United Nations Emergency Peace Service



This venture is of the greatest importance both to the UN as a responsible institution and to the millions as of yet unknown, innocent victims who might, in the future, be saved by this essential addition to the UN’s capacity to act on their behalf. There is one overwhelming argument for the United Nations Emergency Peace Service. It is desperately needed, and it is needed as soon as possible. – The late Sir Brian Urquhart, Former United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Special Political Affairs


The initiative for a United Nations Emergency Peace Service makes eminent sense as the UN is often hampered by its incapacity to respond rapidly to unfolding crises. This idea should now be pushed and supported widely. – Jean-Marie Guéhenno, past President, the International Crisis Group, former UN Under-Secretary General for Peacekeeping Operations


Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that a United Nations Emergency Peace Service capable of intervening in the early stages of a humanitarian crisis could save millions of lives, billions of dollars, and is in the interests of the United States. – U.S. Congress, H-Res 213


Labour will commit to effective UN peacekeeping, including support for a UN Emergency Peace Service. – British Labour Party Manifesto, For the Many, Not the Few, (London, 2017)


Very good idea, and I’m happy to support it. – Noam Chomsky, Laureate Professor of Linguistics at the University of Arizona and Institute Professor Emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)


We now all agree ‘never again.’ An international tool-kit to halt mass atrocities and implement R2P should contain a UN Emergency Peace Service, which could help governments utter ‘no more Holocausts, Cambodias, and Rwandas’—and occasionally even mean it. – Thomas G. Weiss, Presidential Professor of Political Science, Director Emeritus, Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies


A United Nations Emergency Peace Service (UNEPS) is an essential step toward a more effective UN and a truly global peace system. Who doesn’t know of the need for a more rapid and reliable UN capacity to help prevent armed conflict, protect civilians at grave risk and ensure the prompt start-up of complex Blue Helmet missions to build sustainable peace? Such a capacity might also help to rekindle the cooperation among Security Council members, essential for the maintenance of international peace and security. Once in place, UNEPS would also help instill the confidence necessary for wider disarmament efforts, and in turn, free up much-needed resources to address climate change and inequality. The time for UNEPS is now. – Peggy Mason, President, Rideau Institute, former Canadian Ambassador for Disarmament to the UN


UNEPS will no more prevent every international emergency or atrocity than a city police force prevents urban crimes or a fire brigade stops fires. But who would want to live in a city without a police force or fire brigade?  It is past time for a systematic study and consideration of the UNEPS proposal. – Michael W. Doyle, Columbia University, former special adviser to Secretary General Kofi Annan and chair of the UN Democracy Fund


Sooner or later we will have to have a global emergency service for ever-multiplying crises in the world- the sooner, the better. – Mary Kaldor, CBE, Professor of Global Governance, Department of International Development, Director of Civil Society and Human Security Research, The London School of Economics and Political Science


Peacekeeping has been one of the most significant ‘inventions’ in the search for containing and resolving some of the world’s most violent conflicts. It has evolved over many decades to adapt to the complex challenges presented by the many civil wars we have suffered since 1945. Despite its faults, we should not underestimate its achievements. Neither should we be complacent about the challenges ahead in responding to the violent conflicts now destroying lives and communities. The proposed United Nations emergency peace service is a more comprehensive and legitimate model – combining military capability with enhanced conflict resolution and peacebuilding expertise. Such a creative credible and pragmatic innovation is now a top priority for all who want to live in a cosmopolitan world where all are secure. –Tom Woodhouse, Professor of Conflict Resolution, University of Bradford, UK


Peter Langille offers a clear, practical and persuasive case for a UN Emergency Peace Service – and his argument reflects what is a much-needed but sadly lacking capacity. The argument should be a slam-dunk; narrow national interests and deep mistrust in states’ politics mean that innocent populations continue to suffer and die, when a UNEPS could help to alleviate or avoid needless suffering. Global civil society should press the case with their governments, and Langille’s study gives them the framework to use in this endeavour. – Dr. Alistair Edgar, Executive Director, Academic Council on the United Nations System, Associate Dean, School of International Policy & Governance, Balsillie School of International Affairs.


