Peacekeeping In The PostCold War Era Essay

Peacekeeping In The Post-Cold War Era Essay, Research Paper

The Future of United Nations Peacekeeping in the Post-Cold War Era By Michael Bassik Introduction: The intense economic and diplomatic struggles that defined the Cold War greatly influenced UnitedNations peacekeeping tactics. From 1945 to 1991, the United Nations Security Council was constantlytroubled by the lack of cooperation between the Council s permanent members, specifically the UnitedStates and the Soviet Union, whose constant political power struggle made collective security withinthe UN nearly impossible. When international security was threatened, the Security Council was oftenunable to deter security threats because the Soviet Union vetoed every action that remotely involvedthe United States, as did the United States to the Soviet Union. “Peacekeeping, therefore, emerged inresponse to the lack of Great Power co-operation and became successful, to a degree, in bringing atleast some order to the international system if not total peace.” Peacekeeping was adopted during theCold War period to take the place of the constant stalemate between the US and the USSR and it wasutilized to serve as a substitute for collective security.i Oftentimes, necessary humanitarian aid would be denied to countries backed by opposing Cold Warnations, even if it were not a matter of political concern. Conflicts between Cold War rivals in UNpolicy-making bodies instilled a real fear of a global nuclear holocaust into the international communityas superpowers formed alliances with powerful nations across the globe1.ii It became the role of UNpeacekeepers to deter conflicts at all costs in order to avoid United States and Soviet Unioninvolvement in international peacekeeping endeavors. Not to the surprise of the internationalcommunity, the end of the Cold War symbolized an increase in the UN s active involvement inmaintaining international peace and security. Events such as the Gulf War demonstrated the immense power of the United Nations when the SovietUnion and the United States joined forces to overcome Iraqi aggression. As U.S. troops were deployedto Iraq in early 1991, the world realized that a new era of global cooperation was eminent and the ColdWar had finally ended. The new relationship between the world s superpowers allowed the UN todrastically increase its involvement in international conflicts. By 1992, only one year after the officialend to the Cold War, peacekeeping forces had been deployed to ten different crisis locations includingmissions in Cambodia, El Salvador, the Western Sahara, Cambodia, Iraq, Kuwait, and Angola. 1991 also saw the end to conflicts between Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as conflicts betweenIran and Iraq. Between 1988 and 1991, the most peaceful period of the Cold War, more peacekeepingmissions had been established than during the rest of the Cold War. The end of the power strugglebetween the United States and the Soviet Union signaled the beginning of a period where UNPeacekeeping forces could finally focus on their primary goals of peace preservation and conflictresolution. Statement of the Issue: Although numerous political scientists have disproved Samuel Huntington s essay, “The Clash ofCivilizations?,” one is forced to wonder why such an inaccurate testimony was examined so carefully.He expounds that with the end of the Cold War, the majority of conflicts will not be between differentnations, but rather, between different civilizations. Huntington predicts conflicts will erupt betweenbroad social groups such as the Western Christians and the Orthodox Christians (these two, he says,divide Central Europe from Eastern Europe), not between nations like the U.S. and Russia. The reasonhis thesis drew so much attention is because it was the first educated hypothesis addressing the newglobal threat following the end of the Cold War. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the constantpower struggle that dominated politics since 1945 ceased to exist. Huntington posed a logical answer toa question on every world leader s mind: Who, or rather, what will be the new world threat. When the Cold War ended, it took along with it many conflicts between countries, and from this timeperiod emerged new and different intra-national conflicts that have marked the remainder of the 20thcentury. As the Soviet Union eased its control over Eastern Europe, wars erupted betweenideologically different groups within these individual countries. The UN signaled its commitment topreventing internal conflicts in volatile nations such as Cambodia, Namibia and El Salvador by providingpeacekeepers to not only quell conflicts but to enforce democracy by assisting in local elections andreconstructing weak governments. Missions were not deployed to merely end conflicts; but to regainorder and