Peace Operations


Since 1945 the United Nations has developed important but imperfect tools for conflict prevention, management and resolution. One major tool, peace operations—what the UN continues to call peacekeeping—can be defined as

the deployment of international military, police and civilian personnel to an area of conflict,
with the consent of the main parties to the conflict,
acting impartially and using force primarily in a defensive manner, in order to:
(1) stop or contain conflict; (2) help implement a peace agreement; and/or (3) rebuild war-torn societies.

Peace operations typically have one or more of the following components: peace-making (negotiation to reach a ceasefire or peace agreement); peace-building (developing the physical and social infrastructure for a sustainable peace); humanitarian assistance (keeping the population alive while a peace is being worked out); traditional peacekeeping (observing and separating combatants, providing security); peace enforcement (bringing recalcitrant parties into compliance, usually by applying armed force). Usually, peace operations occur near the end of a conflict, but preventive deployments can occur even before a conflict has broken out (e.g., Macedonia 1992-1998) and some peace operations find themselves stuck in the middle of a raging conflict (e.g., Bosnia 1992-95).

Peacekeeping has experienced remarkable successes (e.g., in Cambodia, Central America, Mozambique, East Timor) and difficult failures (especially in 1993-95 with missions in Somalia, Bosnia, and Rwanda). The majority of operations have been mixed successes. Even the failures point to the importance of having an international presence in the field.

Can this instrument of the international community be made more effective? Dr. Dorn specializes in how information, intelligence and technology can be used to increase early warning, situational awareness and rapid reaction in UN operations. In particular, high-tech monitoring has the potential to vastly increase the UN’s capacity but the technologies have been rarely used.

Dr. Dorn briefed UN member states in the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations (C34) and the leadership of the UN’s Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) on ways to improve the UN’s technological capability, offering concrete recommendations, some of which have been implemented. His DPKO-commissioned work, Tools of the Trade? Monitoring and Surveillance Technologies for UN Peacekeeping (pdf), was tabled by DPKO to the C34, as well as presented orally (PPT). In its 2007 report (para. 45), the C34 welcomed the study, which then formed the basis for several UN projects. In 2011, Dr. Dorn published a book on the subject: Keeping Watch: Monitoring, Technology and Innovation in UN Peace Operations In 2014, he served on a UN Panel of Experts on Technology and Innovation in UN Peacekeeping, which produced the report Performance Peacekeeping: technology and innovation in UN peacekeeping (2015) (pdf 11 MB).

His initiative to improve peace operations is continuing, with new opportunities for academic insight and international service constantly being explored. Some results are as follows.



Air Power in UN Operations (Workshop PPT/pdf)
Evolution of peace operations: overview (pdf)
Early observer missions (pdf)
First UN Force: UNEF, 1956-67 (pdf)
Multidimensional missions and Transitional administrations (to come)
Technology to Enhance Peace Operations (pdf, 3.1 MB) (ppt, 4.4 MB)

Schematic org chart (pdf, 160 KB) of a typical multidimensional UN peacekeeping operation



Country/case Studies
Bosnia (pdf)
Central African Republic (opinion piece, 2016)
Congo (1960-64)
Cyprus (html) (pdf)
Zaire (1996)

Themes (selected)
Air Power (book, bibliography, 2011 symposium PPT/pdf)

     Quotes on Canadian Peacekeeping
Mandates of peace operations:
      Multidimensional missions (pdf)
      Non-Multidimenstional (traditional) missions (pdf)
      Conferences, Institutions and Recent Publications 
      Give the Peacekeepers Tools They Need (National Post op-ed) (html)
      High-tech peacekeeping (html) (pdf)
     Keeping Watch: Monitoring, Technology & Innovation in UN Peace Operations  (html link)
     Smart Peacekeeping: Toward Tech-Enabled Operations (pdf, 1.4  MB, IPI webpage

All publications on peace operations by W. Dorn (most recent list)



Text, Photos & PPT Presentations:
East Timor (1999)
Haiti (2008)
Cyprus (2009)



Canadian Peacekeeping Bibliography

Primary Source documents (Canada, UN, US), including doctrinal manuals on peace operations

Training materials (UN, UN videos, etc)

Technology Source Book: Enabling Technologies for UN Peacekeeping Operations, Department of Defence, Washington, DC., 2015 (pdf)



Bruls, Fred, Human Security Intelligence: Implications of its Complexities for Peace Support Operations In the 21st Century, 80 pp. (pdf)
This excellent Masters’ paper by Major Fred Bruls of The Netherlands puts forward and explores the new concept of Human Security Intelligence, and how it can form a new and important approach to intelligence in peace operations. As shown, a whole range of new factors need to be taken into account beyond the traditional security indicators. I (Dr. Dorn) had the honour of serving as the supervisor for this Master of Defence Studies research project.






Dorn OfficersMessPortrait TC2014-0051-34 531x600 Brighter Compressed Sept2014

Walter Dorn is Professor of Defence Studies at the Royal Military College of Canada (RMC) and the Canadian Forces College (CFC). He is also President of the World Federalist Movement – Canada (WFMC).

He previously served as Chair (2008–2013) of Canadian Pugwash, an organization of physical, life and social scientists seeking to reduce the threats to global security. He currently sits on the organization’s Board of Directors.

Dr. Dorn is a scientist by training (with a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the Univ. of Toronto), whose doctoral research assisted with chemical sensing for arms control. He participated in the negotiation, ratification and implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) while working at Parliamentarians for Global Action (1992–93). He addressed parliamentary bodies on several continents and drafted a parliamentary declaration on the ratification and implementation of the treaty that was signed by over a thousand parliamentarians.

