While most UN peace operations have become large and multidimensional, UN support to postwar Nepal, the UN Mission in Nepal (UNMIN), was authorized as a “focused mission of limited duration.” Its lightness notwithstanding, the mission made a significant contribution by monitoring the cantonment process, assisting with the elections, and being an active watchdog of implementation as stipulated in the 2006 peace agreement.

The case study casts doubt on the assumption that international assistance to peacebuilding can compensate for lack of local capacity. Nepal did not meet conventional criteria for “local capacity” for postwar peacebuilding (as, e.g., used by Michael W. Doyle and Nicholas Sambanis 2006), but a more prominent international role would likely have been counterproductive by courting Nepalese nationalist reactions and Indian opposition. A mission carefully calibrated to take account of these concerns helped keep the peace process on track.