This initiative directly responds to the widely recognized need to protect people caught in deadly conflicts. I pleaded on numerous occasions for the rapid deployment of specialized forces. Effective, trained and specialized standing forces would have been invaluable. –Sadako Ogata, Former United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees


There is and always has been a very strong case for a standing UN rapid deployment force being available as a first responder in crisis situations– and Peter Langille here makes it powerfully. Although the resistance of key states to any such force now seems entrenched, good ideas and advocacy do sometimes prevail, and this is a debate we must continue to have. – Gareth Evans, Former Australian Foreign Minister, President Emeritus of the International Crisis Group, and Co-chair of the International Commission on Intervention & State Sovereignty and Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect


The barbarism the world has witnessed…cannot be allowed to define our time. I believe a permanent, highly-trained UN Peacekeeping Force, capable of rapid deployment by the Security Council in emergency situations, has now become essential… A UN emergency peace service – what might be called an international “911” –would, if established, protect civilians and prevent regional conflicts from turning into wars. We must express our global citizenship by protecting the most vulnerable in the global community.  This is a path to the culture of peace. – Douglas Roche, Former Ambassador for Disarmament, Senator and Parliamentarian


A United Nations Emergency Peace Service should enable immediate deployment into a mission area once the Security Council mandates a deployment. As a new capacity for preventive deployment and better protection of innocent civilians, a UNEPS would be invaluable to the UN and vulnerable people world-wide. To ensure credibility and legitimacy, there must also be wider representation on a reformed Security Council. – Lt Gen (Ret) Satish Nambiar, First Force Commander and Head of Mission UNPROFOR, member of the UN High Level Panel on “Threats, Challenges and Change”, and former Deputy Chief Indian Army


A United Nations Emergency Peace Service could be an effective tool in the quest for a more peaceful world. As a more legitimate UN first-responder, a UNEPS could be promptly deployed in emergency situations to protect vulnerable people around the globe, so that their plight doesn’t become an excuse for armed intervention by nations with their own agendas. In a rational world, this ingenious idea — developed by peace scholar Peter Langille — would be treated as an international priority. – Linda McQuaig, Canadian journalist and author of Holding the Bully’s Coat: Canada and the US Empire


If the objective is to protect people and prevent violence you send a legitimate credible UN presence to start a mission quickly- not wait for 4 to 6 months – then there is far less likelihood of people being murdered, or large scale massive ethnic cleansing. That suggests a dedicated UN mechanism including a range of services- military, police and civilian and capable of using force even when opposed to it – an entity that Peter Langille has called a UN Emergency Peace Service… – Lloyd Axworthy, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General


At a time of sharpening conflict, violent nationalisms, and great power competition, UN peacekeeping needs an upgrade. A UN Emergency Peace Service is vitally important to prevent conflicts from escalating and atrocities from taking place. With all the billions of dollars spent on war and preparations for war, surely we can afford to fund an effort devoted to preparing for peace. – John Feffer, Director, Foreign Policy In Focus


The UN Charter is the most important document ever signed by governments. And it’s the most Gandhian. UNEPS is so self-evident, logical and compatible with the Charter’s goals and principles that one must indeed wonder why it was not established long ago. It is spot-on what the UN – and thereby “we the peoples” – urgently need to do that is most important: Get into troubled areas quickly, do violence prevention and protect people. The earlier a UNEPS peace intervention, the easier it would be to solve any conflict and make peace by peaceful means as the world should according to the Charter’s Article 1. Jan Oberg, Dr & Director, The Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research, TFF, Lund, Sweden


Without a UN Emergency Peace Service, the cries of “never again” ring hollow. The genocides in Bosnia, Rwanda, Darfur, and today against the Rohingya in Myanmar – what will it take to transform the Responsibility to Protect into a reality? A rapid reaction capability is the fundamental litmus test for the global will to intervene against mass-atrocities. – Payam Akhavan, Professor of International Law at McGill University, Member of the International Court of Arbitration, and former UN prosecutor at The Hague.


Peter Langille thinks clearly about what a United Nations Emergency Peace Service might achieve, and how to get from here to there. That will be a long and rocky road, given the scarcity of resources and the usual obsessions about sovereignty, but he has given us a very useful road- map. – Gwynne Dyer, Author, military historian and independent journalist


The repeated experience of recent years, with conflicts and crises in so many countries, is that the establishment of a United Nations Emergency Peace Service is greatly overdue. The lack of a truly collective capability is a glaring limitation for the United Nations Organization and needs urgently to be rectified. Experience across the world, not least in the Middle East and sub- Saharan Africa, shows that a thoroughly professional standing force capable of a wide range of properly sanctioned rapid interventions could be of persistent value, not least in helping prevent crises escalating into major conflicts. – Professor Paul Rogers, Department of Peace

Studies, University of Bradford, UK


Serious consideration should be given to developing a UN Emergency Peace Service, which can serve as a rapidly deployable police and political expeditionary service, which in the long term could lessen dependence on UN Peacekeeping Missions. – The Stanley Foundation’s 50th Conference for Peace


