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'THE FAILURES OF THE CURRENT APPROACH TO UN WORLDWIDE PEACEKEEPING OPERATIONS - JUN 2002'


11th September 2001
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FROM: http://www.endgenocide.org/ceg-rrf/problems.htm

THE FAILURES OF THE CURRENT APPROACH TO PEACE OPERATIONS

"At present it is as if when a fire breaks out, we must first build a fire station to respond. Rapid deployment can prevent enormous agony, and we must continue to work with member states to reduce the time it takes for the U.N. to put peacekeepers in the field."

- UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, February 11, 2000

(June 2002)

The responsibilities of United Nations' peace operations have greatly expanded and become much more complex since the end of the Cold War, yet the resources allocated and the support necessary to satisfy those responsibilities has not expanded with the need. Indeed, in recent years the U.N. has been forced to work under horrific budget constraints, imposed by misguided legislation foisted on the U.N. by its largest supporter, the United States. The budget constraints, combined with other systemic shortcomings, have greatly reduced the effectiveness and efficiency of peace operations to staggeringly low levels. The U.N. has recognized the difficulties it faces. The August 2000 Report of the Panel on U.N. Peace Operations (the Brahimi Report) has identified many areas that need either improvement or complete overhaul.

The first problem is one of understanding. One of the goals of a peacekeeping operation is to project credible force, so that those who would "spoil" the peace by creating new conflict are constrained. But too often the mandate, the goals, the equipment and the skill level of the troops for the mission are not adequate to the task-they cannot deal with a 'worst-case scenario' situation. Peacekeeping operations of the nineties have often been located in conflict areas where there was a stalemate and where the parties were not necessarily committed to ending the confrontation. If hostile parties are not serious about resolving their conflict without violence and peacekeepers are sent in anyway, but not equipped or mandated properly, the result has often been failure.

Such situations may arise when a possible genocide is taking place, such as in Rwanda in early 1994 when U.N. forces were instructed to withdraw rather than protect those being massacred during the genocide, or when there is a stalemate between warring parties, such as when the U.N. peacekeepers in Sierra Leone were kidnapped and held captive by RUF (Revolutionary United Front) forces because they were not allowed to adequately defend themselves. It also happened in the former Yugoslavia, where U.N. forces at Srebrenica were helpless to prevent what is believed to be the single largest slaughter of humans since World War II. From these cases and others, the Brahimi Report identified a crucial lesson-the U.N. cannot always be totally impartial when operating under conditions where conflict still simmers. It must be prepared and ready to respond to violence with sufficient force to protect innocent civilian lives.

One of the biggest problems, however, and the most difficult to overcome, is garnering enough political will from member states of the U.N. to support peace operations. Political will refers to the need for member states to become seriously committed to the objective of ensuring global security and peace in areas of unrest. Without the support of member states, and their recognition that peace operations are a vital responsibility for the U.N., those peace operations will ultimately fail.

Unfortunately, domestic national interest too often interferes with a coherent approach to U.N. peace operations, and in so doing ignores the relevance peace operations pose to national security, as well as to the greater humanitarian good. There are fundamental political fissures that allow peace operations to be used as a political tool. The conflict of member states interests (especially within the U.N. Security Council) has had an enormous impact on the U.N. in terms of peacekeeping operations. Domestic interests have resulted in the failure of U.N. peace operations to be fully or correctly mandated, prepared, or able to engage properly in an effective and successful mission.

Peacekeeping operations can be hindered in terms of their responsiveness and initiative by strict and narrow mandates dictated by the U.N. Security Council. The U.N. and its activities are only a reflection of its member states. Thus, U.N. peace operations can only progress as far as the member states want and allow them to. The Security Council in the past has drafted and passed broad mandates for peace operations without first accruing sufficient troop and equipment commitments from member states to properly implement the resolution. This often leaves the Secretary General to scramble and in essence 'beg' member states to donate troops and other personnel and equipment. It also ensures that troops arrive in country without being properly equipped and ready to take on their mandate, which creates large logistical problems right from the start of the mission. Currently there are no requirements that the Security Council should create clear and achievable mandates, which would prevent these types of problems. But again, the Brahimi Report has identified the issue of the mandates as critical to the overall success or failure of U.N. peace operations.

Financing is another major problem for peace operations. All member states are obligated to pay their share of peacekeeping costs under a formula that they themselves have agreed upon. Unfortunately, as of the end of 2000 $2.1 billion (need more current figures) is due in current and back peacekeeping dues by member states. These arrears are debilitating for current and future peace operations. Quite often, the U.N. is unable to pay troop-contributing nations the agreed-upon rate for their contribution to a mission. This makes it all the more difficult to secure troops for the next mission. Purchases of equipment for rapid deployment of troops for missions are incomplete because of budget troubles. The U.N. frequently juggles money from one account to another to pay for basic needs such as electricity bills, again because of shortfalls caused by member states failing to pay legally obligated dues. The U.S. is by far the largest culprit, owing ??

