Decorating the “Christmas Tree”: The UN Security Council and the Secretariat’s Recommendations on Peacekeeping Mandates

Article by Kseniya Oksamytna and Magnus Lundgren.

Contemporary peacekeeping operations carry out many disparate tasks, which has triggered a debate about “Christmas Tree mandates.” Did the UN Secretariat or the UN Security Council drive this expansion? Using original data on nineteen UN peacekeeping missions, 1998–2014, this article compares peacekeeping tasks recommended by the Secretariat to those mandated by the Council. It finds that the two bodies expressed different preferences regarding the nature, number, and novelty of peacekeeping tasks. First, the Council dropped Secretariat-recommended tasks as often as it added new ones on its own initiative. Second, the two bodies disagreed more over peacebuilding and peacemaking tasks than over peacekeeping tasks. Third, the Council preferred to be the one to introduce novel tasks that had not appeared in previous mandates. Finally, among the countries that “held the pen” on peacekeeping resolutions, the United States was the most prone to dropping Secretariat-proposed tasks and the least willing to add tasks itself.

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