Peace Keeping: Light After Dar Essay, Research Paper
PEACE KEEPING: Light after Darkness
This is a report discussing the UN’s and other countries, (including Australia) involvement in peace keeping mission through out the world and why they are controversial in today’s society. Included are my assessments on peace keeping missions past and present, also possible long-term effects and some possible solutions and recommendations.
Table Of Contents
Global situation 3.0
Sierra Leone 3.2
Palestine and the Middle East 3.3
The Australian Situation 4.0
East Timor 4.1
The Cost 4.2
Our long term commitments 5.0
The intent of this report is to discuss why international peace keeping missions are a controversial issue in Australia and indeed all of the other nations in the world. Background on the United Nations involvement in each of the cases is given and also background into the occurrences that created the need for peace keepers. The research I have used is obtained from various magazines and newspaper editorials as well as the U.N. web site. The issue of peace keeping is controversial because of the scale of the operations, the occurrences leading up to the event and, Australia’s current role in East Timor. It is recommend that the media continue to “hound” Nations that let the democratic process dissolve for any reason; especially where human lives are being taken.
Civil unrest in economically poor countries is slowly increasing. This is evident in the cases examined in this report. The level of unrest is usually at different stages but occurring simultaneously in similar circumstances. Social problems arise mainly in these countries through civil unrest, (with political leaders and parties) or between ethnic groups, as the combined incidents show. However, there are often many warning signs before an uprising becomes a blood bath. New Zealand Foreign Minister Phil Goff saw the signs and claimed that “Fiji was on the verge of civil war”(AAP 28/7/00). But the UN and other foreign countries are often unwilling to “stick their nose” into disputes where they are unwanted. In fact the UN generally has to be invited by the government of the country involved.
The countries analysed in this report will include East Timor, Palestine and the Middle East, Sierra Leone and Ireland. These countries are in different stages of conflict. Conflict in East Timor, although it has been happening for many years is still recent. The situation in Sierra Leone hasn’t changed recently. Conflicts Palestine and Ireland have been occurring for centuries. Also examined will be Somalia; which was a UN failure. In the last forty years over 1563 UN Troops, officials and aid workers have died in operations and the UN continues to spend billions of dollars every year (www.un.org/peacekeeping). Many civilian lives have been lost, as have lives from within the many factions the UN has dealt with.
Peace keeping is examined because it creates controversy, and the most controversial issue include the loss of lives, cost and refugees. Because of the awkward nature of global peace keeping in hostile regions, I will examine a few examples of peace keeping mission and also the consequences when the process fails.
Global situation 3.0
In most of the referred cases, U.N. intervention has helped calm the situation and begin the peace process. However in Somalia the conflict between the Tutsi and Hutu’s couldn’t be resolved by the UN Peace Keeping Force. According to the U.N. website the major contributing factors were “wide-spread famine, inter-clan fighting, absence of government authority and general lawlessness” (www.un.org/peacekeeping).
Sierra Leone 3. 2
The case in Sierra Leone is different and yet similar to Somalia. The peace keepers there have been in place since 1991 and the strength in numbers was still being increased as of May 2000 (www.un.org/ peacekeeping). According to McGeary, (22/5/00). Sierra Leone “is a perfect example of everything that could go wrong in a peace keeping operation”. In Sierra Leone it appears that Foday Sankoh (the rebel leader) authorises a massacre every other year, with civilians murdered, and children raped and mutilated. The result being the U.N. running with “their tails between their legs”. Fred Ekhard, a U.N. spokesman, said after one such incident in July 1999. “The R.U.F. (Revolutionary United Front) were supposed to hand in their weapons not, turn them on us” McGeary (22/5/00). Africa is a place that the West uses to solve its conscience on the cheap. On one hand people feel a general moral “pang” when slaughters rage there. On the other the Western countries are not willing to send troops to die to stop it. Some times a third factor makes the dilemma still more complicated; A warlord with all the power and with absolutely no interest in peace. The result in Sierra Leone is an inadequate U.N. response to civil unrest and public dissatisfaction with the U.N. response to the money spent. On the other hand without the U.N. presence would the situation getting be worse? Sierra Leone highlights why peacekeeping is a controversial issue.