U.N. peace operations are currently conducted on an ad hoc basis. The U.N. does not have a standing military or police force that can be ready to deploy on short notice, which precludes any real type of rapid response. U.N. peacekeeping forces take months-to-years to organize, deploy, and effectively establish themselves in the conflict area, which allows further escalation of conflict. For peace operations to be effective, rapid deployment of forces is vital, and is the only way the end result will be saved lives. If the U.N. had had the ability to deploy forces within thirty days of the realization that genocide was taking place in April 1994, hundreds of thousands of Rwandan Tutsi lives could have been spared.

The Brahimi Report noted that not only are troops, civilian police, and civilian administrators not on ready reserve for peace operations, but neither is the equipment necessary to support such operations. Equipment procurement and storage is another component of peace operations that is severely lacking. When it comes to peace operations, the U.N. would have the capacity to respond more quickly if standardized equipment was stored and ready to be used on short notice.

The Report also noted that the vast majority of the time lag problems of peace operations is not the fault of the peacekeepers themselves, but rather actors and causes beyond their control. For peace operations to become more effective, the managerial structure and capacities of the U.N. and UNDPKO (United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations) must be changed. It is simply not possible for a handful of staff at U.N. headquarters in New York to effectively or properly manage nearly 60,000 personnel in the field, serving in missions throughout the world.

U.N. headquarters lacks necessary flexibility, autonomy, and resources and is often forced to operate without clear mandates, as noted earlier. At the same time, few officials at U.N. headquarters can be held accountable for the performance of the department. The organizational structure of the DPKO must also be altered. It must have better resources for planning and implementation. The U.N. lacks the staff necessary to run the basic operations of the DPKO office. Organizational restructuring should also include the latest technology for communication and transportation and the means to gather and analyze information.

The DPKO needs the capability to conduct fact-finding missions and gather field intelligence. At this time there is no intelligence and information analysis program for peace operations. As a result, leaders of peacekeeping missions are left without the adequate information necessary to conduct the operation. Effectiveness and efficiency missions could be greatly improved by having an intelligence and information analysis capacity already in place.

Often when peace agreements are signed, DDR (disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration) components are included. The United Nations, the international actor most likely to monitor peace agreement compliance, lacks substantive DDR programs. These programs are also dependent upon having adequate personnel, equipment, and political will to support such operations.

The nature of conflicts today is much different than since the end of the Cold War, and therefore the nature of U.N. peace operations is in turn more complex than the "first generation" peace operations. In the past decade the vast majority of deadly conflicts have been internal rather than state vs. state. These conflicts have also primarily involved civilians (as victims, refugees, internally displaced populations, 'freedom fighters', etc.) rather than paid soldiers. The "civilian" components of peace operations have thus become more relevant and prominent. Certain "civilian" components of peace operations include electoral assistance and governance support as part of a broader strategy of international security. Another important civilian component of peace operations includes CIVPOL - the U.N. civilian police. Police inherently are more integrated in with the populace of a society than military soldiers and interact with the people more. There is a growing consensus that the use of CIVPOL to train and recruit local police (to abide by international human rights standards) is a high priority in peace operations. Unfortunately, CIVPOL faces many of the same problems that the military division of peace operations faces.

Peace operations have largely been a reaction to an international conflict, rather than a preemptive measure to restrain violent conflict. The only U.N. peace operation not to be "reactive" was in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (1995-1999). The United Nations Preventive Deployment Force (UNPREDEP) was a unique operation that monitored border areas for any activity that could undermine confidence and stability. UNPREDEP activities included reporting illegal arms flows, preventing violent clashes, assisted in humanitarian distribution, and provided community services. Because the former Yugoslavia is known for its ethnic tensions and violent outbreaks UNPREDEP took decisive measures to prevent the spread of the violence. Unfortunately, the mission's length-extension was rejected by China's veto and the UNPREDEP force had to withdraw. Not long after, massive waves of violence ensued in Macedonia.

The need for serious change is obvious when examining past peacekeeping operations. Current resources will be used inefficiently if there is not adequate reform. Failure in addressing the current problems of peace operations will only result in death and human suffering. The urgency of the need for change is compounded in the light of recent events in Afghanistan and in other conflict ridden areas of the world. Clearly, post-conflict zones that are left unattended can pose serious risks to the national security of nations halfway around the world, as among other things they become breeding grounds for criminal activity and terrorism. These problems cannot be disregarded. The implementation of the recommendations of the Brahimi Report are incredibly important in making U.N. peace operations capable of ensuring peace and security in every corner of the world.

FROM: http://www.endgenocide.org/ceg-rrf/problems.htm

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