflict intensity between the OPFORs had been higher, it is unlikely that CCTV systems could have been used to replace OPs. The relatively peaceful atmosphere made possible this technological component of the ‘concentration with mobility’ concept. When the Green Line had seen more violence and when typical incidents had been more serious than over-manning – for example, the shooting incidents of the 1970s and 1980s – the OPFORs would not have tolerated the installation of cameras and might even have destroyed them with gunfire. OPFORs shooting at each other are unlikely to tolerate a video witness. When the Cypriot conflict was more intense, the human ‘blue beret’ presence in no man’s land was absolutely necessary to prevent escalation, as both sides recognized. Nevertheless, the OPFORs are now gaining experience with the CCTV system. In the undesirable and unlikely return of high intensity conflict, the CCTVs could be extremely useful as a supplement to an expanded human presence.

Other Monitoring Systems

CCTV on UN Premises

Like most UN missions and international organizations around the world, UNFICYP uses CCTV systems to monitor its premises, especially the entrances and perimeter. It dramatically increased this surveillance tool after the tragic Baghdad bombings in August 2003.47  In 2004, UNFICYP ordered almost 100 security cameras for the mission, including the three sector headquarters.48  Their primary purpose has been to deter and detect any intruders. At camp Stefanik, the only camp located on the Turkish side, surveillance cameras have monitored crowds of demonstrators assembled in protest in front of the camp’s main gate and along the approach to the camp. Without the cameras it would be necessary to post sentries along the entire perimeter or allow fence-jumpers to go unmonitored.

UNFICYP headquarters is located within the UN Protected Area (UNPA) that includes the former international airport on the outskirts of Nicosia. The UNPA was established at the start of the 1974 war to prevent the airport from being overrun and used by either side, particularly the invading Turkish force. The territory has remained a ‘protected area’ ever since.49  In addition to the abandoned airport, it includes a large tract of land that is unused except for UN facilities. Camp Blue Beret contains both the mission and UNPOL headquarters. ‘UN Flight’, the base for the UN helicopter unit, is located in the airport. Surveillance cameras were installed at UNPA road entrances (gates), and on several buildings in the camp. None of them are designed to view the larger open areas of the UNPA. 50

Helicopter Reconnaissance

Aerial observation is a highly effective monitoring tool that was already in use by UNFICYP before the introduction of ‘Force 860’. Sectors can request observation flights 24/7 from UN Flight, the Argentine helicopter unit. Helicopters provide a ‘bird’s eye’ view of the terrain.51  In scanning large areas, observers onboard can see beyond their usual vehicle patrol tracks and beyond natural or artificial barriers. Usually hand-held cameras are carried aboard by UN observers. The helicopters are also equipped with a surveillance pod housing electro-optical and forward looking infrared (FLIR) cameras that can take gyro-stabilized video footage day and night. 52

Heliborne camera imagery has been given to the parties as evidence of their violations. Digital cameras held by peacekeepers flying on the helicopters have captured numerous violations within the BZ including:

– unannounced military exercises;

– unannounced terrain briefings at military bunkers;

– illegal road or fortification construction;

– illegal farming, hunting and motor-biking;

– suspicious activities needing further investigation on the ground.

Air patrols have also targeted other activities including ships of doubtful origin off the Cypriot coast, public demonstrations in Nicosia, and even lost UN patrol cars.

The helicopters also fly other missions like the transport of personnel and supplies, medical evacuation, and overhead security. While so doing, pilots may observe suspicious or otherwise important activities. To make use of such information, UNFICYP regulations stipulate that UN Flight ‘ensure all flights conduct observation and report anomalies’. This regulation encourages the pilots to pass on any information they may have gained during their flights even when not on reconnaissance missions.

Any observation behind OPFOR lines, which is quite possible from the air, is not acceptable to the parties. UNFICYP takes great pains not to record beyond the BZ, though some observation gives an excellent sense of military preparations and threatening activities. 53

Liaison/Mediation and Force Response

Observation by itself is not usually sufficient to keep the peace. After cameras or human observers spot a violation, a UN response is needed. ‘Force 860’ envisaged ‘more emphasis on liaison and mediation rather than interposition of forces to prevent the recurrence of fighting’.54  The Force Commander created a new type of UN peacekeeper: the Military Observer and Liaison Officer (MOLO). This cadre represents another UNFICYP innovation in UN peacekeeping. The MOLO has the same tasks as the traditional UN military Observer (UNMO), and also the added task of enhancing ‘liaison with the OPFORs and to conduct more effective mediation’.55  MOLOs not only respond to violations but also try to prevent them when they see signs of emerging tension.

