UN Peacekeeping Limitations After Five Thesis

Excerpt from Thesis :

Thus, "by late 1992, the catastrophic situation in Somalia had outstripped the UN's ability to quickly restore peace and stability, mainly because the UN was hamstrung by insufficient forces and UN peacekeeping principles and methods could not cope with the need to use force in such complex situations. On 3 December 1992, UN Security Council Resolution 794 authorised a coalition of UN members led by the U.S. To form UNITAF and intervene to protect the delivery of humanitarian assistance and restore peace." (ANZAC, 1)

Here is an interesting orientation which begins to the more clearly illustrated one of the core conflicts here discussed. In our research, we come repeatedly across evidence that the United Nations has essentially failed to ever achieve a real autonomy from the interests of its most powerful member states. Most specifically in this instance, as in a great many others which have persisted throughout the history of the United Nations, we can see that such nations as the United States have a greater influence on proceedings than many of their counterparts. Though in the instance of Somalia it soon becomes apparent that the resources and flexibility uniquely availed to the powerful U.S. would be necessary in the face of U.N. shortcomings, future instances such as Iraq will demonstrate that where the will of such a nation is contrary to that of the U.N., the former will prevail over the latter.

This discussion will return to this idea hereafter. In the instance of Somalia, the limitations to peacekeeping would ultimately be redressed through the individual commission of specific national forces. And to the point, the outcome in this instance must surely be seen as a positive indicator of that which peacekeeping missions can hope to provide in the long run. Indeed, though Somalia was, 15 years ago, ensconced in disarray and violence, "Somalia today is a very different place... The chaos that followed the massive UNBOSOM intervention has been replace by security and stability in the north of the country and glimmers of hope for peace in the central and southern areas." (ANZAC, 1) Indeed, in the case of Somalia, all indications are that the ultimate outcome of the U.N. presence would be to save lives as intended. An argument, nonetheless, can still be made that a greater flexibility and autonomy from the outset would have allowed it to save yet more lives by the prevention or curtailing of initial violence.

Still, as Durch ably points out, and Somalia begins to illustrate, "part of the UN's problem is its basic lack of autonomy and its habituation to rhetoric, a learned response from its first forty years of political stalemate (first East-West, and then North-South). The Organization has rarely seemed more than the sum of its arguing parts." (Durch, 3) This core problem has rendered it in many instances incapable of acting before significant damage has already been perpetrated.

Another example where this argument can be made would be in the splintered former Yugoslavia. Here, the regions of Kosovo and Serbia were engaged in an ongoing conflict in which ethnic cleansing and the violent dictatorship of Slobedan Milosevic had produced despair and widespread death in the former Soviet state. Once again, this was an example of a power vacuum which had allowed for the warring factions of the nation to slide into irreconcilable aggression. In this instance, the peacekeeping force would not only come too late to restrain internal destruction but would also be too late to prevent intervention in the form of a heavily criticized NATO bombing campaign. (Wikipedia, 1) Here, the violence had begotten further violence with the U.N. incapable of stepping in before the smoke had cleared. The reactionary inflexibility may also be the reason why Yugoslavia continues to experience tension, with 16,000 U.N. forces still there a decade after the initial mission in order to maintain stability. (Wikipedia, 1) There is, however, a positive example in the instance of the Kosovo War in the form of the trial of Milosevic. Here, peacekeeping forces demonstrated their capacity for intervention to the extent of removing problematic or criminal leadership. This concerns the use, once again, of implied powers. And indeed, Milosevic was the precedent setting defendant in a war crime s tribunal.

Thus, the role of implied powers for the U.N., in general terms, has been to enable the organization to grow in strength as it matures. Its world security responsibilities detail that the U.N. is authorized to bring about peaceful resolution of conflicts, to create and utilize peace-keeping forces where needed and to enforce decisions made against conflictive states. In order to achieve these goals, the often beleaguered organization has been forced to extend its authority in ways that Charter composers could not have foreseen. This accounts for the forethought which requires the expansiveness of implied powers.

This has proved a double-edged sword in a way though, with the undefined nature of the international governing body's powers leaving it vulnerable to subversion and ineffectiveness. The shortcomings of the organization itself are often made most visible in the space between an implied power and the achievement of the U.N.'s fundamental goals. In cases both where implied powers have been neglected and where they have been exploited, it is apparent that such play a defining role in the way the United Nations functions in the service of its principles.

By considering the role of the U.N.'s implied powers in such conflicts, there is demonstrable evidence that such are vastly important in ensuring the needed pragmatism and flexibility of an organization designed to represent so many different cultures and interests. Conversely though, the 'implied' status of many key responsibilities such as the applicable enforcement of Security Council Resolutions and the capacity of its military-branch to contend with variant global conflicts has blunted the authority of the United Nations, which in conflicts both long and short-term has often proved itself too bureaucratic and culturally relativist to serve its defined function. Two useful examples to this end, made so by their respective illustration of implied power neglect and exploitation, suggest that the United Nations is a necessary organization but a flawed one, incapable of preventing the 1994 genocide in Rwanda and thoroughly undermined by the American invasion of Iraq in 2003. In each case, the role of the United Nations' implied powers is open to exploration, with the situations polarized to opposite ends of a spectrum which renders the U.N. impotently stranded in the middle. And indeed, this is the condition which Durch laments throughout his text. From a philosophical perspective, he denotes that "peacekeeping supplements the self-help system of international politics with an element of disinterested outside assistance that can help the parties to a conflict disengage themselves from it. Peacekeeping missions may involve, in ascending order of complexity and intrusiveness: uncovering the facts of a conflict; monitoring of border or buffer zones after armistice agreements have been signed; verification of agreed-upon force disengagements or withdrawals; supervision of the disarming and demobilization of local forces; maintenance of security conditions essential to the conduct of elections; and even the temporary, transitional administration of countries." (Durch, 3) in this array or responsibilities, it is argued that the U.N. should be a powerfully situated organization. However, all evidence suggests that where the will of its largest individual members is either lacking or overwhelming, these functions are fully diminished in their relevance.

There is a firm basis for the United Nations to empower its own forces for the purpose of enforcing its provisions. Its Charter was designed to make the organization a consequential rather than strictly theoretical advocate of peace, and although "the Charter does not expressly provide powers to the Council for peace-keeping forces, the International Court of Justice in a 1962 case found that the Council has an implied power for this purpose." (Sarooshi, 1) This is an implied power, though, which over a period of decades has earned a misconception of roles. Identifying itself as a peace-keeping organization, the U.N.'s armed enforcement agency is often perceived as a military force. Though equipped with weaponry, peace-keeping forces are only modestly armed and thus not truly endowed for large-scale hostile confrontation. For this reason, these forces are typically only deployed to a conflict site when a ceasefire agreement has been established. Thus, such forces are intended to work in direct supplement of the diplomacy modes used to establish compromise between conflictive parties.

In some ways though, this renders such 'implied powers' as subject to hazy and consequently problematic considerations. Not truly prepared to partake in warfare and yet serving as the only militarily-oriented extension of the central body for provision, enforcement and sustenance of world peace, U.N. peacekeeping troops have often proved incapable of either truly intervening in the course of urgent conflict or preventing the onset of imminent violence. At its worst, this unrefined formulation of its…

Cite This Thesis:

"UN Peacekeeping Limitations After Five" (2009, January 06) Retrieved January 18, 2018, from

"UN Peacekeeping Limitations After Five" 06 January 2009. Web.18 January. 2018. <

"UN Peacekeeping Limitations After Five", 06 January 2009, Accessed.18 January. 2018,