His interests are now broader, covering both international and human security, especially UN field operations for peacekeeping and peace enforcement.

At the Canadian Forces College he teaches officers of rank Major to Brigadier-General from Canada and over 20 other countries in the areas of arms control, Canadian foreign and defence policy, the ethics of war, peace operations and international security. He has served as Chair of RMC’s Master of Defence Studies (MDS) programme and at CFC as: the Deputy Director for Graduate Studies; Chair of the Department of Security and International Affairs; and Deputy Director for Outreach and Community Development.

As an “operational professor,” he seeks direct experience in field missions. In 1999, he served as a district electoral officer with the United Nations Mission in East Timor. He has also served with the United Nations in Ethiopia (UNDP project), at UN headquarters as a Training Adviser and three times as a consultant with the UN’s Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO). He has carried out DPKO-sponsored research in conflict areas in Central and South America, Africa and South East Asia. In 2010, during a sabbatical, he was a Visiting Professional in the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague. In 2014, he was appointed to the UN’s Expert Panel on Technology and Innovation in UN Peacekeeping. In 2017-18, he worked in the UN Department of Field Support as the “Innovation and Protection Technology Expert.”

He has served as the UN Representative of Science for Peace, a Canadian NGO, since 1983 and addressed the UN General Assembly at its Third UN Special Session on Disarmament in 1988. In the United States, he was a Senior Research Fellow at Cornell University (Einaudi Centre for International Studies, 1998–2000), a consultant to UN Studies at Yale (1996), a visiting scholar at the Cooperative Monitoring Centre (Sandia National Laboratories, New Mexico, 1999) and an adviser to the Federation of American Scientists (Biological Weapons Control expert group, 1990). At the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre, he was a member of the directing staff and taught the course, “Live, Move and Work: Technology and Engineering in Modern Peacekeeping” (1999–2001).

At the University of Toronto, he was a Research Fellow with the International Relations Programme and with the Peace and Conflict Studies Programme, and the Physical Science Don at Trinity College. In 2001/02 he was awarded the inaugural Human Security Fellowship by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT).

He has written several books, including Keeping Watch: Monitoring, Technology, and Innovation in UN Peace Operations, and most recently edited the volume, Air Power in UN Operations: Wings for Peace.  He is hoping to “someday soon” complete a book on a broader theme, possibly titled “The Emerging Global Watch: UN Monitoring for International Peace and Human Security.” It will analyse the expansion of the UN’s monitoring of conflicts, ceasefires, elections, human rights, sanctions, enforcement and global security generally.


CV – Academic format (pdf)
List of publications (html) (pdf
List of presentations (html) (pdf
Resumé (available upon request)



Canadian Who’s Who Bio
(Annually, incl. 100th Anniversary Ed., pdf)     


Google Scholar Profile (including citations and h-index)

Letter of commendation (pdf) from Luis Moreno-Ocampo, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (2003-2012)

Official portraits

PROFILE: Becoming a Peace Researcher: A Profile of Walter Dorn (1996)

The Toronto Star: “From Student to Success Story” — biographical blurb (Star) (html) (pdf)

Personal experiences and thoughts (including poetry)



Canadian Forces College

Royal Military College of Canada (RMCC)

Wikipedia bio



Website search page or add the term to a Google search with other terms of your own.

Many thanks go to Lisa Plekhanova, Jamie Osborne and Ken Simons for the design and upkeep of this site.


Dr. Walter Dorn
Canadian Forces College
215 Yonge Blvd., Toronto ON 
M5M 3H9  Canada

Tel: (416) 482-6800





Called peacekeeping by the United Nations, peace operations are an essential but problematic instrument for conflict prevention, management and resolution. Peacekeeping has had some remarkable successes  (e.g., in Cambodia, Central America, Mozambique, East Timor) and some difficult failures (the 1993-95 missions in Somalia, Bosnia, and Rwanda). The majority of operations have been qualified successes. Outside intervention in conflicts, even with the best of intentions, can have some negative consequences yet peace operations still have much to offer. How can this instrument of the international community be made more effective? Dr. Dorn explores some possibilities.

>> Peace Operations research page

He published the book Keeping Watch: Technology and Innovation in UN Peace Operations and edited the volume Air Power in UN Operations: Wings for Peace. Also available on this site: other relevant Publications and some Presentations (PPT) of his.



Decisions by nations or armed groups to fight are life-and-death judgements informed by and sometimes determined by ethical principles and religious beliefs. All world religions provide guidelines on when armed force is justified. Are the permissions and prohibitions similar among religions? This research seeks to map out the range of religious approaches to armed force.

>> Religions on War and Peace research page




To better understand what makes people, organizations and nations use violence or armed force against adversaries, this project examines various ethical and moral justifications used in past and present conflicts and wars. Understanding pre-conflict justifications can help identify important early-warning indicators of pending conflict. By examining the grievances and justifications of potential adversaries, a wider range of prevention and mitigation strategies can become apparent. Just war theory provides a set a general criteria to examine the many reasons, valid or invalid, used to justify war and armed force.

Just War research page


Walter Dorn also conducts research in other areas, including:  arms control (publications); intelligence studies; the United Nations and international criminal law.  He has a major research project on the UN’s mediation during the Cuban Missile Crisis.


For research on national/international security, especially relating to Canada, the US, and the UN, he has compiled a useful list of primary source documents (with full text links).  Some useful online links are provided in this list (to be developed).