United Nations Department of Peace Operations
FormationMarch 1992[1][2]
HeadquartersUnited Nations Headquarters
Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations
Jean-Pierre Lacroix
Parent organization
United Nations Secretariat
SubsidiariesOffice of Operations, Office of Rule of Law and Security Institutions, Office of Military Affairs, Policy, Evaluation and Training Division

The Department of Peace Operations (DPO) (French: Département des opérations de maintien de la paix) is a department of the United Nations charged with the planning, preparation, management and direction of UN peacekeeping operations. Previously known as the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), it was created in March 1992, as part of a restructuring of the UN's peace and security apparatus.[3] The DPO retains the core functions and responsibilities of its predecessor, with a greater emphasis on cohesion, integrating different resources and knowledge, and promoting human rights.[3]

With an annual budget of roughly $6.5 billion,[4] the DPO is the largest UN agency by expenditure, exceeding the UN's own regular budget.[5] As of March 2020, it oversees 81,370 personnel serving in thirteen peacekeeping missions.[6]


The DPO traces its roots to 1948 with the creation of the United Nations Military Observer Group for India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) and the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO). Up to the late 1980s, peacekeeping missions were operated by six officials in the United Nations Office of Special Political Affairs, which was headed first by Under-Secretary-General Ralph Bunche, and subsequently Brian Urquhart and Marrack Goulding.[7] From the beginning, peacekeeping operations operated with a clear doctrine that applied to its traditional or classical peacekeeping operations for inter-state ceasefires: peacekeepers did not take sides or discharge firearms, save in self-defense, or meddle in politics.

The Department of Peacekeeping Operations was created in March 1992 when Boutros Boutros-Ghali took office as Secretary-General of the United Nations; its creation was one of his first decisions.[8] In organisational terms, it upgraded and expanded upon the work of the previous Field Administration and Logistics Division (FALD) (which remained active as a subordinate department).[9] Goulding became under-secretary-general (or USG) for peacekeeping with Kofi Annan appointed as his deputy. The role of the DPKO, however, wasn't clarified until June 1992, when Boutrous-Ghali issued An Agenda for Peace, a plan to strengthen the UN's capacity for preventive diplomacy and peacekeeping.

French nationals have served as Under-Secretaries-General for Peacekeeping Operations since 1997.[10]

Organizational structure

Indian Peacekeeper with a child in Congo (for MONUSCO mission), 2000

DPO is split into two main offices: the Office of Operations and the Office of Mission Support (OMS).

Included within the Office of Mission Support are the logistics and administrative divisions, which provide logistics, personnel, and financial support services to DPO missions. OMS is responsible for determining financial reimbursement to UN member states for their contribution of Contingent owned equipment, troops, and services to peacekeeping missions. Letters of Assist are an important part of this. Also part of DPO are Mine Action, Training, Best Practices, and Military and Police Divisions.

A March 2007 United Nations General Assembly Resolution titled “Strengthening the capacity of the Organization in Peacekeeping Operations” has called for the re-structuring of the department and the establishment of a separate Department of Field Support. Whereas the new entity serves as a key enabler by coordinating the administration and logistics in UN peacekeeping operations, DPO concentrates on policy planning and providing strategic directions.[citation needed]

This re-organisation was paralleled by a DPO reform effort launched in 2005 entitled 'Peace Operations 2010', which further pursues reforms initiated by the 'Brahimi Report' Report of the Panel on United Nations Peacekeeping Operations. This included an increase in personnel, the harmonization of the conditions of service of field and headquarters staff, the development of guidelines and standard operating procedures, and improving the partnership arrangement between the Department of Peace Operations (DPO) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), African Union and European Union. One area of this reform effort has been the development of clearer internal doctrine or guidance for UN peacekeeping. The highest level DPO doctrine document was issued in 2008, known as the 'capstone' doctrine.[11]

Very recently with the newest reform efforts, Secretary-General Guterres has made efforts to streamline peacekeeping efforts to conserve finances, and eliminate excess and unnecessary roles. Shared regional divisions of the DPA and DPO will restructure and remove duplication of tasks, allowing for more manpower to be available for new initiates and existing operations. This gives the department more resources and responsibilities for broader peace building efforts, which are of course by their nature linked to political analysis and strategy (Cliffe, 2018). While peacekeeping operations are at an all-time high, and funding continues to receive budget cuts, efficiency measures will allow peacekeeping operations to remain intact. Removing duplications will allow for a wider spectrum of support to be available for troops on the ground.

