Academic journal article Global Governance

The Group of 8 and Global Peacekeeping, 2004-2010

Academic journal article Global Governance

The Group of 8 and Global Peacekeeping, 2004-2010

Article excerpt

PEACEKEEPING HAS BEEN A RELATIVELY NEW AGENDA ITEM FOR THE GROUP OF 8 (G8). (1) The group's attention to peacekeeping can be traced back to three movements from the late 1990s that were in and around the G8. The G8's active role in conflict prevention and management, especially in the Kosovo crisis, highlighted the potential role that it could play in this field. In the same period, several G8 countries also started global initiatives to organize peacekeeping capacity-building programs. And from the early 2000s, the G8's outreach to African leaders and their discussion of problems of peace and security in the continent led the group to lay out an action plan for assistance to African peacekeeping. All of these movements prepared the ground for a landmark action plan adopted at the 2004 Sea Island summit--G8 Action Plan: Expanding Global Capability for Peace Support Operations (hereafter, PSO Action Plan). Furthermore, the years between 2004 and 2010 saw G8 members actively discuss diverse aspects of peacekeeping on a regular basis.

In this article, I examine the G8's contribution to global peacekeeping. There is, however, something counterintuitive about the relationship between peacekeeping and the G8. This arises from the fact that the G8 is not the sort of international institution that has been and perhaps ever will be equipped with necessary powers and resources to organize, deploy, and maintain actual peacekeeping missions. Major peacekeeping organizers such as the United Nations (UN), European Union (EU), and African Union (AU) as well as troops contributors (states) all draw such powers from their formal decision-making processes (e.g., the UN Security Council) and institutional machineries (Departments of Peacekeeping and Field Support). In contrast, the G8 does not have a standing secretariat, nor is it founded on a charter or some equivalent document that could make its decisions binding on its members. The G8 is an official (Track 1), and yet essentially informal, international institution that lacks necessary rules and supporting structures for authorizing, organizing, and deploying peacekeeping missions.

The question here, then, is how can the G8 be said to make an impact in the field of peacekeeping even though it lacks the very institutional foundation that enables peacekeeping activities? This question has not been addressed in the academic literature. Indeed, though mentioned in G8 research (2) and studies that look at major peacekeeping capacity-building programs, (3) the whole issue of the G8 and peacekeeping has received little scholarly attention on its own. (4) The dearth of academic analysis, in turn, suggests a broader assumption: only formal operational institutions matter in peacekeeping. This is evidenced by recent debates on peacekeeping partnerships that focus almost exclusively on such institutions. (5)

However, the fact that the G8 is not an operational peacekeeping actor does not diminish its role altogether. Instead of assuming that the lack of operational capability disqualifies the G8 as a peacekeeping actor, I argue that seeing the G8 as an informal international institution enables analysis of its role in global peacekeeping. Political processes, whether domestic or international, are not confined to formal institutions like state organs and intergovernmental organizations: they do play important, even central roles, but a diverse range of informal institutions and networks are also increasingly relevant. (6) Given that formal institutions continue to be central in global peacekeeping, one way of measuring the G8's contribution and potential role is to examine its relations with the formal institutions that organize and deploy peacekeeping missions.

Drawing insights from comparative politics literature on informal institutions, I discuss what sort of relationship the G8 has formed with formal peacekeeping institutions. I argue specifically that the G8 plays a potentially useful role complementary to formal operational actors by facilitating peacekeeping capacity-building efforts on the global scale, but that the record of its activities shows this potential has been only partially realized. …

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