Is UN Peacekeeping Seriously Flawed?
“The United Nations exists not merely to preserve the peace but also to make change-even radical change-possible without violent upheaval. The United Nations has no vested interest in the status quo. It seeks a more secure world, a better world, a world of progress for all peoples.”
Summary of the issue:
The United Nations was established in 1945 as a result of World War II. To avoid a repeat of the loss and misfortune, a majority of the victorious and neutral countries agreed to a UN Charter that provided a variety of steps to help maintain and restore peace. One of the steps was a pledge by all member countries not to resort in an independent manner, by means of one party, to war or other international violence with the exception of self defense. In other cases, where violence involved, the issue is supposed to be brought before the Security Council for a decision and how to respond to the situation.
One way to involve military force is for the Security Council to allow member countries to take military action against attacker. This has happened twice: the United Nations endorsed in Korea (1950-1953) and in the Persian Gulf (1990-1991). In 2003, the United States tried to convince the Security Council that the situation in Iraq called for a third time for them to allow member countries to take military action against the country of Iraq, but failed.
Peacekeeping is the other option available to the Security Council. Peacekeeping uses a military force under UN command that is made up of units contributed by member countries. UN forces are rather small and lightly armed. The object of the idea of peacekeeping is neither to defeat one side or the other, but to put a stop to hostility.
The United Nations has over 9 million soldiers, police officers, and defenseless to carry out 61 peacekeeping or truce observation missions from 1945-2007. To a certain extent, the complexity of the missions has grown as the Security Council has increasingly sent peacekeepers into insecure situations, for example, the Balkans, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Darfur in western Sudan, where the mission has had to try to create peace or to protect one or more groups.
Those who are in favor of peacekeeping, focus on two problems. First of all, countries commonly do not meet their financial responsibility to support UN forces, thus limiting what they can do. In 2007, the United Nation’s members were $3.2 billion behind on their peacekeeping expenses. The United States owed a third of that total cost. Second of all, it’s hard to get the Security Council members to agree to approve a UN mission. When the UN sent forces to the Balkans in 1992, the Security-general asked for 35,000 peacekeepers. The Security Council allowed only 7,000 troops of the 35,000 requested, with limitations and restrictions. The restrictions prevented the peacekeepers from being effective and even reached the point where the UN troops were captured, held hostage, and publicly humiliated.
Those who are not in favor of peacekeeping focus on a third problem: the internal problems and scandals that have darkened the United Nation’s peacekeeping efforts. Brett D. Schaefer responds to these problems by influencing the United States government to be cautious of funding UN peacekeeping missions. William J. Durch argues that needed reforms are being instituted and that the United States should give sturdy financial and military support for UN peace operations. Yes, UN peacekeeping is flawed:
Brett D. Schaefer is the Jay Kingham Fellow in International Regulatory Affairs at the Heritage Foundation. He feels that the amplified number and size of recent UN deployments have besieged the capabilities of UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations, leading to problems that make support of UN peacekeeping debatable.
One of the United Nation’s main responsibilities is to help maintain international peace and...
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