A standing United Nations Emergency Peace Service is a necessary addition to the UN system to protect humanity from the abuses of unhinged national sovereignty and bad actors the world over. Human rights must be enforced and protected via an inclusive and accountable UNEPS. The current international order repeatedly tramples on the civil, political, economic, and social rights of people everywhere, there must be an end to injustice and the impunity of bad actors on the global stage. There must be a UN Emergency Peace Service. – Eston David McKeague, President, Young World Federalists


I fully support the development of a UN Emergency Peace Service as the experience of the last fifty years of UN Peacekeeping shows both the challenge of mobilizing the Member States, the mismatch between the information coming from conflict areas and the administration of the UN system, as well as the challenge of making urgent decisions with different actors, contributors and bureaucracies. In the meantime, innocent human lives are paying the price of non- intervention. Being from the Great Lakes region of Africa, terribly affected by conflicts, I know what such a system could bring to the whole world. — Dr Gérard Birantamije, Security Studies and International Relations, Postdoctoral fellow, Université Libre de Bruxelles


A UN Emergency Peace Service is an idea whose time has come. This highly credible proposal will allow the United Nations to bring succour to victims in a timely manner. – Erna Paris, Author, The Sun Climbs Slow: The International Criminal Court and the Struggle for Justice


This initiative is undoubtedly an indispensable plus for the efforts and capacities of the United Nations that has been created to promote world peace and security, especially in the struggle to prevent humanitarian crises with innocent victims of violence and conflict. – Shin-wha Lee, Professor of Korea University, President of Korea Academic Council on the UN System (KACUNS)


The world desperately needs a rapid and effective capability to save lives and alleviate human suffering in conflict areas, a kind of UN 9-11 service. The United Nations Emergency Peace Service (UNEPS) proposal is at the intellectual forefront of thinking on creating such capabilities. This may seem like a bold step at present, but in the future the world will look back and wonder why it was not done earlier. – Professor Walter Dorn, Canadian Forces College, President World-Federalist Movement – Canada, Past Chair Pugwash – Canada


The UNEPS initiative has the potential to become the most important step towards setting up the necessary hard-core element for operationalizing the Responsibility to Protect in cooperation with regional rapid deployment capabilities, and thus, of the regime for effective prevention of genocide and crimes against humanity as part of the emerging encompassing global regime for conflict prevention and peacebuilding. – Dr. Detlev Wolter, Author and former representative of Germany to the Special Committee of the UN General Assembly for Peacekeeping Operations and former Co-Chair of the Friends Group (34 UN member states) for Conflict Prevention


Many countries in the Global South are suspicious about any kind of international intervention. Historically, many were victims of unilateral interventionism due to colonialism and imperialism. At the same time, there is a growing consensus among countries of the Global South that human rights should be protected and promoted, and mass atrocities should be prevented and contained, by multilateral organizations, both regional and global. In this sense, a United Nations Emergency Peace Service – UNEPS, conceived by Dr. Peter Langille, is a very important proposal, and is consistent with the multilateral legitimacy and international legality that is expected and demanded from developing countries. –Professor Gilberto M. A. Rodrigues, Federal University of ABC, São Paulo, Brazil, and Board of CRIES, Latin America and Caribbean civil society network in Buenos Aires, Argentina.


With regard to practical tools–if you like the “tool of response”…there are many ideas on the table. But I believe one idea on the table that should be pursued more seriously and discussed within the United Nations, maybe a mandate if need be, is an idea which is being proposed by a very serious group of scholars and organizations. They call this the UN Emergency Peace Service. We can discuss this more fully later; I think this is something that should be debated more seriously so that where there is an actual genocide going on, at an early stage there will be the tool for response which does not depend on individual Member States deciding to send their men and women into harm’s way or not to do so. – Olara Otunnu, Former UN Special Representative to the Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict


Equipping the United Nations with a rapid deployment force could help defuse conflicts and protect vulnerable populations. This well constructed proposal surely deserves serious consideration at a time when the world more than ever needs effective peace-keeping mechanisms. – Professor John Ravenhill, Director, Balsillie School of International Affairs


