Peace operations implement a wide range of mandated tasks and vary greatly in terms of their capacities, duration and the way they end. Exit strategies and transitions form an important aspect of the current discussion on the sustainability of achieved impact.
In order to take a closer look at how and why peace operations end, ZIF has analysed data from 168 United Nations (UN) Peacekeeping Operations (PKOs) and Special Political Missions (SPMs) that have started or ended since 1989, as well as military operations and civilian missions of the European Union's Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) since 2003.
The triggers for transition and for the end of missions – and what follows – can differ significantly from case to case (table on the right). The evolution in the number and duration of missions (below) shows that after the 1990s, UN PKOs tended to continue with new or adapted mandates rather than drawing to a close and being replaced by a new mission. While the number of new PKOs therefore decreased significantly, the average duration of terminated PKOs increased from only two years in the 1990s to 7.8 years in the 2010s. Of note is also that civilian CSDP missions accounted for the majority of new missions in 2003-2005, but were much shorter than UN missions of the same period.