Highlights from Boutros-Ghali’s 1992 Agenda for Peace

Boutros Boutros-Ghali was invited by the Security Council, early in his tenure as Secretary-General, to prepare this report which can be read in full here. 

He drew on ideas and proposals transmitted to him by governments, regional agencies, non-governmental organizations, and institutions and individuals from many countries, but emphasised that the responsibility for the report was his own. 

All his recommendations would enhance UNO’s work for peace, in particular:

Preventive diplomacy

Preventive diplomacy requires measures to create confidence; it needs early warning based on information gathering and informal or formal fact-finding; it may also involve preventive deployment and, in some situations, demilitarized zones. 

Korean demilitarized zone

In recent years the United Nations system has been developing a network of early warning systems concerning environmental threats, the risk of nuclear accident, natural disasters, mass movements of populations, the threat of famine and the spread of disease. Its effectiveness has been questioned by Harvard’s  Patrick Philippe Meier

“Convention conflict early warning systems are designed by us in the West to warn ourselves. They are about control. These systems are centralized, hierarchical, bureaucratic and ineffective. And highly academic. Indeed, the vast majority of operational conflict early warning systems are little more than fancy databases used to store, retrieve and analyze data. The rhetoric is that these systems serve to prevent violence which is rather ironic since the vast majority of local communities at risk have never heard of our impressive sounding systems.” 

A graph shows the increasing need for fact-finding/early warning

Boutros-Ghali agrees that arrangements should be made to strengthen this so that information from these sources can be synthesized with political indicators to assess whether a threat to peace exists and to analyse what action might be taken by the United Nations to alleviate it.

Regional arrangements

Regional arrangements and organizations have an important role in fact-finding and early warning. Boutros-Ghali reminds us of Chapter VIII of the UN Charter, which is devoted to regional arrangements or agencies for dealing with matters relating to the maintenance of international peace; these include regional organizations for mutual security and defence, organizations for general regional development, for cooperation on a particular economic topic or function and groups created to deal with a specific political, economic or social issue of current concern.

In Africa, the Organization of African Unity, the League of Arab States and the Organization of the Islamic Conference joined efforts with the United Nations regarding Somalia. The Association of South-East Asian Nations and individual States from several regions came together with the parties to the Cambodian conflict at an international conference in Paris, to work with the United Nations. The end of the war in Nicaragua was initiated by leaders of the region and conducted by individual States, groups of States and the Organization of American States.

Boutros-Ghali asked regional organizations that have not sought observer status at the United Nations to do so and to be linked, through appropriate arrangements, with the security mechanisms of this organization. 


UN Peace-keeping has brought a degree of stability to numerous areas of tension around the world.

Demands are increasing; thirteen peace-keeping operations were established between the years 1945 and 1987; 13 others since then.

Preventive deployment

The time has come to plan for circumstances warranting preventive deployment; in inter-State disputes such deployment could take place when two countries feel that a United Nations presence on both sides of their border can discourage hostilities; furthermore, preventive deployment could take place when a country feels threatened and requests the deployment of an appropriate United Nations presence along its side of the border alone.

United Nations Preventive Deployment Force

An UNPREDEP observation post on the Yugoslav border.

Post-conflict peace-building

In the aftermath of international war, post-conflict peace-building may take the form of concrete cooperative projects which link two or more countries in a mutually beneficial undertaking that can not only contribute to economic and social development but also enhance the confidence that is so fundamental to peace. See the UNPB joint Liberian project pictured opposite.

Boutros-Ghali had in mind  projects that bring States together to develop agriculture, improve transport or utilize resources such as water or electricity that they need to share, or joint programmes through which barriers between nations are brought down by means of freer travel, cultural exchanges and mutually beneficial youth and educational projects.                                                                                                                            

But all these desirable and civilised undertakings require member states to fulfil their agreed financial obligations to the organisation . . .

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