Each sector commander developed MOLO teams and assigned them to the forward areas of the OPFORs. MOLO teams consist of at least two officers. By July 2008, UNFICYP had 13 MOLO teams comprised of a total of 36 officers.56  The MOLO officers are trained in their unique role as conflict managers and mediators. They have contributed to stability, firstly by providing direct liaison with OPFORs at a local level, and secondly by being more aware of all sensitive activities along their segment of the Green Line, especially any activities that could become flashpoints for conflict.

If discussions by the MOLOs with their OPFOR counterparts do not result in compliance, the complaints are moved to a higher level, e.g., to the commanding officer for that UNIFCYP sector or, failing that, to his superiors at HQ UNFICYP. HQ intervention is needed only for the most significant of violations, e.g., when OPFOR battalions lack the authority to resolve conflicts. Sometimes they need to be ordered to desist or stand down by higher command. For example, OPFOR battalions have claimed that the fitting of bayonets on rifles is a directive from above and that they cannot countermand such an order without direction from their headquarters.

Some incidents require the rapid response of peacekeepers. For instance, large civilian incursions into the BZ, e.g., farm workers without permits, may require escorts to facilitate or force an exit. Each sector has a Quick Reaction Force (QRF), normally made up of the sector Guard Force, the soldiers on 24-hour duty who normally provide the camp security detail (e.g., man the gates). This is backed up by a Sector Reserve on 30 minutes notice to move. This usually consists of reserve soldiers on down-time who are confined to camp and on call. The next level of reserve is on two hours notice to move. These timings are reduced if the United Nations aims to pre-empt an event, e.g., a planned demonstration. The reserves can then be ready to deploy within minutes. The sectors must also have units on standby for the Force Commanders’ Reserve, which is only deployable on the orders of HQ UNFICYP. 57

Future Possibilities: UNFICYP and Beyond

While UNFICYP has broken new ground in UN peacekeeping, its technical monitoring capabilities are still far behind those of modern military forces, for instance, the NATO deployments in Bosnia or Kosovo. The threat level and risks are sufficiently low in Cyprus that a full package of sophisticated Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) hardware is not necessary. But there is still much more that the mission could do in a cost-effective manner, should the political will and funding allow it.

The six UNFICYP cameras in the Nicosia city centre provide medium-resolution imagery. Higher resolution cameras would give better quality imagery and are now available at a much lower cost than the current cameras.58  For instance, high definition (HD) cameras could help more quickly identify incidents and provide more convincing evidence to show offending OPFORs.

Along the entire 180 km BZ, there are many places where cameras would also be useful. Where the UN-administered BZ is wider, a frequent challenge is to prevent trespassing by civilians in open areas. People enter the BZ for a variety of illegal purposes: human trafficking, goods smuggling, hunting off-season, and even garbage dumping. The United Nations has difficulty preventing these movements because most of them are done clandestinely. Cameras can alert the United Nations to such trespassers and trigger a response. Cameras could be fixed at significant road entrances to the BZ or moved around to places of immediate concern. With a zoom capability, the HD cameras should allow vehicle license plate numbers to be read at a distance of 100 metres or more. Automated license plate reading systems are commercially available.

To deal with human trafficking, a CCTV system could be used by UNPOL, especially in places known to be transit points, such as the village of Pyla. Located within the BZ, Pyla is one of the few places where Greek and Turkish Cypriots live together in the same community. Illegal immigrants often travel to Pyla and, having access to the Republic of Cyprus, can then enter other parts of the European Union. In order not to disrupt the public order, constant vigilance is needed to catch human trafficking. Well placed cameras would help that cause. 59

Besides CCTV, there are many other creative technological innovations that could improve the effectiveness of UNFICYP and many other missions. These monitoring technologies are briefly reviewed here by cost level.

At the low end, motion sensors could be acquired to trigger illuminators once movement in the BZ has been detected. This would be useful in both urban and rural parts of the BZ. Two of the six cameras in Nicosia are virtually blind at night. Floodlights or motion-triggered illuminators could be installed near the cameras. Trespassers would then be immediately illuminated on entering an illegal area and warned that they are being observed. The watchkeeper in the Operations Center would also be alerted by the sudden bright imagery. To minimize triggering by the wildlife that frequents the BZ, the ‘gain’ of the motion detectors could be adjusted so they are triggered only by larger, human-sized sources.

Motion sensors could also trigger an automatic alarm on the camera system (e.g., flashing on the screen) in real time at the operations centre. Computer software can aid interpretation of the signal, especially to filter out false alarms like the motion triggered by wandering animals.

