The year 1998 marks half a century of United Nations peacekeeping. Peacekeeping was pioneered and developed by the UN as one of the means for maintaining international peace and security. Most UN peacekeepers, often referred to as "blue helmets", have been soldiers, volunteered by their Governments to apply military discipline and training to the task of restoring and maintaining the peace. In recognition of their contribution, UN peacekeepers were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1988.
Governments have increasingly turned to the UN to deal with ethnic and nationalist conflicts that have flared up in many regions since the end of the cold war. While 13 operations were established in the first 40 years of United Nations peacekeeping, 36 new operations have been launched since 1988. At its peak in 1993, the total deployment of United Nations military and civilian personnel reached more than 80,000 from 77 countries. Complex missions which involve simultaneous political, military and humanitarian activities have built upon experience gained in "traditional" UN peacekeeping, which typically involves primarily military tasks—such as monitoring ceasefires, separating hostile forces and maintaining buffer zones.
Civilian police officers, electoral observers, human rights monitors and other civilians have joined military UN peacekeepers. Their tasks range from protecting and delivering humanitarian assistance, to helping former opponents carry out complicated peace agreements. UN peacekeepers have been called upon to help disarm and demobilize former fighters, to train and monitor civilian police, and to organize and observe elections. Working with UN agencies and other humanitarian organizations, peacekeepers have helped refugees return home, monitored respect for human rights, cleared landmines and begun reconstruction.
Peacekeeping operations are normally set up by the Security Council, the UN organ with primary responsibility for maintaining international peace and security. The Council decides the operation's size, its overall objectives and its time-frame. As the UN has no military or civilian police force of its own, Member States decide whether to participate in a mission and, if so, what personnel and equipment they are willing to offer.
For a peacekeeping operation to succeed, it needs a clear and practicable mandate, effective command at Headquarters and in the field, the sustained political and financial support of Member States, and—perhaps most important—the cooperation of the conflicting parties. The mission must have the consent of the Government in the country where it is deployed—and usually of the other parties involved—and must not be used in any way to favour one party against another. Peacekeepers' strongest "weapon" is their impartiality and their legitimacy, drawn from the fact that they represent the international community as a whole.
Troops serving in UN peacekeeping operations carry light weapons and are allowed to use minimum force in self-defence, or if armed persons try to stop them from carrying out their authorized tasks. Observers and civilian police are usually unarmed.
UN peacekeepers cannot impose peace where there is no peace to keep. However, where the parties to a conflict are committed to solving their differences peacefully, a UN peacekeeping operation can be a catalyst for peace and help create a "breathing space": a more stable and secure environment in which lasting political solutions can be found and implemented.
UN peacekeeping should not be confused with other forms of multinational military intervention, including "enforcement" actions. On several occasions, the Security Council has authorized Member States to use "all necessary means"—including force—to deal with armed conflict or threats to peace. Acting with such authorization, Member States formed military coalitions in the Korean conflict in 1950 and, in the 1990s, in response to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. Multinational operations were deployed in addition to United Nations operations in Somalia, Rwanda, Haiti and Bosnia and Herzegovina. In 1997, the Council authorized action by a "coalition of the willing" to deal with the situation in Albania. It also authorized deployment of a multinational peacekeeping force in the Central African Republic, which in March 1998 was replaced by the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic (MINURCA).The recent-most mandate UN peacekeeping operation was the United Nations Observer Mission in Sierra Leone (UNOMSIL), which was authorized by the Council in Juy 1998.
Since 1948, there have been 49 United Nations peacekeeping operations. 36 peacekeeping operations were created by the Security Council in the years between 1988 and 1998. There are currently 17 under way involving 14,453 peacekeepers at the end of August 1998. Over 750,000 military and civilian police personnel and thousands of other civilians have served in UN peacekeeping operations; 1,581 have died while serving in these missions up to the 31 August 1998.
The 15 Member States of the Security Council — not the Secretary-General of the United Nations — create and define peacekeeping missions. The United Nations Charter specifies that the Council has primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. Each of the five permanent Council members — China, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States — can veto any decision on peacekeeping operations.
Military and civilian police personnel in peacekeeping operations remain members of their own national establishments, but serve under the operational control of the United Nations, and are expected to conduct themselves in accordance with the exclusively international character of their mission. They wear their national uniforms, but also wear blue berets or helmets and the UN insignia to identify themselves as United Nations peacekeepers. Civilian personnel are loaned from the United Nations Secretariat, from United Nations agencies or from Governments, or work on a contractual basis.
