The number of peacekeepers deployed around the world fell by more than 10 per cent in 2012, due in part to the beginning withdrawal of international forces from Afghanistan, according to figures released Stockholm International Peace Research Institute today.
How far they fall will depend on how many peacekeepers will be deployed in Mali, where French-backed forces are fighting Islamist rebels - and potentially in Syria.
The report noted that the United Nations appeared paralysed over the Syria crisis, as China and Russia had blocked Security Council moves to intervene.
"The lack of action over Syria in 2012 highlighted the weakness of international commitment to the responsibility to protect," said senior researcher Jair van der Lijn.
"In the end, national interests and deep-rooted fears that the responsibility to protect undermines the principle of state sovereignty seem to weigh heavier than the plight of populations caught up in conflict," he added.
SIPRI's annual report also contains data already published, including figures showing a decline in global arms spending in 2012 of 0.5 per cent, the first drop since 1998.
The report noted that China had overtaken Britain as the world's fifth largest arms exporter after the United States, Russia, Germany and France.
The United States and Russia have not destroyed all their chemical weapons in 2012 as promised. Syria, in the grip of a bloody uprising for more than two years, has said it is prepared to use its weapons in the case of foreign attack.