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17 May 2023

Conflicting obligations? The participation of EU member states in UN peacekeeping operations under international law

Conor Foley

Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro

Conor Foley

On Wednesday, May 17th, we had the pleasure of hosting Professor Conor Foley from Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio) at the Rio School on Global Governance, Democracy, and Human Rights. The activity was organised by the FGV Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence on EU-South America Global Governance and co-funded by the European Commission under the Erasmus+ Programme.

Professor Conor Foley delivered a lecture on the participation of EU member states in UN peacekeeping operations and the complexities of navigating conflicting legal obligations. The lecture delved into historical events, shedding light on the United Nations' primary objective of maintaining international peace and security through the use of coercive measures under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, authorised by the United Nations Security Council.

Drawing attention to the legal obligations that the states must consider, including the paramount respect for human rights and adherence to international humanitarian law, Professor Foley provided insights on striking a delicate balance between upholding these obligations and actively contributing to peacekeeping operations.

The lecture analysed specific cases where UN missions failed to protect civilian populations, notably in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Rwanda, emphasising the critical need for clarity surrounding the legal circumstances in which UN peacekeeping soldiers are authorised to employ force for protective purposes. Prof. Foley underscored the existence of legal mechanisms aimed at holding peacekeepers accountable for any failure to fulfil their responsibilities. This acknowledgement further emphasised the weight of their roles and the imperative of accountability in preserving international peace and security.

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