Analysis of UN’s peacekeeping
Peacekeeping, as defined by the United Nations, is "a way to help countries torn by conflict creates conditions for sustainable peace."[i] When the Charter of the United Nations was signed, in San Francisco, on 26 June 1945, the United Nations was established to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war” and one of its main purposes is to maintain international peace and security. Peacekeeping has evolved into one of the main tools used by the United Nations to achieve this purpose.[ii]United Nations peacekeeping first started during the Cold War as one of the way for UN to resolve the conflicts between states. After the cold war, peacekeeping has grown significantly and has become a widely accepted way of the international community’s response to international conflicts. At the same time the international society faced the steady decline in the proportion of interstate wars to internal wars. The end of the Cold War made a dramatic shift in UN and peacekeeping. The Security Council established larger and more complex UN peacekeeping missions to help reach peace agreements in intra-State conflicts and civil wars. Furthermore, UN began to attempt to improve security and stability in the post-war states, and act as an important role in the reconstruction. Since 1984, there have been 63 peacekeeping operations putting in to practice by UN. And number of current peace operations directed and supported by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations is 16.[iii]
2. The definition of success
Firstly it is important to know what a successful peacekeeping operation should be and how to make a peacekeeping operation successful, so that we can say weather the UN peacekeeping operations in the world are successful or not. Actually UN has not given many details about the criteria for success of PKO, according to UN: “A peacekeeping operation can be considered successful in the short term, if the mandate given to it by the Security Council was effectively fulfilled. But ultimately, the UN effort in a post-conflict situation will be judged by the ability of the country involved to sustain long-term peace and stability, and embark on the road to rebuilding and development.”[iv] According to research on the cases of Rwanda, Mozambique, El Salvador and Cambodia, nine factors for success and failure were derived from them: 1) the parties are willing and sincerely cooperating with the implementation of the operation; 2) the operation is able to provide a sufficient sense of security to the parties; 3) the operation has sufficient attention for the causes of the conflict both in depth and in breadth; 4) the operation receives co-operation from important outside actors and parties; 5) the operation is timely deployed and at the right time; 6) the operation is implemented by competent personnel under competent leadership, and with clear command structures; 7) the operation is part of a long term approach; 8) the ‘policy tools’ implemented in the operation are coordinated within the operation, as well as externally; And 9) the operation provides ‘ownership’.[v]
So these are the main criteria that will be used to analyze weather the UN PKO has been successful or not.
3. Successful cases
UN peacekeeping operations do get success in many places, for example East Timor could be seen as a typical story for UN peacekeeping.
On 30 August 1999, most of the East Timorese voters have agreed the proposed autonomy and began a process of transition towards independence. Following the announcement of the result, a campaign of violence began, and nearly 200,000 refugees left for West Timor. On 12 September 1999, the Government of Indonesia agreed to accept the offer of assistance from the international community. The Security Council then authorized the multinational force with 8,000 peacekeepers headed by Australia to restore peace and security in East Timor, to protect and support UNAMET in carrying out its tasks and, within force capabilities, to facilitate humanitarian assistance operations. Following the outbreak of violence, the Indonesian Armed Forces and police began leaving from the territory, Indonesian administrative officials also left. On 28 September, Indonesia and Portugal, at a meeting with the United Nations, declared their agreement for the transfer of authority in East Timor to the United Nations. On 19 October 1999, the Indonesian People's Consultative Assembly formally recognized the result of the consultation. On 25 October, the United Nations Security Council established the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) as a peacekeeping operation fully responsible for the administration of East Timor during its transition to independence. On 20 May 2002, East Timor became the first newly independent country in the 21st century with UN’s help. UNMISET kept on working after its independence in May 2002 in Timor-Leste to ensure the security and stability of the nascent State. [vi]
In the East Timor case, UN peacekeeping operation has been successful according to the UN’s criteria and nine factors. It has brought peace to the conflict areas, saved hundreds and thousands people’s lives, helped them to reach their own politic future and ensured the security and stability in the state.
UN has also got success in the transition in Namibia and supported similar transitions in El Salvador, Nicaragua and Guatemala. UN peacekeepers brought peace and sustained economic growth in Mozambique which has became a symbol of hope in Africa. And in December 2005, UN PKO has successfully completed its peacekeeping mandate in Sierra Leone.[vii]
4. Success factors of UN peacekeeping operation
The UN peacekeeping operation has its own advantages comparing to other peacekeeping operations by states or other international organizations. According to the Principles and Guidelines: "Capstone Doctrine”, UN PKO has there main assets.