List of heads

The following is a chronological list of those who have held the position of Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations:[12]

No. Portrait Name
Term of office Country Secretary-General Ref.
Took office Left office Time in office
1 Marrack Goulding
March 1992 28 February 1993 11 months  United Kingdom Boutros Boutros-Ghali [13]
2 Kofi Annan
1 March 1993 31 December 1996 3 years, 9 months  Ghana [14]
3 Bernard Miyet
(born 1946)
28 January 1997 30 September 2000 3 years, 8 months  France Kofi Annan [15]
4 Jean-Marie Guéhenno
(born 1949)
1 October 2000 30 June 2008 7 years, 8 months [16]
5 Alain Le Roy
(born 1953)
30 June 2008 25 August 2011 3 years, 1 month Ban Ki-moon [17]
6 Hervé Ladsous
(born 1950)
2 September 2011 31 March 2017 5 years, 6 months [18]
7 Jean-Pierre Lacroix
(born 1960)
1 April 2017 Incumbent 7 years, 2 months António Guterres [19]


The bulk of peacekeeping operations funding is appropriated much like the general budget, but permanent members of the Security Council are required to pay a larger share, and all states are free to contribute additional funding, equipment, or other services to missions of their respective choices.[20][21]

Current UN Peacekeeping Operations budget for the fiscal year 1 July 2021 - 30 June 2022 amounts for $6.38 billion.

This amount finances 10 of the 12 ongoing UN peacekeeping missions, along the liquidation of the UN African Union Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) and logistics support for the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), providing the technology, logistics and general support to all peace operations through global service centres in Brindisi (Italy) and a regional service centre in Entebbe (Uganda).

The UN Truce Supervision Organisation (UNTSO) and the UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) are excluded from the Peacekeeping Operations budged and are financed through the regular UN budget.

The top 5 providers of assessed contributions to the UN Peacekeeping Operations budget for 2020-2021 are: United States (27.89%), China (15.21%), Japan (8.56%), Germany (6.09%), and United Kingdom (5.79%)

Current operations

As of 2010, DPO leads 16 different missions in Africa, the Caribbean, the Middle East, Americas, Europe and Asia.[22] Serving in these missions are over 100,000 uniformed and civilian personnel. Total approved annual expenses are over US$5 billion for the period July 2006 to June 2007.[23]

"The Surge"

At an October 2006 press conference, then USG Jean-Marie Guéhenno announced that peacekeeping operations had reached an all-time high, and will continue to expand as UNIFIL and UNMIT reach full strength, and if a UN mission enters Darfur.[24]

See also


  1. ^ "History of UN Peacekeeping - Factsheet" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2017-06-03.
  2. ^ Findlay, Trevor (2002). The Use of Force in UN Peace Operations (PDF). SIPRI, Oxford University Press. p. 164. Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 August 2020.
  3. ^ a b "UN reform: Two new departments for the peace and security pillar | Permanent Missions". www.un.int. Retrieved 2019-06-26.
  4. ^ "A/C.5/73/21 - E - A/C.5/73/21". undocs.org. Retrieved 2020-08-11.
  5. ^ Expenditure by agency, 2018
  6. ^ "DATA". United Nations Peacekeeping. Retrieved 2020-08-11.
  7. ^ "UN. Office for Special Political Affairs". UN Archives and Records Management Section. Retrieved 18 March 2017.
  8. ^ Findlay, Trevor (2002). The Use of Force in UN Peace Operations (PDF). Oxford University Press. p. 164.
  9. ^ Hill, S. (2004-10-01). United Nations Disarmament Processes in Intra-State Conflict. Springer. pp. 246 (note 87). ISBN 9780230502963.
  10. ^ Jeffrey Feltman (October 29, 2020), Restoring (some) impartiality to UN senior appointments Brookings Institution.
  11. ^ "Peacekeeping Resource Hub" (PDF). pbpu.unlb.org. Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  12. ^ "Transparency in the selection and appointment of senior managers in the United Nations Secretariat (A/66/380)". 27 September 2011. p. 42.
  13. ^ "Secretary-General Saddened by Death of Sir Marrack Goulding, Key Figure in Creating Department of Peacekeeping Operations". www.un.org. Retrieved 2019-04-30.
  14. ^ "KOFI ANNAN, UNITED NATIONS SECRETARY-GENERAL | Meetings Coverage and Press Releases". www.un.org. Retrieved 2019-05-13.
  15. ^ "Secretary-General Announces New Appointments". www.un.org. 28 January 1997. SG/A/627. Retrieved 2019-04-30.
  17. ^ "SECRETARY-GENERAL APPOINTS NEW PEACEKEEPING CHIEF, ALAIN LE ROY OF FRANCE". www.un.org. 30 June 2008. SG/A/1142. Retrieved 2019-05-13.
  18. ^ "Secretary-General Appoints Hervé Ladsous of France Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations". www.un.org. 2 September 2011. SG/A/1305. Retrieved 2019-05-13.
  19. ^ "Mr. Jean-Pierre Lacroix of France - Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations". United Nations Secretary-General. 2017-02-14. Retrieved 2019-04-30.
  20. ^ "How we are funded". United Nations Peacekeeping. Retrieved 2023-05-31.
  21. ^ "Financing of UN Peacekeeping Operations". un.org. Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  22. ^ "Where we operate". Retrieved 2024-01-30.
  23. ^ "Background Note - United Nations Peacekeeping Operations". un.org. Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  24. ^ "Top UN peacekeeping official warns of 'overstretch' as mission staff numbers surge: Press conference by Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Marie Guéhenno". un.org. Retrieved 11 April 2018.

Further reading