The United Nations estimated peacekeeping budget for July 1997 - June 1998 is approximately $1 billion. This has declined from about $3 billion in 1995, which reflected the expense of UN peacekeeping in the former Yugoslavia. All Member States contribute to peacekeeping costs under a formula that they have designed and agreed upon. As of February 1998, however, Member States owed the UN about $1.6 billion in current and back peacekeeping dues.
Peacekeeping soldiers are paid by their own Governments according to their own national rank and salary scale. Countries volunteering personnel to peacekeeping operations are reimbursed by the UN at a flat rate of about $1,000 per soldier per month. The UN also reimburses countries for equipment. But reimbursements to these countries are often deferred because of cash shortages caused by Member States' failure to pay their dues.
All Member States share the responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. Since 1948, more than 110 nations have contributed personnel at various times. In August 1998, 77 Member States were contributing military and civilian police personnel to ongoing missions. Civilian personnel have come from virtually all nations.
Armed conflicts continue to flare up, generated by a variety of causes: inadequate political structures within countries collapse, or fail to provide for the orderly transfer of power; dissatisfied populations identify with ever-smaller groups, often based on ethnicity, which may or may not respect national boundaries; competition for scarce resources intensifies as anger and frustration grow among people trapped in poverty. These elements provide fertile soil for violence within or between States. The violence is fed by massive numbers of virtually all kinds of weapons, readily available worldwide. The results are human suffering-—often on a massive scale, threats to wider international peace and security, and the destruction of the economic and social life of entire populations.
Many of today's conflicts may seem remote to those not immediately in the line of fire. But the world's nations must weigh the risks of action against the proven dangers of inaction. Failure by the international community to try to control conflicts and to resolve them peacefully may result in wider conflicts, inolving more actors. Recent history has shown how quickly civil wars between parties in one country can destabilize neighbouring countries and spread throughout entire regions. Few modern conflicts can be considered truly "local". They often generate a host of problems—such as illegal traffic in arms, terrorism, drug trafficking, refugee flows, and damage to the environment—whose repercussions are felt far from the immediate conflict zone. International cooperation is needed to deal with these and other global problems. UN peacekeeping, built on a half-century of experience in the field, is an indispensable tool. Its legitimacy and universality are unique, derived from its character as an action taken on behalf of a global organization with 185 Memebr States. UN peacekeeping operations can open doors which might otherwise remain closed to efforts in peacemaking and peacebuilding, to secure lasting peace.
can limit the implications for national sovereignty which other forms of foreign intervention may bring
can serve as a rallying point for international efforts, demonstrating to the parties that the international community speaks with one voice in favour of peace, and can limit the proliferation of alliances and cross-alliances that can aggravate conflicts;
offers many countries a means for sharing the burden of action to control and resolve conflicts, resulting in greater efficiency in human, financial and political terms.
Truce Supervision, Ceasefire Monitoring, Military Observation
UNTSO; UNMOGIP; UNFICYP; UNDOF; UNIFIL; UNIKOM; MINURSO; UNOMIG; UNMOT; UNPREDEP; UNMOP; MONUA; UNAVEM I, UNAVEM II; UNAVEM III; UNEF I, UNEF II; UNOGIL; ONUC; UNSF; UNYOM; DOMREP; UNIPOM; UNGOMAP; UNIIMOG; UNTAG; ONUSAL; UNAMIC; UNPROFOR; UNTAC; UNOSOM I, UNOSOM II; ONUMOZ; UNOMUR; UNAMIR; UNOMIL; UNASOG; UNCRO; UNTAES; MINUGUA; UNASOG; MINURCA; UNOMSIL
Peacekeeping intended to assist in maintenance of a ceasefire: tasks can include separation of combatants, verification of compliance with the terms of the ceasefire, creation of buffer zones, monitoring troop withdrawal, etc.
