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Old 08-20-2012   #1
McArthur
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Default Essay - UN Unable to Address Modern Conflicts

All,

I have got to the point (Second year, actually) where I am seeking some outside feedback with some of my University work. I've just finished putting together a draft of a short essay (I didn't realize it was short till I was WELL over the actual word limit ) which is about the ability of the United Nations to address modern conflicts.

A lot of it has been steered by me to touch on the stuff we have been covering in lectures (Ie, New Wars Theory, types/uses of power, IR theories, etc etc).

I am going to continue to work on this draft, but I'd like to get this one out there in the hope that some of the more knowledgeable people here can provide some feedback/thoughts on what I've done.

I apologize for grammatical/spelling errors. As I said, nothing has been "tidied up" until I'm set with the direction of my content.

Regards,

Mac
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Old 08-20-2012   #2
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The United Nations has had a troubled life so far. The international organisation of states was founded in 1945 as a method of facilitating cooperation between states and the advancement of international security and peace. Sixty years on the UN does not appear any closer to this goal than it did at its conception, and the United Nations has continued to become increasingly incapable of addressing modern conflicts. The post-Cold War time period has been notably difficult for the UN, with its reputation being tarnished by a number of failed peacekeeping missions. There are several reasons for this, including the UN’s inability to act as a military force; it’s bloated bureaucracy and the realist theories surrounding the relationship between states and NGOs.

When the United Nations was founded in 1945 following the end of World War II, it was expected to herald in a new age of peace in a world which had been rocked by two devastating international conflicts. The next forty years saw an international system that was dominated by the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. One of the biggest issues faced by the United Nations now, however, is that the nature of conflicts has changed drastically since the Cold War days. These so called “New Wars” are low-intensity conflicts that involve a vast range of transnational connections, non-governmental actors and new strategies of warfare (Mary Kaldor). The United Nations, founded in the age of state vs. state conventional warfare, is now faced with conflicts it was never designed to handle.

New Wars no longer revolve around the struggle to control territory, resources and the expansion of a state’s ideology, but the struggle to control the identity of the state and its people (Mary Kaldor). The United Nations is still positioned best for “Old Wars”, and struggles to solve conflicts that have their causes rooted in deeper grievances or issues than a simple land grab. One of the most critical issues in UN peacekeeping is that there are often no long-term solutions in place by the time the peacekeeping force arrives. The UN peacekeeping solutions are often “short-term Band-Aids on deep wounds that have been festering for generations” (Armstrong). By the time a peacekeeping force has had boots on the ground long enough to truly understand the issues involved, they are almost at the end of their operational deployment. This means that there is a failure for the UN peacekeeping forces on the ground to truly understand any of the issues at stake at any level.

It took the United Nations over thirty years of effort to even define what interstate aggression was, and even then the United Nations was sporadic at best when it came to condemning cases of aggression between states. It became accepted that the United Nations was least effective in disputes when the two belligerents were non-aligned states, where there was a high international acceptance of these conflicts to continue without external interference. Conversely, the United Nations is generally the most effective in cases where the belligerent were a Western state (The big exception being the United States) initiated a dispute with a non-aligned state. It would appear that the UN is highly selective of which cases it takes responsibility for. Some conflicts attract large amounts of attention while others are overlooked for various reasons, usually political.

In a world dominated by “New Wars”, there is another issue the United Nations faces in addressing these conflicts. This issue is the lack of hard military power within the UN. The UN lacks the offensive power and ability of most single sovereign states, and is therefore unsuited to providing a military solution when it comes to humanitarian solution. In New Wars, which are often inter-state and ignorant of typical political boundaries and considerations in fighting conflicts, the large and slow-moving bureaucracy of the United Nations can seriously struggle to keep up with a rapidly evolving conflict. Unlike what it had faced for most of its life, the UN now faced conflicts where there were “No fronts, no campaigns, no bases, no uniforms, no publically displayed honors, no points d’appui (starting point), and no respect for the territorial limits of the state” (Van Creveld, 1991).