democracy in societies ridden with corruption and economic failure. With this new breed ofpeacekeeping, a new sense of optimism seemed to sweep the international community. However, this new breed of peacekeeping began to crumble as narrowly tailored political interestsregained control of Security Council initiatives. The short period of peacekeeping success “was to beseriously questioned by the humanitarian failures of the international community” namely in nationssuch as Rwanda and Somalia. Although international peacekeeping has come a long way since the endof the Cold War, there remains much ground to be covered. The following analysis will attempt to show why the UN missions during the Cold War were, for themost part, successful, and why the early 90 s experienced peacekeeping success that surpassed theCold War achievements. The bulk of the analysis, however, will explore why the post-Cold Warmentality was abandoned in 1992 and what the future of UN Peacekeeping will bring. Analysis I (Cold War 1992): Peacekeeping missions during the Cold War period were almost all successful. Their goals were notlofty and the missions were well executed, each with the four necessary components to successfulpeacekeeping intact. The peacekeepers were all familiar with proper military tactics, they all sought outthe trust of the warring parties so they would not see UN intervention as a threat, they remained in theconflict area after agreements were reached to ensure their implementation, and lastly, the missionsmeet all of the following criteria: they had proper funding, international support, permission from thehost state to intervene, and lastly, they had the political cooperation of both warring parties. Thesestandards, designed by Alan James, enabled even the first peacekeeping mission (UN SpecialCommission on the Balkans, UNSCOB, 1947-1951) to be successful. Barring the UN YemenObservation Mission (UNYOM) and the UN Operation in the Congo (ONUC), the other 11 UNmissions during the Cold War were a true testament to the organization s commitment to successfulobserver and peacekeeping missions. As the mid-1980 s approached, the international community was astounded by what seemed to be thestart of a slow end to the Cold War. When Mikhail Gorbachev became the general secretary of theCommunist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) in 1985, thoughts of a decentralized and democratizedSoviet Union eased tension between the Communist nation and the United States. Although his tenureled to the downfall of communism and the collapse of the Soviet Union, Gorbachev was awarded theNobel Peace Prize in 1990 for ending the Soviet Union s Cold War domination of Eastern Europe. Both the United States, under Presidents Reagan and Bush, and the Soviet Union, under Gorbachev,”spurred on by domestic financial problems,” put a halt on “overtly expensive support for regimes inareas of the world which they no longer deemed to be in their nation interests.” For the first time sincethe mid-1970 s, it appeared as though the UN was back on track to preventing international conflictswith a renewed cooperation from the two largest superpowers in the world. Within six years of Gorbachev s election, the United Nations placed ten new peacekeeping missionsaround the globe. These missions symbolized an end to the Cold War and a new beginning ofinternational cooperation. The first mission that was a direct result of Security Council cooperationfrom both the USSR and the US was the UN Good Offices Mission in Afghanistan and Pakistan(UNGOMAP). This mission s goal was to enforce the Settlement of the Situation Relating toAfghanistan, also referred to as the Geneva Accords. The Accords called for Pakistan andAfghanistan to form a mutually beneficial relationship. It also called for a “bilateral agreement betweenAfghanistan and Pakistan on the voluntary return of refugees.” Both the United States and The SovietUnion signed the Accords. This peacekeeping mission implanted hopes in the international communitythat the world s superpowers could forever corroborate on UN related endeavors. The mostremarkable aspect of UNGOMAP was that the Geneva Accords also “contained provisions for thetimetable and modalities of the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan.” Before Gorbachev,agreements such as these would have been impossible, for never would the USSR withdraw troopsfrom a nation during the Cold War. It was this mission that paved the way for General Assemblyresolution 48/208 (1993) and that helped Afghanistan get UN support for “rapprochement andreconstruction” of its failing economy and government less than two years after UNGOMAP. The moral of the peacekeepers was still very high by the end of 1991, and the United Nations wasfinally regaining the confidence of the international community as an organization entirely devoted tointernational