1. Introduction This report has been written to try to assess the usefulness of peacekeeping, and does this mainly by looking at three different case studies. The fact that it uses case studies as a measure of usefulness means that a lot of the information is practical in that you can see what difference the peacekeepers made, as opposed to merely theoretical. I chose three different case studies, and briefly explained the situation although hopefully only enough to prove the point I wanted to make. I tried to avoid basic narration that didn’t prove anything, and so as a result this report would be intended for an audience who knew what had gone on in each area. Therefore the most appropriate audience / readership would be other students (and tutors) within the Peacekeeping/History areas, although nature of the subject means that any well-and-widely-read person would follow it.
2. Peacekeeping – how useful is it? In order for an operation to be classed as a peacekeeping operation, it must fulfil certain characteristics and values, and it must also operate within a certain context, although this doesn’t mean that every operation gets given the same mandate. The variety of situations / conflicts has meant that different approaches are required and the mandates have varied each time – over the years however even the mandates have fallen into certain types of peacekeeping operations, for example traditional peacekeeping versus preventative deployment. As the main – but not the only – peacekeeping body, the United Nations tends to be the subject of most discussions on the merits of peacekeeping.
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When the UN was established in 1945 it filled a gap – that being to act as a recognised independent body to intervene and help to defuse conflicts that could affect international peace. No-one can dispute that the aims of peacekeeping are worthwhile, however there are so many things that are placed under the umbrella of peacekeeping that things can get confusing. The definition of peacekeeping for the purposes of this report is that which is covered by Dag Hammarskjold’s so-called Chapter Six-and-a-half, i. e. somewhere between the traditional Chapter Six methods and the more forceful Chapter Seven methods.
In March 1995 a report written by Jarat Chopra appeared in The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, discussing UN peacekeeping. Chopra argues that the UN has failed in many of its missions and that its concepts are now outdated. He is calling for more involvement by the international community, and for future operations to be given mandates that to me, sound eerily like the mandate for the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) – for example the tasks he proposes be included in mandates are governorship, control, and law and order. When the UN went into Cambodia they took over major government ministries, and practically ran the country until elections could install a new and valid government. He also writes that “when human rights violations within a nation become shocking, intervention is called for” (p 35).
Yet no nation wants to see human rights blatantly ignored and abused, however the international community cannot simply go wading in wherever she likes or sees fit, to law down the law and impose internationally made decisions.
To what rights have we to do that? The UN has at least recognised this basic context in which an operation must take place. I do not mean for this to sound like a UN advertisement however; I believe the basic principles which govern the establishment of UN peacekeeping missions are right and the only way to go about things, but there are areas for reform. For example the UN can seem slow to respond to situations but this is partly because of the way that it is financed, and the problems that it has collecting the money from the member states. For example Cyprus was initially to be paid for via voluntary contributions (which Britain and the United States promised to make) and it was only in 1993 when it was changed so that it was included in the mandatory assessments that each member pays. If it wasn’t for the fact that Britain was initially involved because of her relationship with Cyprus there is doubt that this operation would ever have been established. The issue is not so much peacekeeping itself but more how it is approached and managed, because that is when its usefulness can become hampered.
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The most effective way to gauge the usefulness of peacekeeping is to look at past examples, and assess whether they made a positive contribution, and how much they affected what was going on. 2. 1 Cyprus Cyprus is one of the UN’s longest running peacekeeping missions, and one which is still operational today. For this reason I have chosen it as a case study, to look at whether this can be classed as a success, and to assess how useful it has been. Initial involvement concerned only Britain, as Britain was a formal guarantor of the 1960 constitution. However this became more important on an international scale, especially with a view to NATO, and so Britain and the United States approached the Security Council to request a formal UN peacekeeping force.
The result was UNFICYP: United Nations (Peacekeeping) Force in Cyprus, and its mandate was a traditional Chapter Six mandate. Between the years of 1964 and 1974, there was no buffer zone and so the work of the UN personnel was made harder because there was no clear split between the Greek-Cypriots and the Turkish-Cypriots. It was harder for them to keep the calm when the two parties were in such close proximity to each other. However, following the establishment of the buffer zone in 1974 the UN have had control of a complete buffer zone reaching 180 miles across the width of Cyprus, estimated at 3% of the total land area (figures taken from Parsons, 1995).