So-called ‘dummy’ cameras, fixed or mobile, would also be useful because the OPFORs and civilians would not know whether the cameras were operational or not. Thus the cameras could deter both OPFOR violations and civilian trespassing in the BZ.

Microphones could easily be attached to the cameras to provide an audio capability in sensitive areas. This would be useful in detecting verbal abuse, which is often the first stage in an escalation. Sound recordings could verify alleged or actual violations. Especially within the Green Line in the Nicosia city centre, microphones could be attached to some existing video cameras or at new locations. Sound coming from the microphones could also trigger alerts at the JOC. Furthermore, if speakers were attached, the watchkeeper could broadcast a message into areas of trouble, allowing an immediate response, something that was lost when UNFICYP OPs became unmanned. At presentnone of the six cameras are equipped with sound detection, recording, or broadcasting.

Low-cost laser range-finders can be of considerable utility. They provide the precise distance to objects close or far away from the viewer. In large areas of the BZ they would determine if a distant trespasser had actually entered the BZ. They would also be useful in observing maritime approaches on the coastal ends of the BZ. On the mountainous northern edge of the island, the manned UN OP3 is responsible for observing boats moving north of the BZ. Peacekeepers detect vessels that may be trespassing into OPFOR territorial waters, especially boats which regularly traverse to the Turkish enclave of Kokkina/Erenköy. The current method of estimating whether a boat has come within the limits of the Maritime Security Line60  is crude. The type of boat is guessed based on its shape and its length in the observers’ binoculars is estimated. A hand chart then indicates that if the boat is over a certain length, it is likely to be inside the limited area, constituting a violation. This method is inaccurate, subjective, and prone to human error. A tripod-mounted laser range-finder would be able to make the measurement exactly, i.e., with an error of only a few metres for objects up to 10 km away.

The GIS system in UNFICYP is also quite basic by modern military standards. For less than US$50,000, satellite imagery could be purchased to properly geo-reference the entire BZ, allowing map coordinates to be accurate to within 2–3 metres instead of the current 100 metres offered by Google Earth system being used.61  A more elaborate GIS system would allow UN observers and MOLOs to log data directly into a spatial database and access it from anywhere in real time. As with laser range-finders, a GIS system would also be useful in determining if a soldier or hunter has actually trespassed into the BZ. Often hunters dispute the UN’s claims of trespassing. Images with proper grid references and ceasefire line demarcations would be quite convincing. A record of past incidents would also be useful through a geo-referenced database.

Medium-cost technologies (over US$50,000) include radar and acoustic/ seismic sensors placed in arrays to help detect movements into and within the BZ, for example, by OPFOR soldiers, hunters, or traffickers. In other UN missions, this could be used to detect preparations for attack. The more advanced observation could trigger action by UN soldiers and police. Ground surveillance radar (GSR) can detect a person walking into a field at a distance of 10 km under all weather conditions, day and night. It can be set up to cover a full circle or a specified arc.62  Tethered balloons could carry cameras that provide a high and wide view of the BZ or other areas of responsibility. Such aerostats marked with UN letters could also serve as a useful boundary demarcation point, visible to all. Some may resent the presence and thus it could raise tensions. To overcome OPFOR fears that the aerostat cameras would observe beyond the ceasefire lines and into their territories, the balloons could be placed in wide areas of the buffer zone. Nevertheless, civilian hunters not subject to military discipline might shoot them down. Though susceptible to gunfire, aerostats can be re-launched within a day and the camera system could be of high durability yet medium cost.

High-end monitoring technologies include modern infrared (FLIR) cameras for aircraft. The system deployed in UNFICYP helicopters is of an old standard. Also, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) could provide cost-effective airborne surveillance. They are small and can be made virtually invisible by flying at higher altitudes. The systems vary greatly in range, capability, and cost so several types could be employed simultaneously. The view could extend far beyond the BZ. Remote viewing of UAV imagery is possible on laptop computers, Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs), or Remote Viewing Terminals (RVTs). This would allow MOLOs to show live imagery of violations to their OPFOR counterparts. However, UAVs, especially small ones, are more prone to accidental crashes than piloted aircraft since the remote pilots often cannot ‘feel’ a difficulty as it arises; it can only be ‘seen’ on remote screens. Thus UAVs could be more hazardous and in closed areas of a DMZ they could even endanger lives.

To use such powerful technologies without the permission or knowledge of the OPFORs involves risk. UNFICYP has grown very aware of the sensitivities of the parties to covert or unauthorized observation. To acquire intelligence on the OPFORs and then to present them with evidence of their violations could jeopardize the acceptability of the UN force to the parties. Clearly these technologies have monitoring potential, but in Cyprus and in most other cases they should be used with the parties’ consent.