peace and well being. UNGOMAP was the UN s first new mission since 1975 and itssuccess was unmatched. UNAVEM (UN Angolan Verification Mission), which was commissionedwith monitoring Cuban withdrawal of troops from Angola, managed to end its mission two monthsahead of schedule. UNAVEM “demonstrated just what can be achieved by a UN peacekeepingoperation when it receives the full co-operation of the parties concerned.” One other example of thesuccess of the first ten missions immediately following the Cold War is that of ONUCA (UN ObserverGroup in Central America), the first mission in the Western hemisphere. ONUCA enforced acease-fire during an election period in Nicaragua and later helped with the new government s transitionof power . It was also the UN s first experience with physical disarmament. By Early 1992, the United Nations upheld the impeccable image as the enforcer of world peace. TheUnited Nations was unified and goal oriented as demonstrated by the fact that it was almost threeyears since a Security Council nation vetoed a proposal. For the first time in history, the UN exercisedChapter VII of the UN Charter during the Gulf War to implement economic sanctions on aggressornations. By July of 1992, Boutros Boutros-Ghali had prepared his “An Agenda for Peace,” which calledfor new and more effective conflict resolution tactics. The Agenda seemed to be a true indicator thatthe UN was on a different route than the one taken during the Cold War. In spite of all of these achievements, as the peacekeeping missions increased the UN s presencearound the globe, administrators failed to properly examine the eminent problems surrounding thelogistics of its missions. Suddenly, the future of the United Nations did not look so bright. “Less than tenmonths [after 1991] the UN had realised that its resources for planning, deploying and maintainingoperations in the field were totally inadequate for the number, size and complexity of the operationwhich the international community had called upon it to conduct.” After the costly and unsuccessfulmission to reform and reconstruct the failing state of Cambodia (UNTAC) and the even moreunsuccessful follow-up mission to UNTAC, the United Nations Advance Mission in Cambodia(UNAMIC), extremely crucial missions such as the United Nations Operation in Somalia and the UNProtection Force in the Rwanda failed miserably and placed a large clout of insecurity over the futureof UN peacekeeping. Analysis II (1992-1995): With the increase in intra-state conflicts since the late 1980 s, there has been an increase in thedemand for United Nations humanitarian aid assistance in nations such as Somalia, Rwanda and theformer Yugoslavia.. In the time between 1992 and 1995, UN peacekeepers found themselves assistingin the return of millions of refugees, restoring functioning governments capable of enforcing law andorder, and providing medical to victims of civil wars and natural disasters. However, with the increasein the demand for humanitarian aid came an onslaught of unforeseen problems for the United Nations.Peacekeepers found themselves taking sides in regional conflicts, a direct violation of Chapter VI ofthe UN charter, and contradicting their own presupposed goals by preventing their enemies to accessfood and supplies. As the UN increased its involvement in areas such as Somalia and Rwanda, localgroups saw the involvement as a threat and the peacekeepers were often forced to defend themselvesagainst those they were trying to protect. Crisis in Somalia: Internal problems plagued the efforts of United Nations Operation in Somalia I (UNOSOM I) from themissions inception. The mission was created to aid Somali citizens who were left without food andmedical attention during a devastating civil war. UNOSOM I was also commissioned with ending thecivil unrest and restoring order and leadership in the nation. But just before peacekeeping forces wereto arrive in Somalia, on June 23, 1992, Mohammed Aideed, one of the rebel Somali leaders inMogadishu, withdrew his invitation for UN assistance. The soldiers were merely going to Somalia toassist with protecting UN personal who were delivering humanitarian aid to innocent victims of the civilwar, but Aideed was angered when he saw a Russian plane overhead delivering supplies to enemyforces. So angered by the disposition, even one of the mission s leaders, Mohammed Shanoun, calledAideed s actions “understandable” due to the “lack of vigilance” on behalf of the United Nations andRussia. Without sufficient protection for the UN aid forces, the UN was forced to hire local soldiers as

