Since the end of the Cold War United Nations (UN) authorised peacekeeping missions have tended to be not only more complex, but also much more interventionist and more robust than could ever have been imagined in the early days of peacekeeping.1 However, because peacekeeping is not explicitly provided for under the UN Charter, and has developed ad hoc in response to changing perceptions as to the nature of the role and responsibilities of peacekeeping missions, it is often unclear what laws are applicable to peacekeeping missions and when those laws apply. This paper explores the implications of that lack of clarity, focusing in particular on gaps in the international law regulating the conduct of peacekeepers. The author argues that the current approach, whereby prosecution for crimes committed by peacekeepers is dealt with primarily through the domestic law of the Troop Contributing State, is unsatisfactory, and is likely to remain unsatisfactory despite efforts to persuade Contributing States’ to establish the legal and administrative frameworks necessary to prosecute and punish their troops for crimes committed outside their territorial borders. A convention based regime specifically tailored to ensuring that peacekeepers are held accountable to internationally agreed standards would be the most effective way of enabling the UN to comply with the rule of law standards it itself espouses.
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