News Release

Is the UN Working for Peace?


President Obama and other heads of state address the United Nations General Assembly today as it begins its 70th session. Video feed:

DAVID SWANSON, david at,  @davidcnswanson
Swanson is author of  When the World Outlawed WarWar Is A Lie and Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency. He just wrote the piece “The UN: Pretending to Oppose War for 70 Years.”

MEL DUNCAN, mduncan at, @Peaceforce
Founding director and director of advocacy and outreach at Nonviolent Peaceforce, Duncan said today: “At a time when civilians are under increasing threat from war and violent conflict, today’s ‘Summit on Peacekeeping,’ co-hosted by President Obama, ignores an entire effective approach to protecting civilians while focusing on armed peacekeeping.

“Despite the fact that the High Level Independent Panel on United Nations Peace Operations asserted in their report issued in June that unarmed strategies must be at the forefront of UN efforts to protect civilians, member states participating in today’s summit have to bring commitments to armed peacekeeping. Over 95 percent of armed peacekeepers are under a protection of civilian mandate. In many cases militaries are not the most appropriate approach for protection of civilians.” See the report “Uniting Our Strengths for Peace: Politics, Partnership and People” PDF by the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office, chaired by José Ramos-Horta, former president of East Timor.

Duncan added: “The UN needs to scale up and deploy all effective methods to protect civilians. By only focusing on military peacekeeping the summit does not consider effective unarmed methods like unarmed civilian protection (UCP). Over a dozen nongovernmental organizations are directly protecting civilians and deterring violence through nonviolent methods in some of the most violent places on the planet including South Sudan, Palestine and Colombia.”