The (Non-) Use of Intelligence

The (Non-) Use of Intelligence in the Context of Planning UN Peacekeeping Operations – A Principal-Agent Problem?

 Anne Lange

The famous phrase >knowledge is power< is particularly true for peacekeeping, and even more so after the end of the Cold War when the strategic context for UN field missions has changed significantly: The type of conflicts peacekeepers are increasingly intervening in are civil wars characterized by adversaries, who are little defined in terms of intent and capability, usually integrated in local power structures and driven by nationalist, ethnic and/or economic motives. To manage these complex security risks and to steer political outcomes in the desired direction, intelligence needs of UN decision-makers go far beyond military intelligence.

As a consequence the 2000 Brahimi Report recommends establishing professional UN headquarter- and field-level information-gathering and -analysis capacities. Most peacekeeping operations have by now been complemented with >Joint Mission Analysis Centres<, yet the establishment of a New York-based cell has not been realized. Hence, information needs cannot be sufficiently supplied by the few small information-gathering and -analysis units scattered in the Secretariat which lack a broad intelligence mandate and resources.

Driven by this finding, this paper explores, first, to which degree the lack of an effective intelligence capacity in the Secretariat contributes to the information disadvantage it has vis-à-vis the Security Council, and, second, what the consequences of this are for mission planning. To address this puzzle, research on peacekeeping intelligence is merged with applications of the principal-agent model to autonomous action of public administrations. At the core will be the argument made by Waterman and Meier (1998) who explain the level of bureaucratic autonomy to be a function of the information level held by the bureaucratic agent relative to that of his political principal.

Among its key findings is that the lack of intelligence capacities in the Secretariat can be explained to be a conscious decision of member states with the most powerful states defending their leading role in the global intelligence game and developing countries fearing to provide the UN with a mandate to investigate into their internal affairs. As a consequence, mission planning is largely shaped around national, strategic interests and less so on solid information.

Zur Person:
Anne Lange, geb. 1986, M.A. Internationale Verwaltung und Konfliktmanagement (Universität Konstanz), ab Oktober 2012 Stipendiatin des Graduiertenkollegs >Wicked Problems, Contested Administrations: Knowledge, Coordination, Strategy< der Universität Potsdam. Der vorliegende Beitrag basiert auf ihrer Masterarbeit, die im November 2011 eingereicht wurde.

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