Reference: Improving United Nations Intelligence: Lessons from the Field

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Improving United Nations Intelligence: Lessons from the Field

GCSP Policy Paper N°19

Ms Melanie Ramjoué

August 2011 View this publication

Key Points:


United Nations (UN) member states have historically been hesitant to provide the UN with an intelligence-collection mandate at either strategic (headquarters) or operational (field) levels. However, the increased size, length and complexity of peacekeeping operations, compounded by severe security threats to UN personnel, make a stronger UN intelligence capability in the field increasingly necessary.

Over the past decade, UN member states have begun to support a limited UN intelligence capability in peacekeeping missions. As a result, the UN created a new multidisciplinary structure in 2005, the Joint Mission Analysis Centre (JMAC), whose mandate is to produce mission-wide integrated analyses for the senior management of peacekeeping missions. The uniqueness of the JMAC model lies in the fact that JMAC teams are composed of military, police and civilian team members who share a same physical office space and report to a common civilian chief.

Research by the author and others suggests that JMACs succeed in producing valuable intelligence in particular in larger missions whose mandates comprise both military and civilian elements. It also finds that civil-military collaboration within JMACs works better than could be expected considering the very different backgrounds and work cultures of military, police and civilian staff.

In light of the JMAC experience, UN managers should perhaps consider relying more on multidisciplinary teams which can contribute to the integration of all UN activities and goals. The JMAC model may also be relevant for other structures such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) or the European Union (EU) when military and civilian goals are intertwined.

Based on the JMAC experience, UN intelligence should no longer be considered an oxymoron when referring to operational levels. JMACs have proven that the UN is capable of producing high-quality intelligence assessments when provided with the necessary mandate and resources.

See Also:

Peacekeeping Intelligence at Phi Beta Iota