First, United Nations peacekeeping operation has the international legitimacy.[viii] This is the most important factors of UN peacekeeping operation. A state or other international organization may do not have the power to mediate into another state for peacekeeping.
Secondly, UN peacekeeping operation is credible. The credibility of a United Nations peacekeeping operation is a direct reflection of the international and local communities’ belief in the mission’s ability to achieve its mandate.[ix] Although the credibility of UNPKO has been decreased during the resent year, the UN is still perceived by most countries as the preeminent institution providing international legitimacy.[x]
Thirdly, UN helps promote national and local ownership[xi], during the post-war time, if the state and local capacity are too weak, UN can act as a supporter. The peacekeeping leaded by states and other international organizations may do not have such a long term approach.
Another important thing for UN peacekeeping operation is that, if no states have interest in the conflict intervenes and no international organizations want to be the mediators, or they do not have enough power to do this, UN peacekeeping operation is the only choice for the international society. For what regional power could intervene between India and Pakistan? China? Afghanistan? There is no one nation trusted enough to play the part.[xii]
5. Failed case
Although UN peacekeeping operation has got success in some of the cases, the record of failure in its peacekeeping missions keeps unrelieved. The United Nations itself has recently released reports documenting two of its worst cases. According to these confessions, UN peacekeepers in Rwanda did nothing as Hutu slaughtered some 800,000 Tutsi.[xiii] In Bosnia, although the UN can claim some successes, it also suffered much bigger failures. When Bosnia first asked for UN monitors on its borders with Serbia in 1992, the request was turned down, because there was no precedent for "pre-emptive" peacekeeping. [xiv]The result was that Serb Serbs slaughter thousands in Srebrenica. The peacekeeping operation not only makes nothing better in the conflict but also makes it worse: its blue-helmeted troops were used as hostages by the Serbs to deter a military response from the West. [xv]
Also in Sierra Leone case, many of the peacekeepers were ill-equipped and poorly trained. The rebels managed to steal UN weapons, tanks and uniforms, and kidnap hundreds of UN peacekeepers.
Many people tend to believe that because of the UN's presence people will not slaughtered, terrorists or tyrants cannot control the failed states, or violence does not destroy entire regions. But in many cases, UN failed to keep peace and, what was worse; it failed to protect people’s lives. It is increasingly apparent that UN is incapable of effectively mediating complex international conflicts. All these failures make us begin to think UN peacekeeping operation is more unsuccessful than successful.
6. Limitations and Solutions
Why UN has got so many failures in peacekeeping operations?
Former Secretary General U Thant has offered part of the explanation for the question:” Great problems usually come to UN because governments have been unable to think of anything else to do about them. The UN is a last-ditch, last resort affair, and it is not surprising that the organization should often be blamed for failing to solve problems that have already been found to be insoluble by governments.”[xvi]
At the same time UN has great difficulty performing as an effective peacekeeper. It has little real political leverage. It promises and threats lack credibility. And it is incapable of pursuing coherent, flexible, and dynamic negotiations guided by an effective strategy.[xvii] In the foreign affairs I have read, I have found that the UN is mainly criticized in two parts.
Firstly, it will take a long time for the UN to decide what to do. UN can not decide a plan by itself, since the UN is made by five permanent members and about a hundred member states, it will be very difficult to make an agreement When the UN take actions, it need the cooperation of at least five permanent members and then the other countries to make it possible. A state’s desired course of action may not win the support of others, or it may be modified until it no longer suits the state’s interests. The multilateral negotiations, more over, require a time consuming and uncertain process of consultation and coordination among a large number of actors. [xviii] Since the UN will take a very long time to decide the plan and it is difficult to change the decision. The UN does not have the flexibility as an intervenor. When they spent time in the meeting room, the innocent civilians are suffering and dying.
Secondary, the UN does not have military or economic resources of its own. It is entirely dependent on member states, or at least some of them, to provide the resources necessary for a successful mediation. The United Nations can not even harness the assets of international financial and trading institutions.[xix] In many mediation cases, to offer or change interest with the parties or use economic instruments will be a very effective way to achieve peace agreement, but UN does not have resource to do it, unless the Security Council and most of the states agree to do so.
These tow problems lead to another critics that UN is over-depend on the decisions of the member states. It can not act by the power of itself with out the help of the states.
