This essay will argue that neutrality is a non-essential moral principal in United Nations peacekeeping and can result in further tensions, violence, and conflict. It can also lead to expensive, long-winded peace missions that do not effectively resolve issues, and has the ability to tarnish the image and reputation of the UN. There is close examination of how neutrality affected peace missions in Cyprus, Israel, Congo and Yugoslavia. There is also reference to later missions in Iraq that severely tested the resolve of UN peacekeepers. The move to multidimensional peacekeeping is relevant in today’s social structure, where the UN supports impartiality over neutrality.
Neutrality in United Nations peacekeeping operations is not an essential moral principal. Neutrality can play a destructive role in times of conflict and can indirectly result in superior parties dominating without reasonable judgement. During early peacekeeping efforts, Secretary General Daj Hammarskjold (1953-1961) was a firm believer in neutrality, however this period was also tested by intense super-power conflict, and a rise in colonial independence after a ravishing cost on imperial powers during World War II. In the twenty-first century, peacekeeping has proliferated into a multidimensional effort that seeks to restore order in internal affairs, rather than acting in a passive role of monitoring and reporting and acts on principals of impartiality to restore peace and security.
United Nations peacekeeping is guided by three basic principles including, consent of the parties; impartiality; and non-use of force except in self-defence and defence of the mandate. In closer inspection of the second principle, impartiality, the UN steers clear from associations to the definition of neutrality, preferring the former as history has illustrated neutrality is an ineffective condition for peacekeeping. Those who have seen the commitment to neutrality as a weakness have claimed that it masks vacillation, the absence of intellectual or political courage, an unwillingness to make hard decisions and difficult choices, an abdication of responsibility, and an indifference to the actual fate of the individuals whom it makes a formal claim to cherish.1 One author goes even further to suggests that, their sin is so particular that they do not even merit a space in hell.2
1- Robert E. Goodin and Andrew Reeve, ‘Liberal Neutrality’, Routledge, London and N.Y., 1989 2- Hugo Slim (1997): Relief agencies and moral standing in war: Principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and solidarity, Development in Practice, 7:4, 342-352 In the presence of conflict, it is necessary to determine what side is good and evil and how best to assist those that need help the most.
In determining between what is good and evil, the UN is led to limitations of moral reasoning. Within theories of justice, an individual’s conception of the good is typically regarded as something in which that individual has an interest such that, when individuals come forward with different and competing conceptions, we confront a conflict of demands calling for a just resolution.3 Their dispute arises not from competing interests but merely from their having arrived at different judgements about the one best strategy in which they are both interested. This leads to different interpretations of mandates by conflicting parties, whereby the Secretary-General and Security Council may draw one strategy that may assist party A more so than party B therefore nulling any forms of neutrality.
A further perspective of neutrality is illustrated by the effect a third-party will have by not intervening between party A and B when for example party A is far superior to party B. In this case, non-intervention by C will lead to the defeat...