protection from the ongoing civil uprisings. Finally, on August 28, 1992, 3,500 UN peacekeepers hadmanaged to infiltrate the borders of Mogadishu and began enforcing its original mission, formed inSecurity Council resolution 751. Just as it seemed as though the peacekeepers could begin to focus on their mission, the SecurityCouncil passed resolution 775 which called for increases in personnel and a disarmament program, bothof which were never approved by Aideed. Growing frustrated with failed United Nations attempts,Aideed viewed resolution 775 as a UN threat, and security issues in Somalia deteriorated worse thanhad anticipated. Boutros Boutros-Ghali s “An Agenda for Peace” had clearly outlined ways in which to increase theefficiency of UN peacekeeping, however, by November 1992 it seemed as though his suggestions hadbeen ignored. Without proper funding and lacking the necessary pre-planning procedures, the UN wasburdened with unsuccessful peacekeeping missions and the deteriorating image of the organization as awhole. The mission s failure to preserve peace and provide sufficient aid to a distraught Somaliaproved to be an unfortunate indicator of the future of new peacekeeping missions. UNOSOM I transformed into UNITAF on in March of 1993. Security was still an issue in Somalia andthe nation still lacked a proper functioning government, an organized civilian police force and adisciplined national army. Later in 1993 UNITAF transformed into UNISOM II with the new initiativesthat would remedy the failures under UNOSOM I. Security Council document S/25168 established thefollowing steps for UNOSOM II s military actions: 1.the transition of operational control from UNITAF, with continuing military support to relief activities and the disarming of factions; 2.the effective deployment and consolidation of the UN operational control throughout Somalia and the border regions; 3.the reduction of UNOSOM II military activity, and assistance to civil authorities in exercising greater responsibility 4.the establishment the Somali national police force as an operational task force; 5.the redeployment or reduction of UNOSOM II forces. Even with new leadership and new goals established, the UNOSOM II mission still failed miserably.The lack of knowledge UN peacekeepers had of the traditional clan society in Somalia damaged hopesof an early cease-fire. One misunderstanding of the clan society is exemplified by the United Nationsignorance in forgetting to invite Somali intellectuals and village elders to conferences between thefourteen battling warlords. The UN further dampened the peace process when in July of 1993peacekeepers attacked the suspected headquarters of Mohammed Aideed, killing 50 Somalis, injuring170 more. During the attack, clan leaders and important religious figureheads were also injured. Itseemed as though UN presence in Mogadishu was achieving the exact opposite of what it had set outto accomplish. By November 1992, the Security Council decided, by means of ruling out all other possible options, toenforce Chapter VII of the UN Constitution, which deals with “action with respect to threats to thepeace, breaches of the peace, and acts of aggression. The United States lead 28,000 US troops and2,000 UN (UNITAF) troops to Somalia under the joint command of President George Bush and UNleaders. However, the United Nation and the United States had very different views as to the level ofinvolvement and the overall goals of the mission. While the Security Council wanted to see UNITAFprovide humanitarian relief for the Somali people, disarm Somali rebels, diffuse land mines throughoutthe country, set up a functional government, and train their police force, the US was only dedicated tocreating “security conditions which will permit the feeding of the starving Somali people and [then]allow the transfer of this security function to the UN peacekeeping force.” By the time the Clinton administration was prepared to hand over the mission back to UN controlin1994, it seemed as though the US had exaggerated the extent of their success. However, Clinton wasnot about to stand by and watch US soldiers die for a lost cause. His final decision to withdraw troopscame after the sixth attempt to overthrow Aideed, in which 18 US soldiers were killed, 78 were injured,and one Nigerian peacekeeper was abducted. The United States left UNISOM II with the tremendoustask of establishing law and order, a functional economy, and a viable health care system, with a mere2,000 peacekeepers. In short, UNISOM I, UNITAF and UNISOM II were complete failures. Although food supplies didreach the Somali victims, the UN s original goals established in Security Council 751 (1992) were notcarried out. Upon leaving Somalia in March of 1995, the nation was still a political and economicwreck. In “Somalia: from humanitarian intervention to military offensive?,” S.M. Makinda sites the gapbetween what was desired by the Security Council and what was possible, the problems created byUNOSOM II s command and control structure, the multiple divisions among the different nations thatcontributed to the peacekeeping force, and the lack of