Demobilization and Reintegration
UNMOT; MONUA; MINURSO; UNTAG; ONUCA; ONUSAL; UNTAC; ONUMOZ; UNOMIL; UNAVEM II; UNAVEM III;
Normally associated with complex operations to implement detailed peace agreements—most often in civil war situations. Usually involves overseeing the assembly and demobilization of former combatants, and providing help in the form of small amounts of cash, simple tools, or household or farming supplies for former fighters to return to normal life
UNMOT; MONUA; MINURCA; ONUCA; ONUSAL; UNTAC; ONUMOZ; UNOSOM II; UNOMIL; UNAVEM III; UNTAES; MINUGUA;
Often—but not always—carried out in conjunction with demobilization and reintegration functions. Involves the actual collection or monitoring of collection, storage and/or destruction of weapons, large and small
UNFICYP; UNIFIL; UNMIBH; MONUA; ONUC; UNTAG; ONUSAL; UNPROFOR; UNTAC; UNOSOM I; UNOSOM II; ONUMOZ; UNOMIL; UNAMIR; UNAVEM III; UNCRO; UNTAES;
Some peacekeeping operations have been given the specific task of protecting the delivery of humanitarian assistance (like the bulk delivery of food, medicines and other services to large populations) by UN agencies and other organizations, as in Somalia, former Yugoslavia; others (like UNIFIL in southern Lebanon) have provided limited humanitarian assistance (help in medical emergencies, dealing with injury and damage caused by fighting and/or natural disasters), to people in the area they cover, although this was not specifically part of their mandate
MINURSO; UNMOT; UNMIBH; MINURCA; UNTAG; UNAVEM II; ONUSAL; UNTAC; ONUMOZ; UNOMIL; UNMIH; UNTAES;
In terms of peacekeeping missions, this has most often meant providing advice on electoral laws, organizing or supervising elections, observing electoral campaigns, balloting, tallying results, and even drafting electoral laws
UNOMIG; UNMIBH; MINUGUA; MONUA; MIPONUH; MINURCA; UNTAG; ONUSAL; UNPROFOR; UNTAC; ONUMOZ; UNOSOM II; UNOMIL; UNSMIH; UNAMIR; UNAVEM III; UNCRO; UNTAES; UNTMIH; UNMIH;
communicating with local people about how they are being treated by government officials, police, or others in positions of power or authority; looking into and reporting on allegations of violations of basic human rights or reports of violence based on ethnicity, race, religion, politics or gender. In some operations, human rights functions also include "institution building"—particularly improvements in policing and the administration of justice
UNFICYP; MINURSO; UNPREDEP; UNMIBH; MONUA; MIPONUH; Civilian Police Support Group; MINURCA; UNTAG; UNAVEM II, UNAVEM III; ONUSAL; UNPROFOR; UNTAC; ONUMOZ; UNOSOM II; UNSMIH; UNAMIR; UNCRO; UNTAES; UNTMIH; UNMIH; MINUGUA;
Monitoring and reporting on action by local police in order to encourage respect for norms of human rights; building confidence between adversarial groups and/or between police and communities; providing technical advice and training to new or revitalized police services.
MINURSO; UNOMIG; UNMIBH; MONUA; UNTAG; ONUSAL; UNAMIC; UNTAC; UNPROFOR; ONUMOZ; UNOSOM II; UNAMIR; UNAVEM III; UNCRO; UNTAES;
Includes removal of mines; mine surveys and mapping, and establishment of databases; organization and conduct of mine awareness campaigns; training of local mine clearance teams; establishment of national mine clearance schools and administrations
Cooperation with Regional Organizations
Co-deployment: UNOMIG; UNMOT; UNMIBH; UNOSOM II; UNOMIL; UNMIH;
The UN increasingly works with other international organizations in conflict areas, to coordinate political efforts to advance peace. Among those organizations with which it has cooperated are the Organization of American States (OAS); the Organization of African Unity (OAU); the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE); the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS); the Commonwealth of Independent States(CIS); and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
At times, such cooperation can include co-deployment of a UN peacekeeping operation beside a multinational force. Examples are United Nations peacekeeping co-deployments alongside of the Unified Task Force (UNITAF) in Somalia; Implementation Force (IFOR) and Stabilization Force (SFOR) in Bosnia and Herzegovina; Multinational Force in Haiti; CIS Collective Peacekeeping Forces in Tajikistan; CIS Peacekeeping Force in Georgia
The above text below is also contained on the Wallchart Poster:
"United Nations Peacekeeping - 50 Years" (DPI/1987),
which may be obtained free of cost from the:
UN Charter (sales item)
Blue Helmets, Third Edition 1996
(English [808pp.]; French: Les Casques Bleus
[806pp.], Sales No. E.96.I.14);
United Nations Blue Books
(series of publications which covers major developments in which the United Nations has played a leading role in maintaining international peace and security; sales items)
Soldiers for Peace [264pp.]
A collection of articles on peacekeeping published in 1996 by American Historical Publications in collaboration with DPI.
Limited free copies available, also available for purchase from:
Facts on File, 11 Penn Plaza, New York, NY 10001
UN PEACEKEEPING LINKS
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