The direct provision of camera imagery to the OPFORs, either periodically or in real time, might serve as a confidence-building measure in the future, particularly if they start to reduce their manning levels or even abandon some posts. If both OPFORs had video feeds from the UN cameras they would have greater confidence that the BZ was stable. But the United Nations would have to be aware that the information could be used for an aggressive purpose, so it would have to be prepared to cut the signal if such were the case. Thus the United Nations might establish a system where the parties could obtain limited video as the situation warrants.

In a situation as stable as Cyprus now is, the urgency to enhance monitoring capacity is admittedly not great. This does not, however, mean that UNFICYP should be complacent. Rather it should be constantly seeking ways to gain better awareness of the BZ. Technologies also offer a new form of innovation that could prove extremely useful should the UNFICYP mandate change after a settlement.

With a mission budget of only US$56 million per year,63  UNFICYP may find it difficult to find funds for the more expensive equipment. But for other missions, like the UN Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo with its billion-dollar budget, technologies are a key investment with great payoff over vast territories.64  In addition, most technologies are transferrable between missions to meet urgent needs. Moreover, monitoring technologies, like most high-technology, are becoming cheaper and of better quality. They have higher resolution and quicker transmission time as well as greater portability, durability, and ruggedness. Experience with electronic surveillance is growing in both the developed and developing world and in both military and police forces.

While some of the preceding technologies may not be affordable or urgent for the current Cypriot situation, they should be considered for a future UNFICYP and for other missions in hot-spots. Especially if there is a peace settlement in Cyprus, then a planned UNFICYP II will need to include many advanced technologies in the integration and peacebuilding process.


UNFICYP is often sharply criticized for its longevity and for the fact that the peacekeeping has not produced a political settlement. Some have even gone so far as to use it as an example against peacekeeping. This negativity is unfounded and fails to recognize the mission’s accomplishments. At the heat of the conflict, UNFICYP needed more than 6400 troops to contain violence; now it only deploys about 800. After the 1974 Cypriot War UNFICYP needed almost 100 constantly manned OPs, now it needs only two. UNFICYP facilitated this incredible transition from bloodshed to calm.

As a stereotypical traditional peacekeeping mission, UNFICYP was an unlikely candidate to pioneer surveillance technology in peacekeeping. Yet tradition met modernity in UNFICYP. The innovative solution was born of necessity when the mission was forced to downsize after 2004. An unattended camera system in a de-militarized zone was introduced for the first time in UN peacekeeping history. This technology could be applied to many tense conflict areas such as South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Syria. Viewing and documenting violations is a key role for peacekeepers wherever they are deployed.

The early UNFICYP experiment did reveal some of the UN’s technological deficiencies. The four years taken to implement the six-camera solution is not commendable. The United Nations should become more adept at rapidly deploying high-tech monitoring technology, just as it has with its communications technology. Thus more specialized UN expertise is needed. This is one of the many UNFICYP lessons for peacekeeping in general, especially as the world organization strives to find new and improved ways to increase safety and effectiveness in its missions.

However, the utility and cost effectiveness of fixed video cameras in conflict zones has been clearly shown by the UNFICYP experience. The cases described above highlight the advantages of cameras, especially the recording of violations that can then be presented as evidence to offending parties. In addition, cameras can maintain a 24/7 watch over areas whereas patrols can only detect violations if they happen to pass by.

Manned OPs allow for a constant watch and they permit a quicker response because soldiers are already in situ. Under the newer ‘concentration with mobility’ concept, responders are kept on standby at a distance. The United Nations has limited resources to cover its peacekeeping areas, including the 180 km-long Green Line. So a camera system has great utility and is 10 to 100 times less costly for monitoring than a manned OP.

As shown in UNFICYP, cameras can incorporate motion detectors that trigger alarms and watchkeeper attention. Even more sophisticated hardware and software is available to detect potential violations. Furthermore, the cameras can be equipped with acoustic recorders to catch additional violations, including gunshots and verbal abuse that might otherwise result in an escalation of violence.

In Cyprus, the level of violations is low in comparison with other missions. UNFICYP catches 600 or so violations a year,65  but none have proven life-threatening for over a decade. The weekly body count in some other conflicts where UN missions are deployed greatly exceeds the weekly count of minor violations in Cyprus. All the more reason why the UNFICYP experiment with surveillance cameras carries a valuable and transferrable lesson: remote monitoring can help deter, detect, and document violations. In larger missions, where the stakes are greater, the benefits of early warning and rapid response would also be greater. The United Nations would be wise to develop the positive lessons from UNFICYP into broader policies and wider practices.66  In an age when technology has been widely used to enhance war-fighting, it is only appropriate to make greater use of technology for peacekeeping.