trust and respect from the Somali warlords,equally contributed to a joint United Nations/United States failed mission. Although the joint US/UNmission was commendable on both sides for its efforts, the Under-Secretary General forPeacekeeping, and the future Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, stated that “thedecision to leave Somalia,” a mission that cost over $1.5 billion, “had been deliberate and painful. TheSecurity Council felt compelled to let the protagonists know that there was a limit to the internationalcommunity s patience and resources.” Lack of support from warring factions in Somalia was the main downfall of the mission. The option forpolitical compromise and national reconciliation was overturned the second UN peacekeepers tooksides in the mission. Boutros Boutros-Ghali, reporting to the Security Council in March of 1995 notedthat there were important lessons for future missions to be learned from such a failure. He stated thatthe lesson learned is in the “theory and practice of multifunctional peace-keeping operations inconditions of civil war and chaos and especially about the clear line that needs to be drawn betweenpeace-keeping and enforcement actions.” Jonathan T. Howe, the secretary-general s special representative to the mission in Somalia describedthe mission complete failure. “U.N. peacekeeping soldiers went to starving Somalia on what was billedas a humanitarian-relief/nation-building mission and came away bloodied. If we are going to persist inpeace-enforcement operations in broke countries, we need to field forces mandated and prepared towithstand armed opposition, even as they restore order.” Crisis in Rwanda: In the early 1950 s, Rwanda, a Belgian colony, was inhabited by three different ethnic groups: theHutus, the Tutsi and the Twa. Because the groups shared the same language and customs, there werenever many disagreements among them. However, around 1955, the Belgian government required thatmembers of all groups carry personal identification cards indicating to which group they belonged.Once the identification system was in place, a silent battle evolved between the groups as socialcategories and discrimination developed based upon the group to which you belonged. Although theyonly constituted 14% of the entire population, the Tutsi dominated the next four years. However, in1959, the Hutus’ “social revolution” ended Tutsi rule and left Rwanda in a state of economic turmoil andconstant ethnic violence. From 1959 until 1967 there were ten documented attempts to destroy theHutus rule by the Tutsi. In 1973, Major-General Juv nal Habyarimana took control of the governmentthrough a violent takeover, and installed programs to “ethnically balance” the nation through continuedviolence. However, in 1990, President Habyarimana announced that Rwanda was to be transformedinto a multi-party democracy. A mere ten months after the announcement, a Tutsi terrorist group(Rwandese Patriotic Front – RPF) based in Uganda (Rwanda s neighbor to the north) launched attacksacross the Uganda-Rwanda border in protest of the governmental changes. In response to the attack,Habyarimana labeled all Tutsi living in Rwanda accomplices to RPF, and a civil war broke out inRwanda and over the Uganda-Rwanda border. Although a number of cease-fire resolutions had been established between 1990 and 1992, the violencecontinued. Finally, on February 22, 1993, leaders in Rwanda and Uganda petitioned the United Nationsfor help in settling the dispute. After surveying the situation in Rwanda, as mandated in SecurityCouncil resolution 812 (1993), the Security Council formed the United Nations Observer Mission forUganda and Rwanda (UNOMUR) on June 22, 1993, with resolution 846. The mission faced problems from its inception. UNOMUR s first task, monitoring the smuggling ofarms across the Rwandan-Uganda border by RPF forces, was marred by the RPF s refusal to allowpeacekeepers to establish a base on the Rwandan side of the border. However, by December 1993,the RPF allowed peacekeepers to be stationed in Uganda, Rwanda, and along the border. By August1993, it seemed as though both sides were committed to settling the dispute and they both allowed fromthe UN to establish UNAMIR (United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda) which was delegatedthe responsibility of overseeing peace talks between both sides and enforcing resolutions that wereestablished at the Arusha Accords. UNAMIR was also commissioned to “monitor the observance ofthe cease-fire agreement” signed at the Arusha Accord, assist in the removal of land mines from thearea, investigate all those responsible for not upholding the Arusha Accord, “monitor the repatriation ofRwandan refugees” and “assist in the co-ordination of investigating incidents regarding the activities ofthe police.” UNAMIR was also in charge of coordinating a transitional