During the Sierra Leone Civil War, failure on the UN’s part to act resulted in the Sierra Leonean government hiring a Private Military Company called Executive Outcomes to contain and prevent the human rights atrocities being committed by the RUF during the war. Despite it’s huge successes, Executive Outcomes was forced out of the country due to political pressure from the United Nations (A. J. Venter, War Dogs, Chapter 22: Sierra Leones Diamond War). It is worth noting that the largely successful Executive Outcomes was costing Sierra Leone (And by proxy, the International Monetary Fund) $1.8 million a month. By comparison, the failed UN Peacekeeping mission cost $51 million a month. When EO left the country, it left the largely untrained, unprepared and unwilling United Nations contingent in sole charge of the conflict. What followed was a brutal rout in which the RUF seized control of the country, humiliating the international community and the United Nations. It was not until the return of the private soldiers and the British military that the UN mission was fulfilled.

It has been noted that “Peacekeepers are traditionally too lightly armed to outfight the combined forces of every regional warring faction in the mission area. Consequently, they exercise no real coercive or punitive power” (Armstrong). This lack of capable organic military forces within the United Nations means that the UN must rely on limited sources and applications of power to achieve its aims. In order to influence Medium, Great and even Global Powers, the UN needs to hold considerable power in many different areas. With no compulsory military power, the UN struggles to force medium or great powers to act. It must rely on it’s powers or persuasion and diplomacy, or potentially it will need another Great or Global power to act on it’s behalf in order for threats or the use of force to be effective. The “Blue Helmet” of UN troops around the world is more known for it’s symbolic and diplomatic power, rather than their military prowess.

CONTINUED
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Old 08-20-2012   #3
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Simply put, the United Nations is incapable of undertaking military action under it’s own banner as long as the contributing states can only provide poorly trained, equipped soldiers who have little understanding or direction in the conflict they are ordered to contain (A. J. Venter, War Dogs, Chapter 6: The United Nations Debacle in West Africa). Whereas past conflicts involved clear distinctions between combatants and noncombatants, the United Nations was now facing situations where there was no distinction at all, and warzones were rife with criminals, paramilitaries, terrorists and mercenaries. For an organisation consisting of states that have a history of only dealing with state vs. state issues, it is difficult to now be dealing with a number of non-state actors. Furthermore, UN forces have a history of being hamstrung by vague mission mandates and diplomatic pressures. During the 1994 UNAMIR mission in Rwanda, an understrength contingent of UN peacekeepers was unable to intervene during the genocide because of its limited jurisdiction and mandate to act. It took the UN Security Council six weeks to adopt a resolution which provided aid to the UNAMIR force, but by that stage it was too late, and a failure of the United Nations to act quickly resulted in the mass murder of up to 800,000 Rwandan people. The UN is better suited to act as a forum for international diplomacy and cooperation between states rather than as an international interventionist military force.

It is difficult to clearly state why many states are pessimistic when it comes to dealing with the United Nations. Realists would argue that because the international system exists in a state of anarchy, then NGOs such as the UN are not to be trusted or relied upon. This would explain a lack of active involvement or trust in the United Nations, which in turn explains why the United Nations is incapable of addressing modern conflicts. Liberals would argue that the UN is in fact a competent organisation, but only with the contribution of all states, and that the only reason the UN is prone to failure is because states have not invested enough trust or resources into the United Nations for it to work properly. This is a “chicken or the egg” causality dilemma. Attempts by states to bolster or champion the United Nations as a “solution” have been troubled since the fall of the Cold War. As the United States proclaimed itself the victor, it asserted the idea that this was the UN’s opportunity to take on it’s role as the “guardian of international peace and security” with it’s plans for “An Agenda for Peace” without the traditional Soviet influence hampering efforts. To quote Chesterman, “the rhetoric was euphoric, utopian, and short”. The following two decades saw a notable increase in the number of UN peacekeeping expenses – the result was a massive financial and human expense, with very few positive results to show for it.

The prevalence of realism and the growing mistrust in the United Nations was not helped by the obvious drawbacks in having an international collection of states needing to reach a consensus on interests before action could be taken. With the founding of the UN, there was an immediate rush by all states to push for their nationals to be awarded senior positions within the bureaucracy. It would be naïve to assume that there was ever a point in which the personnel under the UN were not subject to political factors – the Soviet Union continually accused the first Secretary General of pro-Western bias. This proved a problem in situations where the United Nations required consensus from a large proportion of its members for action to take place. It means the interests of other states can hamstring legitimate and well-intentioned actions – effectively bringing the UN down to the lowest common denominator. It has been noted that as the UN has grown so large now that achieving consensus with a number of small developing countries is particularly difficult.

