Peace missions are the main instrument of the United Nations (UN) to promote peace around the world. They are central to the lives of people in conflict contexts who are affected by violence. The decision on whether, where, and when to deploy a peace mission is taken by the UN Security Council. As an elected member of the UN Security Council for the years 2023 and 2024, Switzerland contributes to discussions and decisions on UN peace missions. But even before its membership, Switzerland has supported UN peace missions through civilian and military personnel, expertise, and training for several decades.
In the framework of a five-year research project “A Child of Its Time: The Impact of World Politics on United Nations Peace Missions” funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation, researchers from the Geneva Graduate Institute and ETH Zürich analyzed how a rapidly changing world marked by global power shifts and geopolitical competition influences UN peace missions. In this framework, they developed a comprehensive dataset on all UN peace missions that have ever existed: from the first mission deployed in 1948 to the Middle East to the most recent one deployed in 2020 to Sudan. This dataset on UN Peace Mission Mandates (UNPMM) includes information on the start and end dates, locations, mission types, mandate tasks, and overall objectives of UN peace missions.
The findings of the project and the dataset are now presented in a roving exhibition on UN peace missions that will be held in four Swiss cities (Geneva, Zürich, Basel, St. Gallen). The interactive exhibition will allow visitors to learn about the main facts and trends related to UN peace missions; explore the different types of activities they engage in; reflect on how to assess their effectiveness; and better understand Switzerland’s contribution to UN peace missions. The exhibition also shows videos with Swiss peace researchers and experts from contexts to which peace missions have been deployed.