government in Rwanda. Just as both sides seemed to be close to ending the battles that began three decades ago, tensionsreached an all-time high when the Cabinet Ministers in Burundi (Rwanda s neighbor to the south) wereshot and killed in October of 1993 by RPF forces due to their support of President Habyariamana.After the assassinations more than 500,000 refugees left Rwanda and Burundi and inundated thatborder territories of Tanzania and Zaire (Rwanda s neighbors to the east and west, respectively). Sanitation conditions in areas settled by misplaced refugees were so horrible that a new diseaseepidemic broke in Rwanda and its border countries. As if the constant warfare was not enough for UNPeacekeepers to be occupied with, now more peacekeepers were needed in the area to providehumanitarian aid. Fighting had slowed down and mortality rates among the two warring sides had decreased, but thistemporary slowing-down period quickly came to an end as RPF Tutsi rebels shot down a plane thatwas transporting Rwandan President Habyarimana and Burundi President Cyprien Ntaryamira toKigali airport. In response to the shootings, members of rebel Hutu tribes opened fire on Rwandan and UN officials,claiming the lives of one Rwandan leader and eleven peacekeepers. After long and drawn out debates within the Security Council it was decided that the mission wasentirely unsuccessful and there was not much 2,500 soldiers could do to prevent further violencethroughout the area. With estimates as high as 500,000 Rwandans killed since 1990, the SecurityCouncil believed the only way to regain control of the land was through peace talks. Resolution 912was passed on April 21, 1994 which allowed from the evacuation of UN peacekeepers from the area,and a new set of 270 new peacekeepers and negotiators were sent into the area. Without the fullcooperation of Rwandan officials and the RPF, negotiators and peacekeepers had noting to do butreiterate the importance of the Arusha Accord. Under pressure from African nations and Non-Governmental Organizations, the UN decided it wasnecessary to become more involved in the peace process in Rwanda. So, on May 19, 1994, theSecurity Council formed UNAMIR II with resolution 918. This force would “support and provide safeconditions for displaced persons and other groups in Rwanda” while providing “assistance tohumanitarian organisations and monitoring protected areas along the Rwandan border.” However,without sufficient support from the United States, the deployment of UNAMIR II was delayed untilmid-June. Once in Rwanda, peacekeepers, composed of 800 troops from Ghana, Ethiopia, and Senegalwere still unable to accomplish the goals of resolution 918 without the full support of the United States.When the US finally conceded to allow the troops to carry out their mission, the Security Councilpassed resolution 919 to combine the goals outlined in 918 to make up for the time lost. But, much tothe surprise of UN officials, Ghanaian officials removed 300 troops from their arsenal, leaving themission with a mere 500 peacekeepers. Fearing a complete RPF takeover of the Rwandan government, the Security Council passed aUS-backed French initiative to deploy 5,500 troops to Rwanda to protect refugees and prevent theprogress of RPF forces. The Security Council also called for “temporary multinational operations aimedat contributing to the security and protection of displaced persons, refugees and civilians at risk inRwanda” acting under the auspices of Chapter VII of the UN Charter. But the plan was implementedtoo late and on July 14, 1994, RPF forces took full control of Rwanda, excluding the “safe-zone”inhabited by the 5,500 peacekeepers. With two million refugees protected by the “safe-zone,” FrenchPresident Mitterrand pulled out 1,200 of its soldiers, against the wishes of the UN. Rwandan leaderswere so distraught by the RPF takeover, that they asked the UN forces to reorganize or leave theterritory altogether citing the missions as “costly, useless and undisciplined.” Rwandan leaders accusedthe peacekeepers of creating “tensions with the local population[s]” of their territory. These commentsoutraged the international community and labeled Rwandan leaders as being ungrateful, but the truth ofthe matter was that Rwandan officials were correct in their assessment of the accomplishment of thepeacekeepers. Although disease was still rapidly spreading throughout Rwandan refugees and attempts to thwartviolence in the area were unsuccessful, there was no longer enough international support to continueefforts to assist the Rwandan government. Without the support of Rwandan and RPF officials, the UNhad no choice but to end the UNAMIR mission. By June of 1995 only 1,500 peacekeepers remained inRwanda and by March of 1996 the mission was officially ended with Security


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