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Beyond Sovereignty: Delegation and Agency in International Security

Final Report Summary - BEYONDSOVEREIGNTY (Beyond Sovereignty: Delegation and Agency in International Security)

International organisations play an active role in military affairs. In 2012, for instance, the United Nations (UN), North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and European Union (EU) deployed a record number of 250,000 troops – up from 11,000 at the end of the Cold War. From Afghanistan to Somalia, Libya and South Sudan, these soldiers monitor inter-state agreements, protect civilians and fight insurgency and piracy. They often carry out their mandates in dangerous environments.

The project analyses how international organisations establish these multinational military operations. Cooperation in the sensitive field of military affairs is, after all, not straightforward. Military command and control structures are typically organised on a national basis. This means that if sovereign states want to collectively deploy troops using an international organisation, they face a major coordination challenge.

One way of dealing with this challenge is through centralisation. The UN, NATO and EU member states have established permanent secretariats in Brussels and New York to help them with the planning and conduct of military missions. These secretariats carry out assessments, draft military scenarios and provide direction to ongoing operations. While these secretariats allow the member states to better coordinate their military actions, they also potentially exert unwanted influence and further their own private interests.

This is the politics of multinational military cooperation, which this project uncovers. The project studies how these secretariats have developed over time and analyses how they contribute to the formulation of military mandates. Part of the research involves interviews in Brussels and New York with relevant officials about the games that are being played behind the scenes. These officials have provided first-hand accounts of how military interventions in a range of countries have come about.

The project has resulted in several academic published and forthcoming journal articles. It has also resulted in a forthcoming monograph providing a comparative account of the politics of multinational military force in the UN, NATO and EU. These outputs are relevant for policy makers in the three studied international organisations, military missions on the ground, national ministries, and third actors, such as NGOs.