Palestine and the Middle East 3. 3
Since 1948 the U.N. have had a mandate in Palestine/Israel, (although not constantly), and countless peace truces have been implemented to help the peace process. New out breaks of violence have also recently broken out in Jerusalem and the West bank as Palestinians and Jews jostle for the control of their sacred city. Since the end of World War 2, Jews who lived in Europe, and other places where they were persecuted, they slowly began moving back to Jerusalem. To find that it was inhabited by the Palestinians. In the Middle East the predominant conflicts are over religion, religious space, and different religious practices, Father(22/5/00).
This case warrants specific examination because the Israeli Armed Forces are using helicopter gunships and tanks against Palestinian civilian targets, (AAP, 28/7/00). With the recent hostilities raging into their fourth week, there are no signs of a cease in the fighting, with Yassar Arafat (the Palestinian leader) telling the Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak “to go to hell” early last week (AAP, 28/7/00). The death toll after three weeks was 123. The vast majority of the dead were Palestinians. Hundreds of refugees have also been fleeing to nearby refugee camps. With the way that the Israeli Government is handling the situation there mightn’t be an end in sight. This situation highlights that the peacekeeping efforts can have littler impact in a region.
The Australian Situation 4.0
East Timor 4. 1
The peacekeeping history of Australia is limited. Australia has been involved in countless wars despite this, and the strength of our Army, it’s peacekeeping abilities are rather limited. The effort in Bogainville and East Timor has obviously strained politics and the economy, especially with the implication of the Timor tax to higher bracket income earners. Recently, former opposition leader and Governor General Bill Hayden stated (Clausen,19/7/00) that our efforts would not have been successful without U.S. threats to Indonesia. Despite this, the peace keeping missions Australia has embarked on are a valuable experience for international relations efforts, and it shows that although Australia is a small country it is willing to be involved in such events. It also shows that we are willing fight to help countries that are less fortunate than ourselves.
Although East Timor is a small, new, country; with relatively little wealth and influence in the world, both Indonesia and Australia are trying to gain some standing with it. This is because of the rich oil reserves in the Timor sea and because Australia feels guilty for not taking action in 1975 when Indonesia took over East Timor, with a trail of bloodshed and the death of five Australian reporters. But this time however, Australia was over eager to involve itself, and because of the influence Australia is imposing in their ex-mandate, Indonesia (a military power in this region) has in some cases suspended its contact with Australian officials. Also Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer “snubbed” an Indonesian delegate recently. Peace keeping efforts have therefore resulted in strained, International relations and public disquiet.
The Cost 4. 2
The cost of independence for East Timor has come at a high price. Xanana Gusmao has paid a high price himself. The now “peoples leader” has spent years in Indonesian prisons for his countries quest for freedom. But the people have also paid a price; their years of oppression last year climaxed when their vote for autonomy
went sour and their Indonesian “captors” tried to quell their growing human rights demands. After reports that 78.5% of East Timorese people voted for Independence in an August 30 ballot, gangs of East Timorese militia men supported by factions of the Indonesian Army, ransacked the country (Clausen, 2000).
No one knows the cost in human lives, but some estimates are at 1000 people. However as many as 300,000 people were estimated to have left their homes and fled for West Timor. The Militia were successful in torching up to 80% of all the houses (approx. 65,000) , public buildings and essential utilities in Dili. Crops were burned and live stock slaughtered, Nothing was safe from fire or machete (Clausen, 2000), not even sacred places, government records, school books and phone boxes. When the first Australian troops landed in September 20 they found a land in ashes.