Although only 20 yards in width in some areas at others the width is four miles and so the peacekeepers have a clearly defined area to work within – the area has even had an all weather track running the length of it since 1986. The UN’s presence has most definitely had a positive effect: every day, especially in the narrow part of the buffer zone where there have been more clashes, there have been many minor conflicts but the UN has managed to settle them all.
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Because the conflicts are being dealt with on the field, at the lowest level of the hierarchy (on both sides), chances of the problems escalating are minimised because tempers are more easily cooled when they have not had a chance to get far. The frequency of the conflicts means that there are concerns that without the peacekeepers the conflicts could gather their own momentum and quite easily result in full-scale war. Tempers have been cooled and the surface tensions have been kept at relatively low levels. They use night vision to check the areas 24 hours a day, and the area is patrolled both in vehicles and on foot. This way the UN can recognise as soon as any side tries to advance on their positions, and in most instances, helped by the distance of the buffer zone, by calling on the appropriate side they can ensure advances are stopped. There is also a unit of small helicopters available and armoured cars on call, so the personnel have more at their disposal to help them monitor the peace than other forces have had.
The UN have also helped in other areas – for example they made the arrangements for Nicosia airport to be a UN protected area. There are arguments that the peacekeepers (in many operations and not just this one) are not being useful because their presence there is preventing the parties sorting this out once and for all in their own way – which in this instance would inevitably lead to war. However, the mandate of UNFICYP does not allow for anything other than traditional peacekeeping, and so if the Greeks and the Cypriots really wanted war the UN would be able to do little to stop them. See for example the Greek-Cypriot invasion of July 1974 followed in August by the resumption of the invasion by the Turkish. In both instances the UN had arranged cease-fires but they cannot be blamed for the invasions themselves just because they were there and didn’t prevent them. The usefulness of the operation should not be affected by these invasions, because the UN managed to defuse the situation and establish some form of peace.
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In addition to this, by preventing an out-and-out war, the peacekeepers are protecting the rights of civilians who are simply caught in the crossfire, so to speak. Full-scale war is not the answer – particularly in this case because neither party would be willing to accept a proper compromise, or as Parsons (1995) writes “neither would settle for half a loaf.” Other arguments against the usefulness of this mission (and others) are that there is no urgency to resolve the situation: although at the moment it seems there is no way that either party would “settle” for anything that represents a compromise (as the above paragraph).
If UNFICYP was withdrawn, this does not mean that the parties would try to settle. Previous examples seem to show that they would continue, with no thought as to how things would end: as Anthony Parsons writes (p 178, 1995): “The Greek and Turkish Cypriots have comprehensively demonstrated that, if left alone, they will enthusiastically fall on each other, regardless of the consequences.” And there seems to be a common view that the current situation is quite satisfactory for both Greece and Turkey. This way, Turkey have their own TRNC (even though only Turkey recognises this) and Greece have their own Republic of Cyprus which they claim still represents the majority of Cypriots (which it probably does, considering that the split of Greeks to Turks is 80: 20).
2 Cambodia Cambodia is included because firstly, the initial problems in the 1950 s were successfully defused without the use of UN forces or involvement, which proves the point that the UN is not necessarily involved in every mission. Secondly, when the UN did become involved the mission was one of the largest UN missions undertaken – and in fact this mission is one which seems to echo the duties which Chopra believes we should be carrying out (see earlier, p 5).
The problems in Cambodia were not initially dealt with by the United Nations, partially because of problems with China’s position and involvement – the “impartiality” value was compromised in this situation. However, the domino theory was of great concern to the West, and the international community was anxious to extract France from this dispute (categorised by Alan James (1990) as a “high street embarrassment”) and also to establish calm and oversee the Cambodia cease-fire.
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The internal conference held in Geneva resulted in the establishment of the International Commission for Supervision and Control (ICSC) – (the Cambodia ICSC being one of three: there was also one established in Laos and another – the largest – in Vietnam).
