A participant (right) learns carpentry at the Republic of Korea’s Horizontal Military Engineering Company (HMEC), a programme serving with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). UN Photo/Nektarios Markogiannis

CIC Data in Focus: Civilian Staff Where There is No Peace to Keep

CIC Data in Focus is a blog series discussing trends, peculiarities, and questions arising from UN data, mainly drawn from our data sets here at the Center on International Cooperation. In case you missed it, our first post took a look at broad trends among civilians in UN Peacekeeping from 2012 to 2017.

2 min readAug 7, 2018


This week, we zoom in on civilian staff in the UN’s five largest peacekeeping operations (PKOs) over the last several years, revealing some interesting discrepancies. These five PKOs are also known as “conflict management” missions, because they largely operate in places where there is “no peace to keep.”

The underlying data covers 2012 through mid-2017, and is sourced from the UN. The table below compares the change in civilian staff numbers with the change in troops and police (i.e., uniformed personnel) over time. It also shows the ratio of uniformed personnel to civilian staffers in each mission as of 2017 (last column):

Data Source: United Nations. Prepared by the Center on International Cooperation. Annual medians are calculated based on available monthly data. *MINUSMA’s change in civilian and uniformed personnel is measured from 2013 (the first year of the mission) to 2017, and MINUSCA’s is measured from 2014 (the first year of the mission) to 2017. The others are measured from 2012 to 2017.

UNMISS may seem odd because the number of civilians has not budged, while troops and police have more than doubled. However, looking at the last column, UNMISS has about 6.1 uniformed personnel per civilian staffer, which is about the norm for these missions. (Perhaps the civilian component deployed more quickly than the military component of this mission?)

On the other hand, MINUSMA and MINUSCA’s civilian staff growth significantly outpaced uniformed personnel growth. Nonetheless, these two missions have far fewer civilian staffers than other missions, proportionally, with uniformed personnel to civilian ratios of 9-to-1 and 11.3-to-1.

These observations raise several questions. For example, is there some reason that MINUSMA and MINUSCA need fewer civilians relative to their number of troops and police? Are they having difficulties hiring? Are they budget constrained?

If you have more ideas about what we’ve noticed here, we welcome your tweets @PeaceOpsCIC or @nyuCIC.

In our next post, we will look at a recent rise in PKOs’ per capita budgeting for civilian staff, and explore whether growth in certain staff categories could be a contributing factor.

Thanks for reading Data in Focus. We welcome and appreciate your feedback. Drop us a line at ryan.rappa[at]nyu.edu if there’s something you’d like to see us add to the blog.