Peacebuilding, Peacekeeping Assessing UN missions in the World

Subject: Political
Type: Profile Essay
Pages: 11
Word count: 2971
Topics: Political Science, Military Science

Theoretical Definition of the Concept

Peacebuilding and peacekeeping by the United Nations refers to the instruments developed as a technique of enabling the achievement of long lasting peace in countries torn by wars and conflicts. The UN peacekeepers contribute towards monitoring and observation of peace processes in areas affected by conflicts and contributes towards the signing of peace agreements (Howard 15). Such supports come in the forms of initiatives aimed at achieving lasting peace such as: power-sharing agreements, support to the electoral system, intensifying the rule of law, and promoting social development. The United Nations Security Council is empowered by the United Nations Charter to undertake a collective action aimed at maintaining international peace and security. Consequently, the Security Council is responsible for authorizing the peacekeeping efforts according to Chapter VI agreements. UN peacekeeping volunteers are required to be at least 25 years of age. The total size of the peacekeeping force in 2013 is estimated to be 98,200 composed of the police, military personnel, and troops (Jacobson 25). The number of peacekeeping troops contributed by the European nations is approximately 6,000. The largest contributors are India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh which contribute 8,000 units of troops each. The total contribution of African nations is 44,000, almost half of the UN peacekeeping force. The Security Council is responsible for authorization of any peacekeeping mission. When a negotiation for a peace treaty has been carried out, the parties involved seek the involvement of the UN peacekeeping force in overseeing the implementation of the plan. The involvement of the UN peacekeepers is more likely to result into impartiality in the implementation of the agreements of the parties. If a mission has been approved by the Security Council, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations plans the necessary elements (Sandler 46). The UN does not have a standing force and depends on ad hoc coalitions with the states seeking peace or resolution of a conflict. The UN peacekeeping operations are financed by the collective responsibilities of its member states. Every member state has a legal obligation to contribute to the peacekeeping initiatives. The UN Peacekeeping Operations has three power centers: the Special Representative of the Secretary General, the Force Commander, and the Chief Administrative Officer. 

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The Context of the Application of the Concept

The Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) has the responsibility of planning, managing, deployment, and reinforcing peacekeeping initiatives in cooperation with the Department of Field Support (DFS) that focuses on promoting peace and stability in areas affected by conflicts. The operations of the DPKO started in 1948 and previously applied traditional peacekeeping activities such as ceasefires with little involvement in the use of firearms, promoting self-defense, or participating in the political affairs of the countries affected by civil wars or terrorism (Bove, Vincenzo, and Andrea 27). The DPKO facilitates stabilization, disarmament, preventing the occurrence of armed conflicts, and restoration of opponents. Peacekeeping has been applied through the deployment of military forces to countries affected by violence in order to restore the rule of law and provide reinforcement to the activities of the police force. While counterterrorism is not a major function of the DPKO, its peacekeeping activities are important in creating solutions to resolve terrorism. Peacekeeping operations contribute significantly towards the achievement of security and building of state capacities to counter terrorism. The activities of DPKO in counter-terrorism efforts can be categorized into four major areas: improving the stability of states within its territories, promoting the rule of law, increasing the capacity of the host-state to promote peace and stability, and to prevent organized crimes and terrorist attempts (Gaibulloev et al. 57). Due to the current association between transnational crimes such as drug trafficking, and attempts by terrorist groups to create capacities that participate in organized crimes, the role of the DPKO in preventing organized crimes and illegal transportation of humans contributes significantly to the political and economic stability of affected countries. 