The ICSC carried out the typical traditional peacekeeping tasks, those being to observe and watch over the parties involved, to monitor the cease-fire and generally defusing the situation. Whilst this traditional method of peacekeeping is seen as merely buying time rather than resolving the dispute itself, this is a valuable tool. Without the involvement of the ICSC Cambodia may never have managed to stabilise itself – and this would have had repercussions on the rest of the Indo-China territories and the cease-fires there. After 1955 there was very little for the ISCS to do, as the country was relatively stable, and so the ISCS was wound down until its complete withdrawal in 1969. The United Nations did not become involved until much later, in 1991, following the signing of the Cambodian Peace Agreement.
Years of the Khmer Rouge had resulted in the loss of between one to two million lives, and although this was of concern to the international community it was not enough for international involvement in terms of a peacekeeping force – in any case one would not have been welcome and so would contravene basic peacekeeping principles. However when the Vietnamese invaded in 1978, it brought it into international focus – the Vietnamese were followers of the communism practiced by the Soviet Union, and also there were concerns summarised in the domino theory. Although the Vietnamese promised to leave by September 1989, the UN was eager to become involved, to supervise the Vietnamese withdrawal, to supervise the cease-fire and to ensure that the situation was defused. However Cambodia objected and so the UN could not go until after the signing of the Cambodian Peace Agreement in 1991, when they were made a condition of the agreement. When peacekeepers are made a condition of an agreement, it gives the peacekeepers much more authority, but it also works well as a face-saving tool for all parties concerned. The United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) in effect took over the administration of the country – they ensured that the cease-fire was maintained and at the same time took over control of the major government departments.
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Their aim was to establish an election that could take place in an “atmosphere free from coercion, intimidation and political violence” (p 129, Roberts, 1992).
Other duties included “[v]edification of the withdrawal of foreign forces, supervision of the cease-fire… weapon control and mine clearance” (pp 163-164, Parsons, 1995).
The Khmer Rouge were opposed to the presence of the peacekeepers and refused to co-operate with them; continually harassed them and in some cases even (temporarily) detained UNTAC personnel.
Other parties also breached the cease-fire and intimidation was rife. Yet the peacekeepers continued and carried on with their work, and enabled elections to take place on 23-25 May 1993. The level of hostility that was present when the UN peacekeepers were there clearly illustrates how things could have escalated had there been no-one watching over the peace. The elections would probably never have taken place. Once the elections had taken place, and after they had helped the Assembly to draft a new constitution, UNTAC had nothing left to do. Although Cambodia still has problems, it was not then and is still not now practical for the peacekeepers to take up permanent residence simply to observe, and ensure that peace is maintained once the mandate has been fulfilled.
They calmed the situation at the time but responsibility for long-term peace must be handed back to a valid government, otherwise the countries become little other than UN territories. Success of a mission should be measured by the effects of having the peacekeepers there, compared to the alternative had they never been, and as Anthony Parsons writes: .”.. the UNTAC operation, whatever the future may bring, must be accounted a notable success against heavy odds” (p 166, 1995).
2. 3 Lebanon I have included Lebanon because this is a case where the peacekeepers have met with a lot of opposition in trying to do their work. People may believe this operation to have been a failure, but peacekeeping cannot be about leaving behind a completely calm and organised country.
Peacekeepers are called in because of the seriousness of the situation and expectations should be realistic – the most important functions for a peacekeepers are to defuse the situation and to stabilise things. In some instances peacekeepers are also mandated to try to improve the situation by helping implement complex agreements which will hopefully provide long term peace. Lebanon, which was a traditional Chapter Six operation, was extremely volatile due to the number of parties involved, but you only have to think how much worse it would have been if the peacekeepers hadn’t been there. Things were extremely complicated, and the peacekeepers were continually hindered from doing their job. When Lebanon became a sovereign state in 1944, the terms and arrangements made at the time were destined to make the country become unstable at one time or another, and most certainly are a major source of the state’s current instability. The troubles that this state has suffered since would perhaps not have been so troublesome had the Lebanese government been strong enough to fight back and defend itself, rather than just collapse.