Since the end of the Cold War the United Nations has struggled to maintain it’s position as an eminent actor in the international system, mostly because of the relationship between realist states and the public attention which has been drawn towards the operational failures of the UN when it comes to addressing modern conflicts.
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Old 08-20-2012   #4
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It seems a very broad topic for such a short essay. I'd suggest focusing on a single example and trying to identify the factors that prevented the UN from acting effectively. Even that would be a lot to accommodate, but it would be easier to develop a coherent argument with a tighter focus.
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Old 08-20-2012   #5
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On balance it is better to have the UN than not. It's efforts at peacekeeping have not all been bad, although from the essay you'd guess it was bad, bad.

How about including references to the successes: Namibia, Mozambique, Cambodia, Cyprus and on Israel's borders?

The UN is generally only successful in conflicts when there is a local and international agreement. The UN's mistake IMO was to try peace enforcement when only international agreement was in place, the DRC is a great example.

You will have noted the changing composition of UN military forces too, many of the "regulars" are no longer there: Canada, Scandinavia, and even India appears to be asking itself why. The USA rarely has been a participant.
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Old 08-20-2012   #6
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In addition to the points raised by Dayuhan about the scope of the essay and by davidbfpo in general I wanted to throw in some personal views:

1) I'm in general quite sceptic about the use of a too sharp schema of "new" and "old" wars. In fact I do believe that those conflicts described as "new" types have even older roots and have ever been part of the history of humankind. Only in some parts of the world they have been overshadowed in relative recent times by the those described here as "old" wars.

2) The UN has for obvious political and to a lesser degree legal reasons an easier time to efficiently act when there is a relative strong consensus about the problem and the mandatem, when there are distinct persons and institutions with which an effective interaction is possible. This hardly goes only for the UN or other international organisations but is in general even true in the private sector.

3) In short having the UN is, as written before, on balance then not having it. It even can be far better under some circumstances, especially when it has a narrow mission. As the US and it's Western allies have experienced even a vast amount of ressources and direct control over efficient national means can result in little progress when the local institutions are largely ineffective and the situations chaotic.

P.S: I do not understand the distinction between "Liberals" and "Realists". Thanks.
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Old 08-21-2012   #7
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Okay, after further discussing this with the tutor, the decision has been made to focus on one particular point. This gives me the space I need to give a proper argument and a counterpoint (Ie, UN successes)

Firn, I'm not a fan of the New vs Old war distinction either. "New" Wars have been happening since Alexander The Great, so I'm still of the opinion that it's a bit of a misnomer, but I still maintain that the UN is only suited for a particular kind of conflict. I wouldn't say we'd be better off without it, but it's not the one-fix-shop people think it is and I think it's telling that the UN has made huge expenses for little gain in most conflicts.

The Liberal vs Realist thing is the opposing International Relations theories of Liberalism and Realism. Obviously they're not the only schools of though, and they each have general subsets, but the academics (At least, here in our department) tend to focus a lot of those two opposing schools of thought.

Like the New vs Old War theory, I think it's ridiculous to break down international politics to a number of distinctly different "Theories" in an effort to explain or simplify things. When tutors or students try and get me to take a side with a particular theory I usually respond with "Yes", because I genuinely don't believe any one theory covers it all.

- Mac
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Old 08-21-2012   #8
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I think the failure of the UN is rooted in something more fundamental than than nations failing to achieve consensus on military aims and resources.

The UN was founded, and continues to operate, on the basis of the noble fantasy that there exists a "community of nations."

Such has never existed and likely won't for the foreseeable future.
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Old 08-21-2012   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J Wolfsberger View Post
I think the failure of the UN is rooted in something more fundamental than than nations failing to achieve consensus on military aims and resources.

The UN was founded, and continues to operate, on the basis of the noble fantasy that there exists a "community of nations."

Such has never existed and likely won't for the foreseeable future.
This is a key part in the essay, but I've just realised that I'm not doing a very good job of explaining it, let alone in laymans terms.

That shall be fixed.

Cheers,

Mac

Realism: International Relations

Quote:
Common assumptions

Realism is a tradition of international theory centered upon four propositions.

1. Anarchy:
- There is no actor above states capable of regulating their interactions; states must arrive at relations with other states on their own, rather than it being dictated to them by some higher controlling entity.
- The international system exists in a state of constant antagonism.

