United Nations Peacekeeping Intelligence

A. Walter Dorn

in The Oxford Handbook of National Security Intelligence

Published in print March 2010 | ISBN: 9780195375886
Published online September 2010 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

United Nations Peacekeeping Intelligence


This article discusses the United Nations and its peacekeeping intelligence. The United Nations has become a player in the global intelligence game. Given the inability of the UN to live up to its peace and security ideals, the disinclination of nations to share intelligence with it, the ad hoc nature of its responses to global crises, and its reluctance to consider itself as an intelligence-gathering organization, the UN's increasing involvement in the global intelligence came as a surprise. However, the UN has privileged access to many of the world's conflict zones, through its peacekeeping operations (PKOs). Its uniformed and civilian personnel serve as the eyes and the ears of the world in many hotspots. They report the latest developments at the frontiers of the world order and in the midst of civil war. In previous years, the UN relied heavily on overt surveillance through overt human intelligence. It employed direct monitoring and direct observation. Although human intelligence has helped resolved conflicts, overt human intelligence is not sufficient. With the new mandate and the difficult and dangerous environment of many PKOs during the Cold War, the United Nations was forced to change and reform its approach to intelligence. The UN is now including imagery intelligence (IMINT) and signals intelligence (SIGINT) in their approach to intelligence and is currently developing intelligence structures within its missions. Topics discussed in this article include: case studies of peacekeeping operations of the UN in countries with conflict such as Korea, Namibia, and Congo; monitoring technologies of the institution; and intelligence cycle of UN.

Keywords: United Nations; peacekeeping intelligence; global intelligence; peacekeeping operations; overt surveillance; overt human intelligence; case studies; peacekeeping; monitoring technologies; intelligence cycle

Article.  9490 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; International Relations

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