Actors of the topic

  • Department of Field Support

The Department of Field Support (DFS) is responsible for managing personnel, logistical procedures, and other support initiatives for the UN peacekeeping operations in various parts of the world. It is involved in the provision of human resources training and certification of HR personnel. The strength of DFS is that it benefits from significant financial and specialized supports services which enable the achievement of efficiency in the achievement of security initiatives in countries affected by conflicts or unrests (Ward and Han 58). Its weakness is that there are no standard frameworks of training for the human resource practitioners in UN peacekeeping efforts, resulting into deficiencies in the achievement of leadership and strategic management objectives.  Its opportunity is the emergence of modern information technology and the increased use of the internet which will enable an effective management of HR issues (Kathman and Molly 64). The threat is that there are no specific form of training that can be used to achieve the security objectives in a situation where different strategies need to be used

  • United Nations Security Council 

The UN Security Council is an organ of the United Nations whose responsibility is to maintain peace and security, promote friendliness in the relations with other nations, and contribute to the resolution of international problems. Its strength is that it is composed of an effective decision making structure that promotes the resolution of crises in different parts of the world such as in new states (Hultman, Jacob Kathman, and Megan 876). The weakness of the Security Council is that there is lack of a democratic technique of achieving accountability that has an impact on its structure. Due to the fact that the power structures of the Security Council have changed in the previous decades, its composition appears to be more anachronistic. The Opportunity of the UN Security Council is the likelihood of developing a successful universal international organization that enables discussion of important issues and achieving equitable distribution of resources for the purpose of achieving sustainable development. The threat of the Security Council is that lack of cooperation from non-members of this organ is more likely to contribute to its ineffectiveness in addressing global security concerns in the future. 

  • Counterterrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF)

The Counterterrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF) is responsible for enhancing coordination of efforts to eradicate terrorism. It is composed of 38 international entities which have common interest in prevention of terrorism. The strength of CTITF is that it is composed of a number of states that have the ability to contribute to the human resource requirements that enables addressing of terrorism challenges (Ruggeri, Theodora-Ismene Gizelis, and Han 388). The weakness of the CTITF is the difficulty to bring stakeholders who are non-members to discuss and strategize on the mechanisms of addressing terrorism. The opportunity for CTITF is the emergence of modern forms of information and communication that can be harnessed to promote the efforts towards prevention of terrorism. The threat to CTITF is that some countries have been uncooperative and opposite in cooperation towards protection of human rights in order to achieve compliance with international standards of responding to the needs of victims of terrorism. 

Problems Encountered by the UN Peacekeeping forces

  • Operations in Areas where Peace Agreements have not been Signed

The UN peacekeeping forces encounter the challenge of operating in areas where there is reconciliation among the sections of conflicting parties. Most peacekeeping missions are performed without previously signed peace deal between the conflicting parties (Howard 14). This has been driven by the need of the Security Council not to take a neutral position during killings of civilians in case of conflicts such as in Darfur. In certain situations, the UN Security Council has used peacekeeping forces as means of creating a foundation for restoration of peace in case of an ongoing conflict such as in Mali and Central African Republic (Jacobson 16). In South Sudan, such techniques have resulted into the re-emergence of conflicts into the operations of UN missions, and as a result, the forces have focused on the protection of civilians while understanding the importance of promoting the implementation of political solution. 

  • Lack of Strong Partnerships 

The UN peacekeeping forces require strong partnerships with the local forces in order to address issues such as organized crimes or prevent terrorist acts. In Northern regions in Mali, the UN peacekeeping forces encounter challenges such as kidnapping of civilians, banditry, and lack of support from the local armed forces (Sandler 18). In relation to capabilities, there is the need to intensify the UN peacekeeping forces’ capabilities in operating efficiently and safely in these situations. There is the need for a specialized expertise in preventing the execution of organized criminal activities. Strong partnership does not exist that enables cooperation with the police in preventing the use of narcotics and other drugs that promote conflicts promote the creation of networks among criminals (Bove and Andrea 682). The involvement of transitional actors is also associated with a number of challenges. They are not stakeholders in the countries where they contribute to peacebuilding and cannot participate in political processes. There is also a likelihood that the Security Council may be less leveraged in depending on them when compared with the armed groups that are supported by external governments. 