The 6: 5 ratio of Christians to Muslim counted at the time could never be guaranteed to stay the same and yet the political structure was based on this split. There was guaranteed to be problems ahead, and many of the problems faced by peacekeepers still relate back to 1944. The creation of the United Arab Republic, and in particular Israel, was a catalyst. Following the expansion of Israel in 1967, and the movement of approximately 400 000 Palestinians from Israel into Southern Lebanon, the delicate balance of Muslims and Christians was upset, and civil war broke out. A characteristic of peacekeeping is that it remains impartial – it must not become a party to the dispute, for then it is not peacekeeping and it is not useful. The number of parties involved in this particular dispute make it harder for this characteristic to be fulfilled.
When the Palestinians moved into Southern Lebanon it dragged Lebanon into the “international arena”, and her own inbuilt instability meant that she was unable to cope. Firstly, the border between Lebanon and Israel, formerly quiet, became extremely active because that was where the Palestinians were. Then Syria sent in 30, 000 troops to try to guarantee a cease-fire however this simply added another party to the dispute, plus it meant that the Soviet Union was (unofficially) involved because of communist links via President Nasser’s UAR. Syria’s actions also served to antagonise Israel -Israel saw Syria as one of her worst neighbors.
Once the Soviet Union became involved the United States’ involvement became inevitable – the United States did not want communism spread any further than it already was. The fact that many of these relationships were unofficial made little difference. Another problem when there are so many involved is that peacekeepers may be seen as being more favorable to one of the parties, and therefore nullifying the “impartiality” value of peacekeeping. The establishment of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, hereafter referred to by it’s acronym UNIFIL, in 1978 therefore had a lot to sort out and the peacekeepers had a difficult task ahead of them.
Their mandate was to supervise the withdrawal of Israeli forces, calm and control the area and then hand back the land over to the Lebanese government. Firstly, they had to supervise the withdrawal of the Israeli forces. At first, the Israelis seemed to be withdrawing as agreed and they handed over three areas to the UN forces. However, the southernmost area was handed over to local Christian militias under the command of Major Saad Haddad, who was in league with Israel. This has caused the most problems for the peacekeeping operation: part two of the mandate, that being to calm and control the area, was impossible because the continued presence of the Christian militias (who were supported and equipped by the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) ) prevented the area from ever being “calm and controlled.” Peacekeepers established approximately 24 points within this area (according to Alan James, 1990) but this was extremely difficult for them – without full control of the area their effectiveness was massively undermined.
They were often fired at; they were unable to move about freely and were continuously harassed. In addition to this, the UNIFIL Headquarters were based in Naqoura – which was within Haddad’s enclave. The fact that the IDF continued to move freely (although they were supposed to have withdrawn) served as provocation to the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) and so the peacekeepers were never really able to stabilise the area as fully as they would have liked. Although this was therefore not a complete buffer zone, it certainly was better than having none – the hostility present would have definitely risen to further conflict. As the Israelis had moved south, withdrawing from Lebanon, the Lebanese and Palestinian forces tried to follow them which resulted in many conflicts which the UN settled. Following a number of these, it was held that those who, according to the PLO, had held positions throughout the Israeli occupation could stay, and non-military supplies would be let through to them.
This meant that approximately 300 men were allowed to stay within this so-called buffer zone, which only served to hinder the peacekeepers. There were also two zones where the Israelis had never won control, which meant that Tyre and a bridge across the Litany River remained outside of the area controlled by the UN. This weakened even further the idea of a continuous buffer zone. In 1982 Israel invaded again: the peacekeepers were unable to do anything to stop them, although that was outside their mandate in any case. The peacekeepers were now working in invaded territory, in the middle of a conflict. In addition to UNO GIL, the Multinational Force (MNF II) was sent back into Lebanon in 1982 following Israel’s movement into West Beirut, the Muslim area of the city.
The mandate was to come between the two sectors and also to reinstate Lebanese authority. The MNF II assisted at checkpoints; they patrolled the city with the Lebanese liaison officers and also assisted in training of the Lebanese army. This, however was no longer peacekeeping – the MNF II was helping to restore Lebanese authority and so was on the side of the Lebanese. Also France was still being viewed as the traditional protector of the Christian element while the United States were being seen as allies of Israel.
