The mandates of contemporary United Nations Peacekeeping missions are increasingly robust, often authorizing a range of activities far beyond those historically envisioned as within the remit of UN peacekeepers. For instance, the mandate for the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) includes the authorization to “carry out targeted offensive operations through the Intervention Brigade [...] [to] prevent the expansion of all armed groups, neutralize these groups, and disarm them.” This expansion has resulted in a number of legal and operational challenges, including the core question of the application of international humanitarian law to UN peacekeeping contingents. The involvement of UN peacekeepers in hostilities raises a host of issues, including:
- What legal framework involves the use of force on the part of the peacekeepers?
- What protection, if any, are the peacekeepers afforded under international law?
- What is the threshold for the application of international humanitarian law?
- What is the temporal and geographic scope of the application of international humanitarian law?
This session addressed the fundamental issue of under what circumstances international humanitarian law regulates UN peacekeepers, including a discussion when and for how long international humanitarian law applies in a specific context.