2. Egoism:
- Individuals and groups tend to pursue self-interest.
- Groups strive to attain as many resources as possible.

3. Groupism:
Politics takes place within and between groups.

4. Power politics:
- Relations between groups are determined by their levels of power derived primarily from their material (military and economic) capabilities.
- The overriding national interest of each state is its survival, and there is a general distrust of long-term cooperation or alliance.
- International politics are always power politics
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Old 08-21-2012   #10
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The essential problem is sovereignty. Democratic nations don't want to give up sovereignty to an unelected and unaccountable foreign institution. For non-democratic nations the loss of sovereignty would threaten their hold on power. The UN thus becomes a political tool to wield in the service of the national interest.
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Old 08-21-2012   #11
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Originally Posted by Entropy View Post
The essential problem is sovereignty. Democratic nations don't want to give up sovereignty to an unelected and unaccountable foreign institution.
True, but they have no problem attempting to impose their concept of "popular sovereignty" on other states under the guise of Universal Human Rights.

Quote:
For non-democratic nations the loss of sovereignty would threaten their hold on power.
I am not sure that is accurate. What some would view as non-democratic leaders get elected all the time. But I do believe that is how "non-democratic" states see it. The main threat coming from the "popular sovereignty" contingent who would limit any regime's ability to impose its will on its population in ways democratic leaders might not be openly willing to agree with.

Quote:
The UN thus becomes a political tool to wield in the service of the national interest.
Unfortunate reality.

I still have to agree with others here that we are better off with it than without it. That does not mean that it could not stand a little tweaking.
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Old 08-21-2012   #12
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Originally Posted by TheCurmudgeon View Post
True, but they have no problem attempting to impose their concept of "popular sovereignty" on other states under the guise of Universal Human Rights.
For me that would fall under using the UN as a tool for the national interest.

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I am not sure that is accurate. What some would view as non-democratic leaders get elected all the time. But I do believe that is how "non-democratic" states see it. The main threat coming from the "popular sovereignty" contingent who would limit any regime's ability to impose its will on its population in ways democratic leaders might not be openly willing to agree with.
I used those terms pretty loosely. By democratic I mean governments where the people actually have a stake in the government and in government policy.


Quote:
I still have to agree with others here that we are better off with it than without it. That does not mean that it could not stand a little tweaking.
I don't want to get rid of the UN either, I just think we need to be cognizant of its limits.
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Old 08-21-2012   #13
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Default Entropy...and Mac...

i have been having trouble lately with the "democracy/non-democracy" distinction. Liberal/non-liberal seems to be my current preference, but it is a work in progress.

Mac,

I will add one bit of advise. Consider you audience. Are you writing this for a grade or because you believe in what you are saying. If you are writing for a grade then agree with whatever position that the professor espouses. Your grade will be better. If you are writing from the heart, then damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead ... (those Navy guys have all the good sayings ... except for Patton).

Good Luck
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Old 08-22-2012   #14
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After several years, more than a decade in fact, working with the UN, sometimes for the UN, I came to the conclusion that UN will never have military capacity for the following reasons:
- contributing states want to make money and loose 0 combattants,
- nobody is accountable to anyone for doing or ot his job,
- Troops contributing countries do not have modern armies. And when they have one, they keep it home because they busy fighting a modern conflict (like Pakistan and India for exemple)

It is not a question of understanding or not the local context, the regional context, the political context or even the international context. It is not because they have no intel, no contacts with parties of the conflict, no military capacity (well sometimes it's the problem too)... In few words, it is not because the machine design on paper is not capable.

UN are able to address modern conflict... On paper.
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Old 08-22-2012   #15
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This could quite possibly be the last copy. Too much going on with other assignments and projects, not to mention I kick off on a big field exercise in two days.

M-A Lagrange, after reading the previous posts and deciding to narrow my subject a bit more, I came to similar conclusions as yourself. The one part you hit on which I completely missed was a potential lack of accountability within the UN system. Very good point.

