POLICY BRIEF 2017:1 Leading United Nations Peace Operations

This Policy Brief tries to isolate what is meant by good leadership and the nature of its different characteristics, styles and competencies and then apply these to the UN context.

Leading is a process of influence and can be learned despite an individual’s personal temperament. However, leading in the context of a UN peace operation, because of its complexity, requires refined skill sets. The demanding context and the competencies of leading UN peace operations are discussed with observations on what good leadership should look like in the mission environment and how it can be achieved. This Policy Brief ends with a set of findings about UN leadership coupled with associated questions for consideration and discussion.

Maj. Gen. Robert Gordon is Senior Adviser to the Challenges Forum and former Force Commander of UNMEE. He had a full career in the British Army, culminating in command of the British Army in Scotland and the North of England. He now works on contract with the UN and others as a lecturer, mentor and adviser on peace operations. General Gordon was a key contributor to the UN’s first strategic level doctrine for peacekeeping, ‘the Capstone Doctrine’, an Editor and the Senior Adviser for the Challenges Forum’s Considerations for Mission Leadership in UN Peacekeeping Operations, and is the facilitating mentor on UN DPKO’s senior mission leadership training programme, and the UN’s SMART programme for senior mission support staff.