The UN Security Council is reluctant to make access to assessed contributions (funded by Member States) a standard practice, despite a general consensus that peace enforcement operations, such as African Union missions, are those that the United Nations cannot and should not carry out. More recently, regional participation in peacekeeping operations has also increased. In January 2015, the African Union agreed that states in the region would assume responsibility for at least 25% of operating costs. Such participation requires closer and more strategic cooperation, as the Secretary-General stressed when he called on Member States to urgently consider how to respond to this initiative. Nevertheless, deep concerns about the behaviour and effectiveness of the continuation of the financial allocation by the United Nations will remain crucial (UN 2015b: 11). Growing attacks on UN peacekeeping forces and allegations that the UN has not done enough to protect civilians, particularly in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic and South Sudan, led the Secretary-General to set up a high-level independent body in 2014 to verify UN peacekeeping. In its June 2015 report, the group reaffirmed the fundamental principles of peacekeeping and stressed that all conflicts were political and should be accompanied by a political strategy. They called on the Security Council and Member States to reconcile mandates with modern resources and capabilities, and drew a line under UN peacekeeping operations in the fight against terrorism. Since the end of the Cold War, United Nations peacekeeping operations have undergone rapid changes and developments.
The thaw between the superpowers in the 1990s led to the approval of an increasing number of UN peacekeeping operations. In addition to controlling elections, starting with Namibia in 1989 and Cambodia in 1993, more and more operations have been set up to deal with internal conflicts, which have received broader mandates and different civil authorities. After failures to protect the civilian population in Somalia, Bosnia and Rwanda in the early 1990s, increasingly strong mandates were given to operations, starting with the operation launched in Sierra Leone in 1999 (UNAMSIL). Since the adoption of Security Council Resolution 1325 in 2000, UN peacekeeping operations have attempted to prevent and mitigate the GSM, but with little success. The SGBV is a recurring problem of conflict, with frequent reports of sexual exploitation and abuse leading to a poor record of UN peacekeeping operations in this area. In 2015, the Secretary-General took an unprecedented step in dismissing the head of the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), who failed to take steps to prevent repeated cases of sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers. In his report on the body`s recommendations, the Secretary-General promised to “recover quotas if a pattern of abuse or non-response to allegations of misconduct is established” (2015b: 49). As a result of this development, dilemmas are growing as to how peacekeeping operations can be conducted without violating their fundamental principles. In 2013, MONUSCO – the UN peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) – was mandated to “neutralize” several identified rebel groups and became part of the conflict. The tendency to authorize operations to help the government expand the authority of the state can also put operations in a difficult situation with the local population.