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Enjoy & Learn


Peacekeeping, Peacemaking, Peace-enforcement

The international environment we live in is constantly changing: each day may bring new geopolitical entities, new leaders, new ideas. Just think about the Albanians in Kosovo who were determined to change the status of their province from a UN-managed protectorate to a sovereign state; think of the former prime minister Benazir Bhutto who returned from India to Pakistan in order to fight for democracy and found her death; think of the French President Nicholas Sarkozy who, after a prolonged crisis in relations with Germany, appears to be a promoter of political détente between the two countries. There is no such concept as ‘an everlasting status quo’ which would guarantee stability of political life. The world around us reminds us of an ecosystem, where, as in United States federal politics, the state of entropy is forced back into order by means of a system of checks and balances. But what are these ‘checks and balances’ and how does one implement them so that they allow for effective management of various political events?

The United Nations–successor of the League of Nations and mainly an Anglo-Saxon initiative– answered this question back in 1945 by signing the UN Charter, which soon became ‘a Constitution’ for the new, post-war world. The Preamble of the Charter clearly states that the main aim of the Organization is “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind.” In order to achieve this aim, the UN established appropriate tools/ mechanisms of control: peacekeeping, peacemaking and peace-enforcing operations.

Peacekeeping operations, as defined by the UN, are “a way to help countries torn by conflict create conditions for sustainable peace.” Peacekeepers (often referred to as Blue Helmets) monitor and observe the peace processes in post-conflict areas and assist ex-combatants in implementing the peace agreements they have signed. Usually, this type of operation must be first authorized by the UN Security Council. But history shows this hasn’t always been the case. For instance, in the case of Kosovo it was as late as 1999 that the Council authorized the peacekeeping operation, perhaps out of fear of American domination in the Balkans. The Americans had been helping Kosovo since the outbreak of the conflict between the Serbs and the Albanians, that is, since the early 1990s. Moreover, the UN knew that the Americans might take military action on their own, as they did in January 1991 during operation Desert Storm (after the annexation of Kuwait by Iraq).

Peacemaking, on the other hand, is defined in terms of undertaking actions which are supposed to “bring hostile parties to agreement, essentially through such peaceful means.” These means, according to the UN, are nothing else than diplomatic efforts intended to move a violent conflict into a non-violent dialogue through negotiation, mediation, conciliation, arbitration and finally, the judicature of international courts.

Recent manifestations of the peacemaking process are negotiations with Pakistan and Turkey. In the case of Pakistan, the UN appealed to General Musharaf to lift the state of emergency and assure that human rights be respected. The state of emergency was declared after the Supreme Court indicated it would overturn the results of the illegitimate election that preserved Musharraf’s rule. The General tried to prevent public protests that lawyers and political parties were organizing. Although the state of emergency was lifted, the manning of the Supreme Court was changed and it has now become an unthreatening puppet-institution of the General.

In the case of Turkey matters are more complicated. The south of Turkey borders Iraq, which has recently become a safe haven for Kurdish militants. The Kurds, nowadays a 14- million-person nation, demand the right to selfdetermination. They want all Kurds to live in the sovereign state of Kurdistan. But the expression ‘all Kurds’ seems to be quite a problem in light of the fact that a number of them live in southern Turkey. Seeking unification with their kinsmen, they attack small border towns in hopes of seizing their land. In order to stop these attacks Turkey wanted to start military intervention which would consist in bombarding northern Iraq, from where the Kurdish militants operate. Such an aggressive action, however, would be directed not so much against the Kurds as against Iraq’s sovereignty–a fact which could aggravate the situation. The UN has been involved in trying to solve the problem from the very onset of the conflict, however, whether or not its mediation is going to be effective is difficult to state.

Finally, a mid-point between the operations of peacekeeping and peacemaking is peace-enforcement. This concept was the most recent one to be developed by the UN in ‘The Agenda for Peace’ (1992). It was established in response to the failure of the UN to effectively monitor the Balkan conflict–under peacekeeping operations, the Blue Helmets were not allowed to use military force against the warring parties (they were only allowed to do so in self-defense). The UN decided to allow the peacekeepers to use armed force to separate combatants and to create a cease-fire. The irony is that in the end, the peacekeepers in the Balkans were placed in a peace-enforcement situation and were proven not to be adequately armed and manned for the task. As a result, they could not stop the Serbs from murdering thousands of Muslim soldiers in Srebrenica.

Are the operations of peacekeeping, peacemaking and peace-enforcement the only tools of assuring world peace? Surely not. NATO itself has three different types of military operations, which have often proved to be more effective than those carried out under the aegis of the UN. Yet, vehement criticism of the UN is not appropriate–after all, the Organization created an intricate web of measures which can be used to safeguard world peace–and all in all, it’s been effective. The United States, perhaps the main and most important member of NATO with strategic interests all over the world, safeguards the status quo, but not necessarily world peace. Acting, perhaps allegedly, in defense of democracy and human rights and against zealotry and terrorism, the United States has already shown (for instance, in the case of Iraq) that instead of cooling off a conflict, it can heat it up. Even though the American administration tries to act as a promoter of peace, its own interests seem at times to take precedence. The UN, on the other hand, is a universal organization with no individual, say, egotistical, goals. If so, then the UN is the first effective organization of collective security in the post-war system of powers.

Jolanta Katarzyna Wiśniewska

 

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