So I think that the UN needs to change which will contain tow main parts. Firstly is to streamline the decision making process. UN should have a decision making process that is more effective and will save time. Secondary, UN should have its own military, at the same time, should make a close relationship with other International organizations in the economic areas such as the World Bank, so that it can have its own economic resource. And the member states in UN should learn to speak in one voice and to cooperate with each other.
But it is really difficult for UN to do so. We should always remember that, UN is not a single power; behind it are hundreds of states in the world. Every state has its own interests and it is really difficult for them to cooperate with each other.
If UN can not act as an effective peacekeeper, who else can be a successful one that can make decisions quickly and have its own military force and resource?
In my opinion I think the states can act as a suitable peacekeeper. As we know, state has been the main actors in the international arena for a long time. In most cases, the states take actions for the benefit. In the conflict solving areas, states can perform as the main mediators. States most eager to mediate a conflict are those with important interests at stake, such as neighbors or great powers. [xx]The sates are very suitable as the mediator since they are able to offer interests to the disputants to persuade them to reach an agreement. But the most important is that, the sates such as great powers have power from their military and economic resources, which make them able to influence the disputants. At the same time, states could be the mediators since the states such as neighbors will always know the situation better. Sometimes if the states have the same religion or similar culture it will be better to have the neighbors as mediators since they will gain greater support form the local people.
But let the states be the main mediators will lead to another problem as we have said before, what we should do if no states have interest in the conflict intervenes and no neighbors want to be the mediators since the action will cause more than they get, or they do not have enough power to do this.
The way to solve this problem is to strengthen states power as mediators and to make UN as the great support behind the states. Since the states will be more flexible than the UN which has a huge decision making system. And the states have the military and economic resource which the UN does not have. But the sates may find it difficult to control the situation without UN’s help. Peacemaking there required negotiation with several disputants, each supported by one or more intervening states. Those negotiations were conducted primarily by states. But international organizations such as UN made a crucial contribution by provide the framework and forums for negotiation and helping coordinate state policies.[xxi] I agree that instead of states referring the most difficult conflict to UN, it should be UN that would require a state as the mediator and give the state enough help. Also, since UN has the international legitimacy it, could act as a legitimizer, which means that the UN offers the legitimation and the states or region offers the power.
In my opinion, I think hat, the states and the international organizations such as UN should work together, and use their respective strengths to intervene the conflict.
It may seem as a very long way to reach an ideal goal which is solving the conflict situation effectively and permanently. But I believe there will be some better ways to go. If we approach from a right angle, we will finally reach the goal.
[ii] United Nations Peacekeeping Operations Principles and Guidelines
[iii] UNITED NATIONS PEACEKEEPING OPERATIONS Background note: 30 November 2008
[v] van der Lijn, J. , 2008-03-26 "Factors for Success and Failure of UN Peacekeeping Operations: Theory and the Case of UNMIS in Sudan" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the ISA's 49th ANNUAL CONVENTION, BRIDGING MULTIPLE DIVIDES, Hilton San Francisco, SAN FRANCISCO, CA, USA Online <APPLICATION/PDF>. 2008-12-11 from http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p251586_index.html
[viii] Principles and Guidelines: "Capstone Doctrine”
[ix] Principles and Guidelines: "Capstone Doctrine”
[x] Morton Abramowitz and Thomas Pickering “Making intervention work” foreign affairs 2008 vol87 No5 P103
[xi] Principles and Guidelines: "Capstone Doctrine”
[xii] Michael Hirsb “Calling all region-cops Peacekeeping’s Hybrid Future”, foreign affairs 2000, vol79 No6, P6
[xiii] Foreign Affairs, March/April 2000
Deliver Us From Evil: Peacekeepers, Warlords, and a World of Endless Conflict. William Shawcross. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2000, 400 pp.
[xv] Foreign Affairs, March/April 2000
Deliver Us From Evil: Peacekeepers, Warlords, and a World of Endless Conflict. William Shawcross. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2000, 400 pp.
[xvi] U Thant, View from the UN, Garden City, NY: Doubleday & CO., 1978, p.32
[xvii] Saadia Touval “Why the UN fails”, foreign affairs vol73,no5,p45
[xviii] Saadia Touval “Why the UN fails”, foreign affairs vol73,no5,p50
[xix] Saadia Touval “Why the UN fails”, foreign affairs vol73,no5,p52
[xx]Saadia Touval “Why the UN fails”, foreign affairs vol73,no5,p48
[xxi] Saadia Touval “Why the UN fails”, foreign affairs vol73,no5,p56