UN Humanitarian Intervention in Somalia Term Paper

  • Length: 12 pages
  • Sources: 10
  • Subject: Literature - African
  • Type: Term Paper
  • Paper: #45486523

Excerpt from Term Paper :

(Somalia - UNOSCOM 1. Background) However, a major limitation of the initiative was that the UN force was limited to self-defense, which resulted in it being infective and virtually ignored by the various warlords in the regions.

The United States also attempted to intervene and manage the conflict. To this end the U.S. organized a military coalition with the purpose of, "...creating a secure environment in southern Somalia for the conduct of humanitarian operations" (Somalia). This coalition was known as the Unified Task Force or UNITAF and began functioning in the country in 1992 under the name Operation Restore Hope. The central aim was to restore order and reduce the impact of famine in the country. This initiative was replaced in 1993 by the United Nations Operation in Somalia II (UNOSOM II).

Neither of these efforts was to achieve any lasting success towards conflict resolution or management. The reason often given for this is related to the perceptions and influence of the warlords and clans. For instance, from the perspective of a warlord like General Mohamed Farrah Aidid, UNOSOM II was seen a threat to his power. Consequently, UN troops were attacked in 1993. The fighting increased in intensity leaving more than eighteen American troops and one thousand Somalis dead. The UN withdrew Operation United Shield in "http: 1995, having suffered significant casualties, and with the rule of government still not restored. (Boulden, 2001)

Many other conflicts and tribal rivalries took place and in 2006 there was a declaration of regional autonomy by the state of Jubaland. (Ghebremeskel) These events were to lead to civil war and the rise of the Islamic Courts Union. The entrance of Ethiopia into the situation in has exacerbated the conflict. In 2007, the fighting continued in Mogadishu between the transitional government and Ethiopian official troops on one hand, and Islamic militants, on the other. (Reconciliation is as elusive as ever)

Conflict management attempts.

As Adane Ghebremeskel states in a paper entitled, Regional Approach to Conflict Management Revisited: The Somali Experience, conflict management in Africa necessitates, "... comprehending the overall debate" and in developing a conflict strategy for Somalia that would have to consider "...the political context in which the African mechanisms of conflict management have to act." (Ghebremeskel)

Ghebremeskel also make the following important assessment.

A an extensive examination of the subject is necessary in order to make a general conclusion in respect to the applicability of a regional approach to conflict management. Such an endeavor would not only need to trace the origin of the debate, but also to question the motives and the purposes served thereby. (Ghebremeskel)

This is an aspect that will be emphasized in the rest of this paper with regard to the aims and intentions of the conflict managements processes in the past that have been attempted by the United Nations and the United States. As suggested in the introduction, one point-of-view is that there has not been sufficient attention given in conflict management strategies to the internal dimensions and the numerous interweaving external causative factors that have prompted the conflict.

One of the first initiatives to deal with this conflict was the Horn of Africa Committee. This was an Ethio-Eritrean initiative intended to create a conference in which all parties in the conflict could participate. A reason give for the failure of this initiative is that it was not fully supported by the international community. (Sahnoun 9-10) Critics also point out that the failure of conflict management in this instance was the result of a failure to understand the depth of political and cultural involvement of the different parties, as well as the regional and sub-regional influences.

Despite setbacks, a Horn of Africa Standing Committee was established in 1992. This led to an agreement for the various Somali factions to have access to the "...unhampered distribution of humanitarian assistance and the opening of all ports, airports, and roads" (Ghebremeskel). However, " the effort of the Horn Committee was shattered by parallel initiatives of the UN and the U.S. To establish cease-fire and "appropriate" conditions for the arrival of the United Task Forces (UNITAF)" (Ghebremeskel). This again points to the complex role that external agencies and countries have played in often retarding rather than furthering the peace process.

UN Sponsored meeting in Addis Ababa was to follow in 1993 chaired by UN-Secretary General Boutros-Ghali. This led to the Addis Ababa National Reconciliation Conference. The conference issued the Addis Ababa Agreement signed by fifteen Somali faction leaders. The United Nations Operation in Somalia or UNOSOM extended from 1993 to 1994. The intervention was mainly aimed at the reduction of famine in the country and was U.S. led, with more than thirty-thousand troops involved. The operation became the province of the United Nations in the middle of 1993 and the United Nation expanded on the parameters of the project, becoming more focused on national reconciliation as a method of managing the conflict. Other aspect that were undertaken by the U.N. was the rebuilding the central government, and reviving the economy. (Conflict in Somalia: Drivers and Dynamics)

This operation had a certain amount of success in reducing the armed conflict in the country. This operation also provided a space for the various factions and clans to negotiate towards a transition government. However, the interests of the warlords and clan leaders were threatened by this initiative. As a result of this perception, in June of 1993 General Aidid, who represented the Haber Gedir/Hawiye clan, killed twenty-four UN peacekeepers. This was to initiate four months of the United Nations. (Conflict in Somalia: Drivers and Dynamics)

These events were also to result in the infamous "Black Hawk Down" incident and the failure of the U.S. And U.N. initiative. The operation left Somalia in 1995.

The situation in the country went for bad to worse after these events, with numerous reconciliation conferences, which brought few positive results. However, commentators also maintain that UNOSOM's civil and political work helped to "...empower a small but growing civil society in Somalia, which has since been an important force for peace-building in the country" (Conflict in Somalia: Drivers and Dynamics). In spite of these efforts by both the United Nations and the United States since the mid-1990s, Somalia wqas without a functional central government. (Conflict in Somalia: Drivers and Dynamics) more recent attempt to manage the conflict in the country was initiated in 2002 and was undertaken by the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), under the auspices of the European Union, with the Kenyan government hosting the process. The talks were aimed at the cessation of hostilities and to work towards reconciliation. However, many obstacles and delays were encountered. These included disputes about the composition and the size of representation at the talks. A central obstacle was "...disputes over allocation of seats by subclans, control of the nomination process, and selection of individual members of parliament -- leading to delays in the inauguration of a 275-member parliament for the Transitional Federal Government

TFG) " (Conflict in Somalia: Drivers and Dynamics).

In 2007, reports stated that there is growing pressure on the United Nations to,"...bolster a beleaguered African peacekeeping force in Somalia, as fresh evidence of human rights abuses and an impending humanitarian catastrophe emerge." (Crilly) Furthermore, there is a concern that the country has reached a breaking point and that "..."international action is now crucial" (Crilly).

There is also the danger that the United Nations backed ttransitional Government could fragment along clan lines. (Shabazz)

4. Summation and Assessments

One of the problems that have dogged the establishment of effective conflict management in the country is the external political situation in the region. Since its independence, many countries in the region see Somali as a security threat to the region. This perception has been complicated and exacerbated by the involvement of superpowers such as the U.S. And Soviet Union. (Habte) the involvement of the superpowers has had both advantages and disadvantages that are related to the policies and intentions of these countries. As noted, the collapsed or failed state that resulted in Somalia was partially the result of the withdrawal of interest and support by the U.S. And Russia after the end of the Cold War. This however was to lead to the U.S. And United Nations supported UNOSOM and "Operation Restore Hope." The failure of these operations led to a reevaluation of the interventionist policies and resulted in Western disengagement (Ghebremeskel).

There was a subsequent distancing from the problems of Somalia and the region. This attitude was expressed by the National Security Adviser Anthony Lake as follows. "Those of us who recognize the importance of continued active engagement and support for Africa are confronting the reality of shrinking resources and an honest skepticism about the return on our investments in peacekeeping and development"(Smock and Crocker 2).

The policy of disengagement plays an important role in the evaluation of conflict management efforts…

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