TheCurmudgeon, as somebody who is likely to make a career out of both soldiering and as a student of security studies, it would not be right for me to simply be regurgitating whatever my professor has fed me. While I do need the grades, my own credibility and honor takes priority over that. I have never been one to align myself with my professors for the sake of earning some easy credits. Last year I was asked to write an essay on whether or not war was less likely as a result of increasing economic interdependence, and I was to argue for either a Realist perspective (Increased trade increases chances of war) or the Liberal perspective (Increased trade decreases chances of war). Out of several hundred essays, mine was the only one which directly challenged the professor and said "No. Neither theory is correct, and I abhor the idea that you can simplify war down to that level" and I went on to argue that neither theory was right or wrong. I guess I'm not an easy student.

Some of the others who bought up points might notice the influence they had on this essay. I sorely wanted to include Entropy's point about sovereignty, and if the word limit was increased that would probably be a point (or paragraph) I would be discussing.

Would like to say thanks to all who provided feedback and debate. It is appreciated very much. Hopefully one day I can provide back to the community with some work of my own.

Regards,

Mac

Last edited by McArthur; 08-22-2012 at 02:04 PM.
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Old 08-22-2012   #16
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Here it is.

Quote:
UNITED NATIONS AND MODERN CONFLICTS

The United Nations has had a troubled life so far. The international organisation of states was founded in 1945 as a method of facilitating cooperation between states and the advancement of international security and peace. Sixty years on the UN does not appear any closer to this goal than it did at its conception, and the UN has continued to become increasingly incapable of addressing modern conflicts. The post-Cold War time period has been notably difficult for the UN. With the demise of the Soviet Union, it was asserted that this was the UN’s opportunity to take on it’s role as the “guardian of international peace and security” now that the Soviet Union was no longer hampering efforts. The rhetoric was described as being “euphoric, utopian and short” . The following two decades saw a notable increase in the number of UN peacekeeping missions – with a massive financial and human expense and very few positive results to show for it.

One of the issues faced by the United Nations now, however, is that the nature of conflicts has changed drastically since the Cold War days. First termed by Mary Kaldor, The New Wars Theory suggests that there is a quantifiable difference in warfare before and after the end of the Cold War. Whereas “Old Wars” revolve around the struggle to control territory, resources and the expansion of a state’s ideology, “New Wars” focus on the struggle to control the identity of the state and its people New Wars are low-intensity conflicts that involve a vast range of transnational connections, non-governmental actors and new strategies of warfare.

The UN has only recently been able to put itself in a position where it is capable of handling Old Wars. It has taken the UN over thirty years of effort to even define what interstate aggression really is, and even now the UN is sporadic at best when it comes to condemning cases of aggression between states . The UN is acknowledged as being least effective in disputes when the two belligerents are non-aligned states, where there is a high international acceptance of these conflicts to continue without external interference. Conversely, the United Nations is generally the most effective in cases where the belligerent is a Western state (The big exception being the United States) initiating a dispute with a non-aligned state . If the UN is still struggling to piece together how to best deal with State vs. State aggression, it is difficult to believe it will be capable of keeping up with the rapidly changing dynamics of modern warfare. The UN, founded in the age of state vs. state conventional warfare, is now faced with conflicts it was never designed to handle where there are “No fronts, no campaigns, no bases, no uniforms, no publically displayed honors, no points d’appui (starting point), and no respect for the territorial limits of the state” .

This means there is a critical issue within the United Nations Peacekeeping program, where there are often no long-term solutions in place by the time the peacekeeping force arrives. The UN peacekeeping solutions are often “short-term Band-Aids on deep wounds that have been festering for generations” . By the time a peacekeeping force has had boots on the ground long enough to truly understand the issues involved, they are almost at the end of their operational deployment . This means that there is a failure for the UN peacekeeping forces on the ground to truly understand any of the issues at stake at any level, and they will struggle to help solve conflicts that have their causes rooted in deeper grievances or issues than a simple land grab.

Compounding the inability of the United Nations to administratively and conceptually deal with New Wars, the UN lacks any sort of hard military power necessary for peacekeeping operations. Many states simply refuse to contribute military power to the UN missions out of a general distrust to the UN and NGO’s in general. It has been noted that UN peacekeepers “are traditionally too lightly armed to outfight the combined forces of every regional warring faction in the mission area. Consequently, they exercise no real coercive or punitive power” . The top contributors to UN Peacekeeping missions are in fact Bangladesh (10,736 personnel), Pakistan (10,691), India (8,935), Nigeria (5,709) and Egypt (5,458) . This is an interesting situation, because the top military contributors to the UN are states that are very rarely known for their military prowess. It has been suggested that most major contributing states are not doing so for the sake of the UN mission, but are doing so for the financial reasons and for the diplomatic benefits of earning prestige within the UN system . The UN pays out a set amount of money to contributing nations for each soldier contributed, which poses two challenges. Firstly, a number of poorer states may deploy personnel to UN Peacekeeping operations as a method of turning a profit, as the UN pays states $1,028USD per soldier . The second suggestion is that with such a meager compensation from the UN, more wealthy countries will be unwilling to contribute professional soldiers to peacekeeping operations.