Research for this paper was made possible by a grant from the Global Peace and Security Fund of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada. Research and writing assistance from Robert Pauk was most appreciated, made possible through a grant from the Canadian Forces Aerospace Warfare Centre. The author thanks UN headquarters for sponsoring a trip to Cyprus and to UNFICYP for providing a through and frank view of the mission and its challenges, as well as for the provision of many useful documents. The author thanks the United Nations and this journal for their permission to use material from his UN report and his book Keeping Watch: Monitoring, Technology and Innovation in UN Peace Operations (Tokyo: United Nations University Press 2011).



1  The United Nations has only two longer-running peacekeeping missions than UNFICYP: UNTSO in Palestine and UNMOGIP in Kashmir. These, however, are observer missions, not peacekeeping forces with armed troops.

2   An overview of technologies in peace operations is provided in A. Walter Dorn, Keeping Watch: Monitoring, Technology and Innovation in UN Peace Operations (Tokyo: United Nations University Press 2011).

3  UNFICYP was created by Security Council Resolution 186 (1964).

4  The first figure is for June 1964 and is from ‘Report by the Secretary-General to the Security Council on the United Nations Operation in Cyprus, for the Period 26 April to 8 June 1964’, UN Doc. S/5764, 15 June 1964, p.2. The second figure is for May 1974 and is from ‘Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Operation in Cyprus’, UN Doc. S/11294, 22 May 1974, p.4.

5  Brian Urquhart, A Life in Peace and War (New York: Harper and Row 1987) p.256.

6  For accounts of UNFICYP during the war, see Francis Henn, A Business of Some Heat: The United Nations Force in Cyprus Before and During the 1974 Turkish Invasion (London: Pen and Sword Books 2005); and Brigadier General Clay Beattie, The Bulletproof Flag: Canadian Peacekeeping Forces and the War in Cyprus: How a Small UN Force Changed the Concept of Peacekeeping Forever (Ottawa: Optimum Publishing International 2007).

7  ‘Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Operation in Cyprus’, UN Doc. S/11568, 6 December 1974, p.11.

8  The divided city of Jerusalem is considered by the state of Israel as the national capital and has also been declared the future capital of a Palestinian state but it is not the capital for the two governments at present.

9  ‘Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre’, According to the website, the United Nations Commission for Refugees gives slightly higher figures of 200,000 and 65,000 for the number of Greek and Turkish Cypriot refugees.

10  Based upon the personal experience of one of the author’s research assistants as a platoon commander with UNFICYP in 1976, about a year and a half after the war.

11  ‘Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Operation in Cyprus’, UN Doc. S/11717, 9 June 1975, p.6.

12  ‘Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Operation in Cyprus’, UN Doc. S/25492, 30 March 1993, p.2.

13  Ibid.

14  ‘Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Operation in Cyprus’, UN Doc. S/24917, 1 December 1992. The troop figure is on p.3; OP figures are on p.5.

15  ‘Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Operation in Cyprus’, UN Doc. S/25912, 9 June 1993, p.4. The number of OPs provided is for 31 May 1993.

16  Only 21 OPs remained permanently manned, another three were manned during daylight hours only, and another 19 periodically. All of the above were used for overnight accommodation of UNFICYP military personnel. Finally, the remaining 108 OPs were manned less periodically than the preceding. ‘Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Operation in Cyprus’, UN Doc. S/26777, 22 November 1993, p.4.

17  Ibid., p.7. The Security Council changed the financing of the force, which precipitated Argentina’s offer.

18  There was much bitterness over this outcome, especially since the Greek Cypriot President, Tassos Papadopoulos, had campaigned against acceptance. His government had not even allowed some key supporters of the plan to appear on the national television station. See James Ker-Lindsay, EU Accession and UN Peacemaking in Cyprus (Basingstoke: Palgrave/ Macmillan 2005) p.118; and James Ker-Lindsay, ‘The UN Force in Cyprus’, After the 2004 Reunification Referendum’, International Peacekeeping 13/3 (September 2006) p.412.

19  ‘Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Operation in Cyprus’, UN Doc. S/2004/756, 24 September 2004, p.6.

20  Ibid., p.7. Emphasis added.

21  Ker-Lindsay, ‘The UN Force in Cyprus’, p.413.

22  Maj. Gen. H. Figoli, UNFICYP Force Commander, UNFICYP Memorandum entitled ‘UNFICYP 860 Concept of Operations’, October 2004, p.1. Emphasis added.

23  Bear in mind that in March 1993 the Secretary-General had warned, in the face of an impending manning shortfall, that if the force fell to 850 personnel, it would cease to be viable. ‘Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Operation in Cyprus’, UN Doc. S/25492, 30 March 1993, p.2.

