Conflict and Compromise: UN Integrated Missions and the Humanitarian Imperative

Originally published


The integrated mission has come into existence in the face of modern "total war", where the classic UN peacekeeping and humanitarian responses proved insufficient to support a sustainable war to peace transition. Integration is designed to streamline UN peace support processes and ensure that the objectives of all UN forces and agencies are channelled towards a common overarching goal. It is an approach that makes good organizational sense, but it is one that has raised significant objections from the humanitarian community, who have serious reservations about the placement of the UN humanitarian agencies under the same control structure as the political and military components of peace operations.

Throughout the 1990's, the reputation of humanitarian action as a moral "good" was co-opted by world leaders and academics who sought to cast "just" military intervention as "humanitarian" and thus apolitical in nature. For all their ideological similarities, however, peacekeeping and humanitarian assistance are two clearly distinct forms of action which often manifest divergent objectives and priorities.

This work examines the challenges inherent in integrated mission management, and seeks to identify ways in which the humanitarian and peacebuilding communities might compromise in order to build trust and maximize the benefits of integration in UN peacekeeping efforts.