Rather than await the next tragedy, together, we could take one confident step toward saving succeeding generations from the scourge of war. Together, we could help the UN prevent armed conflict and protect civilians at risk. Together, we could finally provide the Organization with a reliable mechanism for responding rapidly and effectively to diverse emergencies worldwide. Together, we could initiate a dedicated UN Emergency Peace Service. With sufficient support, such a service would complement efforts to overcome an increasingly divided, dangerous and heavily armed world. As a mechanism for enforcing international law, it would be a positive step toward ensuring a rules-based system; one that worked to promote common, human security. Gradually, it should also help to undermine the anarchy, the culture of impunity and the growing exclusivity characteristic of contemporary international relations.  A UN Emergency Peace Service would be a permanent UN formation, maintained at high readiness with pre-trained, well-equipped personnel, available for immediate deployment once authorized by the UN Security Council. This service would be both multidimensional and multifunctional, composed of military, police and civilian elements, prepared for rapid deployment to diverse UN operations… I won’t go into all the details of this proposal today, but it is supported by a coalition of organizations and detailed in a wonderful book written by Dr. Peter Langille. – Don Kraus, Former Executive Director, Citizens For Global Solutions


The idea of a UN Emergency Peace Service is both visionary and practical. The necessity of early intervention in conflict situations, that might or have erupted into violence, has always been an aspiration of UN policy. But there is no mechanism to achieve this yet, with the current cumbersome system requiring 6-to-12 months or more to deploy a peace operation. What UNEPS envisions is not only a more sophisticated and dedicated UN service, but one standing, well-trained and equipped with both military prowess and peacebuilding skills to rapidly defuse conflict and establish a peace process. Perhaps most important of all is that UNEPS would create the conditions for member states to reduce their standing militaries and constant preparation for war. A legitimate UN service should diminish the need for and the costs of ‘national forces’, as well as the risk of violent conflict between and within member states. – Dr. Saul Arbess, Cofounder of the Canadian Peace Initiative and the Global Alliance for Ministries and Infrastructures for Peace


In these troubling times, with more than 65 million people displaced by conflict, atrocities and persecution, the idea of a UN Emergency Peace Service deserves serious consideration. Millions of lives and the future of the UN depends upon our collective ability to turn innovative ideas into meaningful practice. – Dr. Simon Adams, Executive Director, Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect


The United Nations Emergency Peace Service (UNEPS) is a crucial step forward for the international community to live up to its responsibility to address human suffering in the context of armed conflicts. It provides a unique opportunity to expand global conscience and, for prompt responses to help in complex emergencies. A UNEPS is a two-level strategic initiative. Firstly, its multidimensional character provides the very means by which to prevent the escalation of violence, protect civilians and contribute to conflict resolution. UNEPS is also a rather sophisticated structure in that it combines both military and civilian capabilities at their best, thus paving the way for swift stabilization and peacebuilding aims. Secondly, UNEPS is a cost-effective mechanism, since a quick institutional response will boost efficiency in the management of UN operations in terms of resources, time and effort. Christian Bonfili, Professor of Political Science and International Studies at the Universidad Torcuato Di Tella, Buenos Aires, Argentina.


“Never again” we say but again and again we see. The proposed United Nations Emergency Peace Service is crucial to end crimes against humanity, genocide, and atrocities that rival Dante’s Inferno. Thanks to Sir Brian Urquhart’s vision and Peter Langille’s tireless work on a UNEPS, I have no doubt that children, who have not yet been born, one day will NOT have their lives terminated in some abrupt and unanticipated spasm of anger, bloodletting and hate, but will instead live out rewarding, fruitful and contributing lives.” – Tad Daley, JD, PhD, Author of APOCALYPSE NEVER: Forging the Path to a Nuclear Weapon-Free World, and former speechwriter, policy advisor and coauthor to U.S. Congressman Dennis Kucinich and to U.S. Senators Harris Wofford and Alan Cranston.


A United Nations Emergency Peace Service has the potential to improve the international community’s rapid response capabilities and thus, to help in preventing armed conflict.  The vision of a ‘UN 911’ first responder recognizes that every second matters to protect civilians in the face of mass atrocities. UN officials, policy makers, and researchers, from generations old and new, should consider serious study of UNEPS. – Patrick Quinton-Brown, MPhil Candidate at Oxford University, Editor at the St Antony’s International Review, and former Chairperson of the Canadian Centre for the Responsibility to Protect


[Canada] could also promote an idea whose time has been coming for too long: the creation of a permanent UN rapid-reaction force to stop the spread of conflicts before they spiral out of control. Tentatively named the United Nations Emergency Peace Service, this is the concept of Canadian peacekeeping expert Peter Langille…With…dedicated personnel chosen by the UN, it would deploy a force for the crucial first six months of a conflict, giving time for a peacekeeping unit to arrive…But its estimated $3 billion startup cost is far less than the trillions of dollars and millions of lives lost in wars, and it’s a project Canada could pioneer.– Toronto Star, Editorial August 10, 2016


Further information on UNEPS is available from hpl (a) globalcommonsecurity.org