Uruguay contributes 45.5% of the Latin American workforce and El Salvador is second with 12%, both ahead of the regional powers.

  • Of the total of 82,480 troops in the fourteen UN peacekeeping missions at the beginning of 2020, 2,473 were from Latin American countries, mostly military and police.

  • Almost all troops from the region serve in missions in Africa; 45.4% serve in the DRC stabilisation plan.

  • After Uruguay and then El Salvador come Argentina, Brazil, Peru and Guatemala, while Mexico is one of the lowest contributors (only 13 experts and employees, not troops).

Bolivian soldier in training exercises for UN peacekeeping missions, 2002 [Wikipedia].

Bolivian soldier in training exercises for UN peacekeeping missions, 2002 [Wikipedia].

report SRA 2020 / Jaime Azpiri[PDF version].

Latin America's contribution to international peacekeeping missions sponsored by the United Nations is below the weight of its population and Economics in the world (around 8% and 7%, respectively). Of the 82,480 people participating in the various UN missions as of 31 January 2020, only 2,473 were from Latin American countries, which represents 2.9% of the total. A similar percentage (3%) was recorded when considering only the military or police staff of the missions (around 2,150 uniformed personnel, out of a total of 70,738; the rest corresponded to employees and experts).

This is a smaller external presence than might be expected, given the insistence of many countries in the region on multilateralism and the desirability of strong international institutions that limit the expansionist impulses of the great powers. A special exception is Uruguay, precisely the most coherent nation in its defence of international arbitration, which, despite its small population, is by far the largest contributor to peace missions staff . Its 1,125 envoys make up 45.5 percent of the total Latin American contingent.

While Uruguay's strong contribution is not surprising, it is surprising that the second country with the highest participation is El Salvador, with 293 people (12% of Latin America's contribution). This is followed by two very important countries, Argentina and Brazil (272 and 252 envoys, respectively); then Peru (231) and Guatemala (176). On the other hand, Mexico, despite all its economic and human potential, is particularly absent from these international missions (only 13 people, moreover, as employees or experts, not troops), both due to constitutional restrictions and political doctrine. In the case of Colombia (only 2 experts), this may be due to the need to devote its military force entirely to the pacification of the country itself, although one would expect greater capacity and availability from a global NATO partner , the only designation in Latin America that it achieved in 2018.

The international mission with the largest number of envoys, accounting for 45.4% of the region's total contingent, is the UN's mission statement mission for the stabilisation of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, whose French name is derived from the acronym MONUSCO. A total of 1,123 Latin Americans are participating, the majority of whom are Uruguayan envoys (934), with the greatest participation of Guatemalans on military missions abroad (153).



Previous highlights of missions

Although Latin American countries generally participate little in military missions abroad, the sending of troops abroad is not alien to the history of the American republics after their independence. A first intervention was the so-called "ABC", a coalition formed by Argentina, Brazil and Chile in the context of the Mexican Revolution at the beginning of the last century to prevent civil war in the North American country. Another conflict that required mediation was the Chaco War in the 1930s. In this confrontation between Paraguay and Bolivia, the interventions of Chile and Argentina were crucial to subsequently define the reaffirmation of the nationality of the Chaco region.

At the end of the 20th century, the most important was mission statement aimed at pacifying the former Yugoslav republics, known by the UN as UNPROFOR. Argentina was the Latin American country with the largest presence of troops in this scenario. Shortly afterwards, in the 1990s, two international missions were implemented, this time in the Western Hemisphere itself, to secure the agreements that put an end to the civil wars in El Salvador (ONUSAL) and Guatemala (MINUGUA). At the end of the decade, MOMEP was set up to impose an armistice between Peru and Ecuador, which were at war in the Cenepa War.

deadline In Colombia, too, some leaders at some point considered the possibility of apply for the presence of blue helmets in order to control and, in the long term, put an end to the FARC insurrection. In 1998, Colombian President Álvaro Uribe proposed the presence of international troops in the face of the government's inability to control the situation, but the initiative was not carried out. Following the peace agreement agreement in 2016, the signatory parties asked the UN to set up a UNVMC ( mission statement ) to monitor compliance with the terms of the agreement, which operates with a maximum of 120 people (some civilians and around 100 military and police personnel), of whom 94 were from Latin American countries as of January 2020.



The contrast between Uruguay and Mexico

Today, the countries of the region are present in 14 different peace missions (out of the total of 21 promoted by the UN), especially in Africa but also in other parts of the world. Nine Latin American nations participate in MINUSCA, convened for the pacification of the Central American Republic, the same issue as in UNVMC, the mission statement verification of the peace accords in Colombia. In UNMISS, mission statement of attendance in South Sudan, 8 countries participate, and in MONUSCO, implemented in the Democratic Republic of Congo, 7 do so.

As mentioned above, Uruguay is the largest contributor to ongoing missions (1,126 personnel as of 31 January). This staff is basically assigned to MONUSCO (934) and to a lesser extent to UNDOF (170), which ensures security on the Golan Heights as a force separating Syrians from Israelis; in total, Uruguayan blue helmets are present in six different missions. This service has been especially recognised by the United Nations, which values Uruguay's long history in this area subject: for example, it highlighted its attendance in the mission statement carried out in Haiti after the disaster caused by Hurricane Dean, to which it assigned 13,000 troops between 2007 and 2014. The contribution of Uruguay, a country of barely 3.5 million inhabitants, is greater than that of Spain (648), France (732) or Italy (1084).

On the other hand, the case of Mexico is the most striking due to its very limited participation in peace missions, considering that it is one of the region's powers. The North American country is the second Latin American nation that spends the second most resources on development for its armed forces, with a total of 7 million dollars, far behind Brazil's first place, with a total of almost 29.5 million dollars. Historically, Mexico has participated in more than 80 peace missions, lending troops from the Federal Police and the army, generally under issue. The previous president, Enrique Peña Nieto, announced in 2014 that Mexican units would once again participate decisively in armed operations in support of the UN, but today their contribution is reduced to 13 people (9 experts and 4 employees), which represents only 1% of Latin American participation. The most relevant reason to explain the Mexican phenomenon is the long tradition in favour of the Estrada doctrine of non-intervention in the internal affairs of other countries. Moreover, the Mexican Constitution restricts the deployment of troops abroad unless Mexico has declared war on an enemy.

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