In the fall of 1993, I began to research international crisis management in the former Yugoslavia. The more I read the crisis management literature, the more I realized that it was not fully relevant to the contemporary, “nontraditional” crises of the Yugoslav sort. It seemed that the nature of crisis and crisis management had grown much more complex and that, as a result, there were now many factors at play that did not appear in the existing literature. These factors included new players, such as nonstate actors and international organizations; new circumstances, such as war having already broken out at some level; and as time went on, new responses such as peace enforcement and peacebuilding, in addition to the more familiar diplomatic peacemaking and traditional peacekeeping of the Cold War.
I felt that understanding the role of these “peace support” operations in the management of nontraditional crises was important because crisis management in such contexts had been identified as a central goal by the international community. In its most recent Alliance Strategic Concept, for example, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) takes on the management of crises in circumstances that may arise from serious economic, social, and political difficulties, including ethnic and territorial disputes. What follows is my attempt to sort out the lines between the various operations and, in doing so, to contribute to the body of knowledge that seeks to improve the international community's ability to address the nontraditional crises that have come to characterize the post-Cold War era.