24  ‘Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Operation in Cyprus’, UN Doc. S/2005/353, 27 May 2005, p.4.

25  Ibid.

26  Ibid.

27  Maj. Gen. H. Figoli, UNFICYP Force Commander, UNFICYP Memorandum entitled ‘UNFICYP 860 Concept of Operations’, October 2004, p.1.

28  UNFICYP internal memorandum entitled ‘Close Circuit Television Monitoring Systems: Statement of Requirement’, 13 January 2004, p.1, paras 1–4.

29  The estimates are based on actual UNFICYP cost figures for its personnel and CCTV system in US dollars and is based on the requirement of eight soldiers per day for each OP (three shifts a day each of two soldiers for a total of six soldiers per day plus an additional two soldiers absent for leave/medical reasons coming to a total of eight soldiers per day per OP). The annual cost of operating a constantly manned (24 hours/day seven days/week) OP includes US$96,000 per year for the annual salaries of these eight soldiers, plus US$73,000 per year for rations based on US$25 a day for eight soldiers for 365 days, and US$2500 for equipment. This totals US $171,500 per year for one OP. The cost for the camera system is based on the acquisition and installation price of US$15,000 and maintenance in subsequent years of US$160 annually.

30  UNFICYP memorandum entitled ‘Close Circuit Television Monitoring Systems: User Statement of Requirement’, 13 January 2004, p.2. See also ‘Technical Statement of Work and Specifications for Amendment to CCTV Contract CON/CYP/04-089, Quantity 17 Additional Cameras’, 26 July 2005.

31  UNFICYP Standing Operating Procedures (SOPs), Chapter 2, Part V, Section 11, ‘Security, City Troop CCTV Systems’, 13 November 2008.

32  Ibid. Three locations from the nine originally planned have not yet been outfitted with cameras due primarily to a lack of funds. These include the locations of Paphos Gate, and UN OP64. Instead of a camera at UN OP76, a signal relay station for another camera was placed at that post.

33  Letter of 11 March 2008 from UNFICYP Sector 2 Commander Lt Col. T. Duncan to Turkish forces Commander Col. V. Tarakci, 1 Wolf Regiment.

34  In April 1994, after a TF soldier entered the BZ to throw a stone, a NG sentry fired five shots in his direction. Fortunately, no rounds hit the TF soldier. Other incidents include cock and point (C&P), movements forward, insulting hand gestures, the use of a catapult by the NG, and Turkish Cypriot children shining laser pens at NG positions.

35  This incident was described by UNFICYP officers in Cyprus in a SITREP (Situation Report). See Incident Serial No. S2-071180, dated 18 February 2008. In addition, the conspicuous nature of the TF actions made UNFICYP soldiers wonder whether the TF were testing the UN’s observation and reactions when using the newly installed CCTV. Communication to the author from WO2 David Provan, Continuity Operations Warrant Officer, Headquarters Sector Two, UFICYP, Wolseley Barracks, 23 January 2009.

36  Personal communication from Lt Col. Christian Harelam, a former Swedish peacekeeper in UNFICYP. Night vision equipment has been brought in by contingents. In 2005, UNFICYP ‘procured night vision equipment to improve its surveillance of the buffer zone’. Secretary-General, ‘Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Operation in Cyprus’, UN Doc. S/2005/743, 29 November 2005, p.4. However, the UN Police did not possess night vision equipment even by 2008.

37  Letter from Lt Col. T. Duncan, Commanding Officer of HQ Sector 2, UNFICYP, to Col. Panayiotou, Commanding officer, 9th Regiment, National Guard, 23 February 2008. In 1983, an NG soldier was shot dead by the TF near the post and Friezenburg House. Throughout the rest of 1983, the UN observed incidents of the two sides shooting at each other’s OPs.

38  Letter from Col. Panayyiotou Efstathios, NG Commanding Officer (AJ Sector), to Lt Col. T. Duncan, UNFICYP Commanding Officer (Sector 2), received 8 April 2008. 39Communication in electronic format to the author from WO2 Provan, Continuity Operations Warrant Officer at Sector Two Headquarters, Wolseley Barracks, 22 January 2009.

39  Communication in electronic format to the author (AWD) from WO2 Provan, Continuity Operations Warrant Officer at Sector Two Headquarters, Wolseley Barracks, 22 January 2009.

40  This is an unsigned ‘arrangement’ in the form of a UN Aide Memoire of 1989. It makes more specific the Green Line locations and ‘rules’.