  • Failures similar to that of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL)

The UN peacekeeping forces encounter similar challenges to those of the United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL). Since its formation in 1978, UNIFIL has failed in a number of instances despite its role in restoration of a stable government in Southern Lebanon. The failures have been attributed to lack of internal organization in preventing Lebanon from opposing the role of the US in promoting the restoration of peace in the border between Egypt and Israel (Gaibulloev 728). The operation procedure of UNIFIL involved the implementation of traditional peacekeeping procedures such as dealing with the local entities and terrorists in an impartial manner and restraining from the use of force in promoting peace. Despite having 6,000 soldiers, UNIFIL lacked the relevant strength and manpower for securing its operations in entirety, resulting into a number of gaps in its roles which were subjugated by terrorists and other groups that contributed to the disturbance of peace. 

  • Lack of Us of Force in most Instances 

In most cases, the UN peacekeeping forces have not been effective because they do not use forearms to restore peace in areas affected by violence. This is a common observation in the case of Israeli-Lebanon Murders where Hezbollah terrorists disguised themselves as members of UNIFIL and ambushed the jeep carrying the peacekeeping soldiers. Since the UN peacekeeping forces are not permitted to use force, they simply stood and did nothing (Ward, Hugh, and Han 393). There was also lack of cooperation from the UN at the highest level in relation to the incident. Similar incident occurred in Rwanda during the 1994 genocide which culminated in one million people dead. An inquiry was conducted in 1999 resulting into the finding that the UN ignored to mitigate the genocide despite having the knowledge that it would occur. The peacekeepers also left a police post where Tutsis were massacred. 

  • Crimes by Peacekeepers 

It has been observed that the credibility of the UN peacekeeping missions have been subject to criticism following many incidences of human rights abuses. Many reports of prostitution occurred in Cambodia and Mozambique after the movement of the UN peacekeeping force (Kathman and Molly 151). A documentation by the Former First lady, Graca Machel provided evidence of 6 out of 12 incidences of sexual exploitation of children by the UN peacekeeping forces during incidences of armed conflicts. The arrival or UN peacekeeping troops in Cambodia and Mozambique have been associated with an increase in incidences of child prostitution.  There have been efforts to set up humanitarian intervention efforts to reduce sexual abuse of children by the UN peacekeeping forces. There have been concerns regarding human rights abused during the UN peacekeeping missions such as murder, theft, or extortion of property in countries such as Sierra Leone and Eritrean-Ethiopian Civil War. 

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Recommended Solutions to the Problems 

  • Internal Coordination 

It is recommended that internal coordination should be intensified in order to achieve success in the peacekeeping operations. In spite of the relevance of external support in promoting the achievement of the peacebuilding initiatives, internal coordination is important in ensuring the peacebuilding forces are organized and strategic in their attempt to provide solutions for the resolution of conflicts and prevention of massacre of civilians (Hultman, Jacob Kathman, and Megan 879). Internal coordination should integrate the involvement of various organs of the United Nations (UN) such as: the International Monetary Fund (IMF), United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), and the World Bank. Internal coordination is regarded as an antidote for success. If such coordination is not achieved, peacemakers are likely to fail and they may be trapped between the parties involved in a conflict. 

  • Brahimi Analysis as a Solution to Crimes Caused by the Peacekeepers

In order to respond to the crimes committed by the peacekeeping forces, the UN has formulated the Brahimi Analysis. The first recommendation of this report is that former peacekeeping missions should be recapped and flaws should be isolated, while steps need to be taken to prevent these mistakes and improve effectiveness and discipline during the future peacekeeping missions (Ruggeri, Theodora-Ismene Gizelis, and Han 388). These recommendations have been planned for implementation by the UN during its future operations.  The DPKO has been effective in the implementation of policies that promote responsibilities in the roles of peacekeeping forces. It has been suggested that the number of personnel involved in the peacekeeping initiatives should be increased and conditions of services need to be harmonized in the fields in which the staffs operate. Guidelines need to be developed regarding the standards of practice by the UN peacekeeping forces, while partnership needs to be improved with the DPKO and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). 

