Southeast Asian states, both individually and collectively, are increasing their contributions to UNPKO. Although it would be easy to exaggerate the volume of UN Peace operatives contributed by the states of Southeast Asia the growth and number of their contribution is significant. In 1990 the ten states of Southeast Asia contributed only 20 troops amounting to less than 1% of the total number of UN contributions. However, by 2011 that contribution had grown to its peak of 5%.
Through these contributions Southeast Asian states have achieved notable successes. They have remained free from scandals affecting other national contingents, have a reputation for providing skilled and equipped personnel, have developed a division of regional labour in developing expertise, and have a network of peacekeeping training centres. Moreover, in a wider UN objective of incorporating humanitarian relief into peacekeeping operations, a number of regional peacekeepers (notably from Indonesia and Malaysia) have expertise in providing humanitarian focused non-combative peacekeeping. Why then are these states not viewed or treated as partners in peacekeeping within the UN? Why does their success and expertise get lost in the UN system? Or are their contributions and roles just unseen?
This paper explores the type of agency these states have within the UN system utilizing a framework amended from the literature on middle powers. It makes the argument that although Southeast Asian states are successful actors with the potential to contribute to the shaping peacekeeping operations and applying lessons identified from both peacekeeping and HADR, their ability to do so is stymied by the structures within the UN, but also the structures with the region.
About the Speaker:
Catherine Jones is a visiting research fellow with the Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) Programme, NTS Centre, RSIS. She is also an East Asia Research Fellow, Department of Politics and International Studies, University of Warwick, UK, where she has been since 2012. In September 2018, she will start a new role as a lecturer at St Andrews University, in Scotland.
Catherine’s field of research focuses on China’s engagement with international institutions and the potential normative contributions of East Asia as a rising region particularly with reference to security, peace and conflict norms. The central guiding question of my research to date has explored how emerging states are able to make normative as well as practical contributions to the current international order. During my time at Warwick, I have developed three areas of research: China and North Korean relations; China and Global Order; and Southeast Asian States and peacekeeping.