41  On the Turkish side of the crossing, documents (e.g., passports) must be presented to border control agents. On the Greek Cypriot side, no stop is required since the Republic of Cyprus sees Cyprus as one country and the border as artificial and not legal or officially recognized. Some Greek Cypriots feared the opening of the crossing might increase acceptance of two separate states within the federal boundaries of the Republic of Cyprus.

42  Electronic communication from WO2 Provan, 23 January 2009.

43  Communication to author from WO2 David Provan, Continuity Operations Warrant Officer, Headquarters Sector Two, UNFICYP, Wolseley Barracks, 23 January 2009.

44  The system was conceived in 2004, approved in 2005, for 2006–7 budget. The tender likely went out in 2005–6, with financing released 2006. The actual physical work started in 2006/7 for an operating capacity targeted for August 2007, but the system only came online in March 2008.

45  One lux is equal to one lumen per square metre, where ‘4p lumens is the total luminous flux of a light source of one candela of luminous intensity’. To give a rough idea, a measurement of 1 lux would roughly translate into the intensity of a common candle as seen at a distance of 1 metre and 0.01 lux would equate to observation at a distance of 10 metres.

46  The United Nations was unable to trim or remove the offending tree because it forms part of the TF CFL and permission not given. In addition, the camera was put out of action due to a power surge from a lightning strike on a building nearby. Written Communication from WO2 Provan, 23 January 2009.

47  The truck bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad on 19 August 2003 led to the deaths of 22 UN workers, including the head of mission, Sergio Vieira de Mello. Over 150 others were wounded.

48  The physical security review following the tragic attack in Iraq of the UN headquarters on 19 August 2003 led to significant security improvements, according to Force Commander Figoli (End of Assignment Report), December 2005, p.7. The locations of the on-site cameras are UNPA (HQ UNFICYP), Sector 1 sites (Camp St. Martin in Skouriotissa, Camp Roca in Morphou, and Camp Brown at Astromeritis Crossing Point), Sector 2 site (Ledra Palace Hotel) and Sector 4 sites (Camp Izay in Athienou and Camp General Stefanik in Famagousta). Camp Istvan also has a CCTV system.

49  The status of ‘protected area’ means that the parties are not allowed to enter it without UN permission. At UN behest, some of the negotiations between the parties are held there. 50The cameras were mostly of the Bosch brand (models LTC 0455/50 and ENVE 230W), as were the nine-channel digital video recorders (models 9F2302 and DVR 6F2162). These inexpensive cameras (roughly US$500 each) included a ‘night sense’ (low light) capability,motion detection and the PTZ feature. Some of the cameras in close range of headquarters are connected to the HQ Operations Centre through a wireless network.

50  The cameras were mostly of the Bosch brand (models LTC 0455/50 and ENVE 230W), as were the 9-channel digital video recorders (models 9F2302 and DVR 6F2162). These inexpensive cameras (roughly US$500 each) included a ‘night sense’ (low light) capability, motion detection and the PTZ feature. Some of the cameras in close range of headquarters are connected to the HQ Operations Centre through a wireless network.

51  UN Flight has Bell 212-IFR and Hughes 500D helicopters, based at the UNPA Helicopter Landing Site (HLS). The Argentine unit has flown over 15,000 hours since 1974. It usually flies at 500 to 1000 feet. A helicopter can fly from one end of the BZ to the other in under two hours. Planned UNFICYP II requirements listed that the aerial units should have the ‘capability to serve two separate areas simultaneously with basic FLIR for surveillance’. The surveillance safe range was specified as ‘5 km or 3000 feet above ground level’.

52  The Inframetrics camera pod was brought to UN Flight in 2003–4. The pod has a 7x zoom capability and its imagery is recorded on super-8 film. The FLIR has proven useful for surveillance of landing zones at night but in 2008 the FLIR was underused (only one night flight per month, on average).

53  Still, the United Nations retains the right to lodge complaints about incidents behind the CFL that might change the status quo or military balance. Two examples: significant construction within 400 metres of the CFL or the movement of large calibre weapons within 1000 metres of the CFL. OC Ops Squadron, ‘CCTV Assessment’, 26 November 2009, communicated to the author by email, 3 December 2009.

54  Maj. Gen. H. Figoli, UNFICYP Force Commander, UNFICYP Memorandum entitled ‘UNFICYP 860 Concept of Operations’, October 2004, p.1.

55  Ibid.

56  Conveyed directly to the author by UNFICYP officers. The 13 teams were deployed as follows: five teams in sector one, three in sector two, and five in sector four. Sector three ceased to exist when the Canadian contingent withdrew from Cyprus in 1993 and the neighbouring British Contingent simply absorbed Canada’s area of responsibility into its own.