  • Rapid Reaction Force

In order to avoid similar mistakes committed by the peacekeeping forces in Rwanda and Sierra Leone, it has been suggested that rapid reaction force should be instituted. This is the process where the forces involved in peacekeeping respond in a timely manner towards restoration of peace and prevention of the killings of people during civil wars (Howard 5). The UN should provide troops at the right time to support peace operations in areas where genocides are likely to occur. Such a force could be beneficial in resolving deteriorating situations. It could also prevent the involvement of former colonial powers from initiating actions, and prevent the involvement of mercenary elements from involvement in private activities that are of benefit to them (Jacobson 9). Rapid response force would be achievable when there is a large apparatus backup such as availability of equipment to be used by the forces, accommodation facilities, training, and the devolution of the organization’s activities. A force should be created within the UN peacekeeping force that is able to undertake peacekeeping initiatives such as combat and easily deployable by the Security Council. Training could be provided for the Rapid Response force in peacekeeping exercises. Such a force could promote the resolution of an emergency situation as well as preventing a threatening situation from developing into a crisis. 

  • Increased Security in Dangerous Environments

A major solution that can be used to promote the effectiveness of the UN peacekeeping forces is to promote their safety in operation in dangerous environments. A significant number of UN peacekeeping personnel such as civilians, military officers, and police operate in areas affected by violence such as Darfur in South Sudan, Central African Republic, Eastern areas of Democratic Republic of Congo need to be provided with additional security such as patrol aircrafts and security intelligence agents (Sandler 26). This will result into a great impact on the ability of the peacekeeping forces in commencing missions and operating effectively and safely upon deployment. Furthermore, capabilities should be modernized in promoting the achievement of mandated tasks in the process of safeguarding the needs of personnel. There is the need for involvement of the US secretariat and member states with capabilities to contribute to the peace initiatives while promoting the safety of the peacekeeping forces. 

  • Striking a balance between Conflicting Parties Before Peacekeeping Deployment

It is recommended that a roadmap should be created which seeks the consent of impartiality of the peacekeeping mission between two conflicting groups. The UN peacekeeping forces should also emphasize the importance of striking peace among the warring parties (Bove, and Andrea 688). A measure of inclusiveness during decision making should be taken even in the initial days after an end to a conflict by establishing the effectiveness of the existing political structure and promote confidence among conflicting groups that they will have collective voices regarding the manner in which they are governed. The required plans of peacekeeping should be deployed when there are political openings among the opposing sides.   

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The efforts of the UN peacekeeping forces to restoration of peace in areas affected by conflicts are a major function of the UN Security Council. Many countries have benefited from the restoration of peace during terrorist attacks or civil wars. In spite of the successes of the UN peacekeeping forces in promoting peace, it has not been effective in terms of responding in a timely manner in case of occurrence of a terrorist incident or civil war, little internal coordination has been achieved, and the peacekeeping forces have not used armed combat in prevention of conflicts. Some of the suggested solutions are to promote rapid response initiatives, increase the striking of peace deal before deployment of the peacekeeping forces, and promoting the security of the peacekeeping forces in areas affected by conflicts. When these challenges are implemented, there is a greater likelihood that the UN peacekeeping missions will achieve peace outcomes in areas where they will be deployed. 

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  1. Bove, Vincenzo, and Andrea Ruggeri. “Kinds of blue: diversity in UN peacekeeping missions and civilian protection.” British Journal of Political Science 46.3 (2016): 681-700. 
  2. Gaibulloev, Khusrav, et al. “Personnel contributions to UN and non-UN peacekeeping missions: A public goods approach.” Journal of Peace Research 52.6 (2015): 727-742. 
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  8. Sandler, Todd. “International Peacekeeping Operations: Burden Sharing and Effectiveness.” Journal of Conflict Resolution (2017): 0022002717708601. 
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  10. Van der Lijn, Jair. “If only there were a blueprint! Factors for Success and Failure of UN Peace- Building Operations.” Journal of International Peacekeeping 13.1 (2009): 45-71.  
  11. Ward, Hugh, and Han Dorussen. “Standing alongside your friends: Network centrality and providing troops to UN peacekeeping operations.” Journal of Peace Research 53.3 (2016): 392-408. 
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