The cost to aid agencies has been huge. Over 20,000 emergency shelter kits have been distributed, and the U.N. has provided the materials to rebuild 35,000 destroyed homes. 95% of the schools needed repairs. 3/4 of the health clinics have been destroyed after the exit of Indonesian doctors it means that there are just 25 G.P’s and 1 surgeon for a population of 900,000 people. 90% of the Timorese people are farmers, and 50% of these are subsistence farmers After the Militia raids most of their homes and crops were burned, and their Machinery stolen. “Most farmers are back in their fields” said Serge Vernia co-ordinator of UNTAET. UNTEAT intend to hand out 2,000 water buffalo’s and 100,000 chickens, and irrigation systems will be repaired. The cost of repairs and the peace keeping contingent, will be billions of dollars.( Clausen 2000)
Our long term commitments 5.0
Because of the size of its economy the peace keeping mission is straining Australia’s military capabilities. This shows other nations in our region the extent of Australia’s capabilities, making it an easy target. If the Australian armed forces are struggling to keep control of a country that is less that 200 square kilometres how can they defend the largest island in the world? Despite the costs most of the people in Australia support our operation in a East Timor because, we feel sorry for the people, and we identify with their hardships. After all, the government has done the same thing to the Aboriginal people for the last 150 years. In the next 50 or more years Australia will be a big influence in the new country of East Timor, after all Australia is the country that gave them their freedom, liberty and autonomy. War and conflict is one of the worst side effects of human civilisation. The impact of the sights of war on the human mind is incalculable. Australia will have to pay for the counselling and injuries of Australian troops.
Because of Indonesia’s inability to comprehend that freedom is one of lifes greatest assets, after time even the most oppressed peoples will try to gain their freedom. The magnitude of peace keeping missions through out the world shows that in this democratic age the United Nations, and the people they represent won’t accept strong arm military tactics against civilians.
Military Peace keeping roles all over the world are important to the human race as a whole, because it seems the more civilised society becomes the more barbaric the crimes against humanity become. The economically wealthy nations of the U.N. try to get as much peace for their money as possible. By this I mean that they are willing to enter into Peace keeping missions providing that they are getting some benefit. Whether it is votes for the current government or a hope to profit out of their “good will” in the future. My opinion in this case is that as long as the U.N. enters in to peace keeping missions in a half hearted nature, for example sending the entire military might of Nigeria to help the peace process in Sierra Leone is not viable. Poor, untrained, unequipped and untried “soldiers” (term used loosely), in place to fight off militia members, in identical circumstances. This is just as wrong as the actions committed by Foday Sankoh when his rebels mutilated small children; except more cowardly, because the soldiers that die just as unfortunate as the militia members.
The U.N. will always involve itself in the civil unrest problems of other countries because they seem easier than the similar tasks required their own country. Australia would have just as many homeless and poor people as East Timor, but our government decided to kindly help the people of another nation, probably at greater expense. The perfect “civilised” western nations should try to fix the problems in their own countries rather that “skulking off” in a “slapdash” attempt to fix someone else’s. Yes the people of East Timor are a worthy cause, and this is their time of need. The Australian Government though could have done something to help our own country any time in the last 150 years. America is similar, although the Kosovars are a worthy cause each day in America five people on death row are executed; the state of Texas kills more criminals each year, than all the other countries where the “death penalty” is still imposed. The media is actively covering the plight of poor people with poor human rights or oppressed people being murdered. This is good because the more people that get the message the bigger the public outcry, therefore governments are more likely to act, because governments don’t do nice things just for the “warm funny feeling”. The media covering ghastly events such as these, is the best possible thing that can happen prior to a peace keeping force arriving and even after to monitor the activities. On an Australian point I also recommend that Australia enlarge it’s military capabilities just to deter such things happening to us because what good are allies if you’re already dead, and your county has already been ransacked.
AAP.(July 28th 2000)Positive sign for peace deal, Cairns Post.
AAP.(July 28th 2000)Trouble burns in Peru, Cairns Post.
AAP.(July 28th 2000)East Timor Peace booster, Cairns Post.
Conway. D,(May 25th 2000)Trouble in Paradise, The Courier Mail.
Clausen. L, (June 19th 2000)Under clearing skies, Time Magazine.
Craven. N, (Oct 20th 2000)Crack troops nab lynching mob, Courier Mail.
Craven. N, (Oct 20th 2000)Teared “cherries” go for the heart, Courier Mail.
Father. M, (May 22nd 2000)Frozen in time, Time Magazine.
Hajari. N, (Nov 1st 1999)A new day dawns, Time Magazine.
McAllister. J,(May 22nd 2000)Ulster’s Choice, Time Magazine.
McGeary. J,(May 22nd 2000)When peace cannot be kept, Time Magazine.