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An Investigation of Use of Force by UN Peacekeeping Operations

Contact: Professor Siobhán Wills
Funder: British Academy

Viewed collectively the Rules of Engagement (ROE) of current UN missions suggest that the UN may be developing its own sui generis rules governing intentional use of deadly force in Chapter VII mandated peacekeeping missions, for use in both armed conflict and non-armed conflict contexts. Increasingly missions are permitted to use ‘deadly force’ not only to protect civilians but for a range of other purposes, including law enforcement. For example some missions are permitted to use 'deadly force,' if lesser means are ineffective, to ‘prevent or put a stop to acts of civil unrest' even when there is no threat to life and no armed conflict. International humanitarian law (IHL), international human rights law (IHRL), and the criminal law of many contributing States, prohibit the use of intentional deadly force against civilians, except to defend life. The project will analyse the ROE of five UN missions against IHL, IHRL and the UN’s own standards on use of force. It will also assess the effects of ROE in the field and the implications of this trend in robust ROE for international law.