UNIFIL soldiers getting ready to leave base join hands before departing on for a patrol in south Lebanon on August 28, 2009. (UN Photo/Pasqual Gorriz)

Improving the Security of United Nations Peacekeepers (now universally known as the Cruz Report after its lead author) has one feature that distinguishes it from other United Nations documents. It is readable.

The prose is workmanlike but effective. Lieutenant General Carlos Alberto dos Santos Cruz and his co-authors make pithy and provocative points such as “hostile forces do not understand a language other than force.” This is a stark contrast to most UN reports, which typically consist of one overlong paragraph stacked on top of another. All UN officials should read the Cruz report to remind themselves how to write.

The style of the report matters because, as other contributors to this series have noted, the substance is not actually that radical. Peacekeepers should be better equipped. The UN needs stronger command and control arrangements. The organization needs improved hospitals. This is all important, but standard fare.

But the report’s language is different than normal, and the difference matters. In recent years, policy debates about peacekeeping have largely been framed in the language of mediators and development experts. The 2015 High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations (HIPPO) set the standard, emphasizing the “primacy of politics” in peacemaking and nodding to the Sustainable Development Goals by calling for “sustainable peace.” Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has taken his rhetorical cues from the HIPPO, talking about the importance of sustainable peace, prevention and a “surge of diplomacy.” Read more