57  The Sector 2 units in the FC’s Reserve are normally used to provide the security for UNPA when the Mobile Force Reserve (MFR) deploys. The MFR is rarely deployed in a public order capacity but has been forward based at the Ledra Palace Hotel during large demonstrations at the nearby LSX crossing. The MFR is used only as a last resort in the event of hostilities between the OPFORs or if demonstrators try to forcibly enter UN areas. Usually demonstrators can be contained by the Turkish Cypriot Police (TCP), the Cyprus Police Force (CYPOL), UNPOL, or the Sector Reserves. Normally, the MFR is kept out of sight so as not to antagonize the OPFORs or demonstrators.

58  High definition video cameras (typically defined as providing an image resolution of at least 1280 by 720 pixels) are now available for less than US$1000 per camera. Power might be a challenge in barren areas, so batteries may need to be frequently recharged, possibly by solar cells.

59  The mission’s lawyers prepared an analysis of the legal aspects of a possible UN installation of CCTV in Pyla in an unobtrusive spot but the study did not come down either way on the legality. Legal Advisor, Memo titled ‘Covert Electronic Video Surveillance – Legal Advice’, 2 May 2008.

60  The Maritime Security Line (MSL) is the 3000 metre seaward extension on both sides of the island of the BZ median. Vessels from both sides are advised not to cross the MSL. On the north shore the MSL is near Kokkina and on the south end of the Green line it is near Famagusta. Occasionally, fishing vessels and tourists allegedly cross the line and are apprehended by police boats of the other party, causing friction which the UN must help resolve. UNFICYP has no capacity to operate at sea. See ‘Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Operation in Cyprus’, UN Doc. S/1995/488 of 15 June 1995 and S/1999/657 of 8 June 1999.

61  Google Earth Professional allows the importation of shape files which can greatly improve the accuracy of the imagery. Higher resolution imagery could be purchased at roughly US$10/ km2 (e.g., from DigitalGlobe).

62  One rotation of UK forces in UNFICYP introduced GSR because the deployed unit was already using it in training. It proved to be a useful adjunct to monitoring the BZ during their tour of duty. Source: Comment to the author made in New York, 2008, by Col. Ian Sinclair (former UNFICYP Chief of Staff, 2004–6).

63  The UNFICYP budget was US$56 million for the UN fiscal year 2008–9. UNIFCYP, ‘UNFICYP Fact Sheet’ , ¼ graphic& lang ¼ l1.

64  The Green Line is merely 180 km long and Cyprus has a land mass of 9250 km2 with the BZ comprising only 3 per cent (280 km2). In comparison, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, has an east-to-west width of 1930 km and covers an area of 3.34 million km2 (the size of Western Europe).

65  For instance, in a six-month period from May to November in 2008, the number of military violations and other incidents was 352. ‘Report of the Secretary on United Nations Operation in Cyprus’, UN Doc. S/2008/744 of 28 November 2008, p.4.

66  The UN is showing evidence that it recognizes the need. The July 2009 ‘New Horizon paper’ identifies ‘critical shortages’ in ‘observation/surveillance, including high resolution; night operations capability; data management and analysis’. United Nations, Department of Peacekeeping Operations and Department of Field Support, A New Partnership Agenda: Charting a New Horizon for UN Peacekeeping, New York, July 2009, p.27. It also notes: ‘Moving from a troop-intensive to a more agile mission structure and approach will depend on the feasibility of sourcing the very enabling capabilities that are currently difficult to obtain. Rebalancing numbers of personnel with more mobile capacities or technological solutions may change cost structures; it will not necessarily lower them’ (p.28). The deployment of UAVs in the Congo mission in 2013 is an example of recent innovation and progress.


Keeping Watch Contents

Monitoring, Technology and Innovation in UN Peace Operations

(full contents)

       Foreword by Roméo A. Dallaire (pdf)

1     Introduction: Technology for peace (pdf) (pdf)

2     The evolution of peacekeeping (pdf)

3     Monitoring: The constant need (pdf)

4     Survey of technologies (pdf)

5     Aerial surveillance: Eye in the sky (pdf)

6     Traditional peacekeeping: cases (pdf)

7     Modern multidimensional peacekeeping: cases (pdf)

8     Current UN standards: Starting from near zero (pdf)

9     Challenges and problems (pdf)

10    Recommendations (pdf)

11    Conclusions (pdf)

KeepingWatch BookCover 250x377

  Book covers (front and back)

  Front matter (pdf)

  Figures from the book

   Appendices (pdf)

  References (pdf)



The contents of the book is now made available with the kind permission of the publisher, UN University Press.