United Nations Peacekeeping in the Third World

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CHAPTER 1

INTRODUCTION

BACKGROUND

1. The forerunner of the United Nations (UN) was the League of Nations, an organization conceived in similar circumstances during World War 1, and established in 1919 under the treaty of Versailles “ to promote international cooperation and to achieve peace and security”. The League of Nations seized its activities after failing to prevent the Second World War. The advance of science and economic activity also brought in their wake, increased military capability which was put to devastating use by World War 1. As a result of the havoc wrecked by that conflagration, nations began to think of ensuring international peace and security through international cooperation. Thus the League of Nations was established under the treaty of Versailles, as an organization through which through which world peace could be ensured through collective security, by means of organization, discussion and agreement. Unfortunately, that body partly as a result of its own inadequacies, collapsed in the sequence of events leading to the Second World War. 1 By the time the Second World War broke out in 1939, the league had passed on in the annals of history.2

2.In April 1945 at the end of the second World War, representatives from 50 countries met in San Francisco to create the Charter of the organization that would be called The United Nations. The new body, the UN, which learning from the weaknesses and failures of the LN, was better structured and strengthened for the task of maintaining international peace and security. The UN’s primary objective was focused on saving succeeding generations from the scourge of war. Hence the aims of the UN at its inception were stated in Article 1 of its Charter as: To maintain international peace and security and to that end to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of peace, and to bring by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of peace.3

3.Since its establishment in 1945, as an organisation dedicated to preventing the scourge of war, the UN’s role in conflict management and more broadly, in international security, has evolved in ways unforeseen by its founders.4 Therefore, in the 1990s, the evolution took the form of an enormous expansion in the number and size of the UN operational roles in conflict management especially in Peace Support Operations (PSOs).5 Conflict were observed to be interstate, intrastate and / or transnational in nature and usually involved the cross-border movement of refugees, internally displaced persons, migrants and widespread human rights abuses.6 Such conflicts were fought by sub-state actors or warlords, militias, criminal elements and armed civilians and not always between regular armies. As such, social cohesion and state institutions collapsed, law and order broke down, banditry and chaos prevailed and the civilian population fled the conflict region or the country.

4.Efforts by the international community to respond to such crisis and to restore and create a self-sustaining peace are meant to address both the crisis and conflict-related disaster. A crisis response or PSO will therefore generally include political, diplomatic, military, and humanitarian efforts to control any conflict and to promote reconciliation, the re-establishment of effective government and a self-sustaining peace.7 Unfortunately, the manner with which Western Nations responded within the framework of the UN mandate to security threats from the civil wars and other internal disturbances that are now the dominant sources of conflict around the world, especially in African countries has been suspect.8

5. Critics of peacekeeping operations have likened them to a new form of neo-colonialism. The...
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