This seriously backfired – the American embassy in Beirut was bombed, there were many suicide bombings at the headquarters of the American and French contingents which resulted in the loss of nearly 300 soldiers. This force was withdrawn in early 1984 because they realised they were becoming a party to the dispute. However even against all of the opposition that they faced, the peacekeepers being there served a purpose: the numbers of parties involved meant it was very difficult for the peacekeepers to work but they still managed to keep everyday tension low. In any conflict if day to day things can be kept quiet it minimises the chances of things snowballing into more serious clashes. 3. Conclusions From the examples given I think that this has shown that in each case peacekeeping has had something to offer and has proved it’s usefulness time and time again.
Without peacekeeping, who would continue to monitor the buffer zones in Cyprus, or in Lebanon? Who would negotiate with parties on either side, impartially? If forces were withdrawn from Lebanon for example, fighting would ensue between the PLO Israel and Haddad’s men, thereby increasing the likelihood of further involvement by Syria. This would then lead to more international involvement and one way or another the international community would have to get involved again except this time possibly on a much more serious scale. Although peacekeeping itself does not resolve the disputes it helps to create a situation where the chances of further tensions can be kept at minimum, and therefore more chance of the issues being resolved. The basic principles of peacekeeping mean that a peacekeeping force can be welcomed by a country knowing that the work they will do is only that which is outlined in their mandate; that they will leave at any time if asked; that they are impartial and non-threatening; that they are there only to help resolve things and I think it is important that this option is always there for a nation in need.
To simplify things rather drastically, couples who have troubled marriages often find that by going to an impartial third party and talking about it, they can resolve their differences and make the marriage work. In a similar way the use of peacekeepers mean that parties in conflict can live together without continually fighting. The peacekeepers are there primarily to defuse the situation by simple things such as saving face: if one side feels that by agreeing to something they are going to lose face it may prevent them from agreeing to something they otherwise would. If peacekeepers are there it means that they can carry out duties and take the responsibility for them so that one side or another doesn’t have to. And once things start to move there is more chance of things calming down and resolving the issues. In most instances I believe they have shown they can defuse almost any situation and even if the situation then blows back up at a later date, the force is usually upgraded and adapted accordingly – for example UNEF I and UNEF II; ISCS in Cambodia and UNTAC.
There is obviously a desire for international peace: the concept of peacekeeping wouldn’t have arisen if there weren’t. The concept of peacekeeping is still valid and is still required, but how we approach it should be carefully monitored – as it is anyway. Because the usefulness of peacekeeping is affected by how the operations are managed, there should be reform in the UN simply to ensure that they are up to date with current requirements and that the rules relating to involvement should be monitored closely. The UN constantly has problems obtaining monies from member states and yet according to all of the books I have read on the subject, the amount spent on one particular peacekeeping operation is a small fraction of what is spent on defence and the military for the superpowers in particular.
Also, as Alan James writes (with reference to operations such as Cyprus where the peacekeepers there are managing to keep the situation relatively calm and controlled) he believes that the cost of the operation is a (small) price that the international community sees as worth paying just to keep things quiet and to prevent this dispute turning back into a “high street embarrassment.” Peacekeeping is a useful tool that can be utilised in a variety of ways to establish a more peaceful way of life. By working with the parties in dispute, and sending impartial workers in to monitor cease-fires or to help implement agreements, there is a chance of the parties resolving their differences. Peacekeeping can help the countries to calm down and try to work out a compromise without the flaring up of tempers and day to day clashes which would otherwise stop peace talks. Chopra, Jarat Back to the Drawing Board, The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists (March/April 1995) Pages 29-35 Parsons, Anthony From Cold War to Hot Peace Penguin Books: London (1995) James, Alan Peacekeeping In International Politics Macmillan Press: London (1990) Roberts, David Cambodia: Problems of a UN-brokered Peace The World Today (July 1992) Pages 129-132 Tha roor, Shashi Peace-Keeping: Principles, Problems, Prospects Naval War College Review (1993) Pages 9-21 Hill S M & Malik S P Peacekeeping and the United Nations Dartmouth Publishing Company: Aldershot (1996) Coat R A, Forsythe D P & Weiss T G The United Nations and Changing World Politics Westview Press: Oxford (1994).