The United Nations has also been heavily criticized for it’s bureaucratic inefficiencies. Roméo Dallaire was the Commander of the ill-fated UNAMIR mission to Rwanda in 1994, where an understrength contingent of UN peacekeepers was unable to intervene during the Rwandan Genocide because of its limited jurisdiction and mandate to act. It took the UN Security Council six weeks to adopt a resolution which provided aid to the UNAMIR force, but by that stage it was too late, and a failure of the UN to act quickly resulted in the mass murder of up to 800,000 Rwandan people. Dallaire has been particularly outspoken in his criticism for the UN, which he describes as being completely different to any he had ever encountered in the military before:

"He told me the UN was a 'pull' system, not a 'push' system like I had been used to with NATO, because the UN had absolutely no pool of resources to draw on. You had to make a request for everything you needed, and then you had to wait while that request was analyzed...For instance, soldiers everywhere have to eat and drink. In a push system, food and water for the number of soldiers deployed is automatically supplied. In a pull system, you have to ask for those rations, and no common sense seems to ever apply."

During the Sierra Leone Civil War, failure on the United Nations’ part to act resulted in the Sierra Leonean government hiring a Private Military Company called Executive Outcomes to contain and prevent the human rights atrocities being committed by the RUF during the war . Despite it’s huge successes, Executive Outcomes was forced out of the country due to political pressure from the UN. It is worth noting that the largely successful Executive Outcomes was costing Sierra Leone (And by proxy, the International Monetary Fund) $1.8 million a month. By comparison, the failed UNAMSIL Peacekeeping mission cost $51 million a month . When EO left the country, it left the largely untrained, unprepared and unwilling UNAMSIL contingent in sole charge of the conflict. What followed was a brutal rout in which the RUF seized control of the country, humiliating the international community and the UN. It was not until the return of the private soldiers and the British military that the UN mission was fulfilled.

Simply put, the United Nations is incapable of undertaking military action under it’s own banner as long as the contributing states can only provide poorly trained, equipped soldiers who have little understanding or direction in the conflict they are ordered to contain. UN operations have a history of being hamstrung by bureaucratic inefficiencies and an inept military force. While past conflict involved clear distinctions between combatants and noncombatants, the UN is now facing situations where there are no distinctions at all, and warzones are rife with criminals, paramilitaries, terrorists and mercenaries. The UN has not proven to be able to rapidly evolve to meet the changing dynamic of warfare, and as a result it is an outdated state-centric organisation is a very different environment. The UN is better suited to act as a forum for international diplomacy and cooperation between states rather than as an international interventionist military force.
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Old 08-22-2012   #17
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Default You need to reflect a lot more!

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Compounding the inability of the United Nations to administratively and conceptually deal with New Wars, the UN lacks any sort of hard military power necessary for peacekeeping operations. Many states simply refuse to contribute military power to the UN missions out of a general distrust to the UN and NGO’s in general. It has been noted that UN peacekeepers “are traditionally too lightly armed to outfight the combined forces of every regional warring faction in the mission area. Consequently, they exercise no real coercive or punitive power” . The top contributors to UN Peacekeeping missions are in fact Bangladesh (10,736 personnel), Pakistan (10,691), India (8,935), Nigeria (5,709) and Egypt (5,458) . This is an interesting situation, because the top military contributors to the UN are states that are very rarely known for their military prowess.....
Your judgement is very harsh. The UN peacekeeping missions are that peacekeeping and 'hard military power' is not a requirement. If the mission is peace enforcement then the military needs are different, which can explain why some missions fail when the mission changes and rightly you cite Rwanda as an example.

In some places peacekeeping missions have been had 'hard military' components alongside the traditional blue berets, the UN mission in Eastern Slavonia was one. There the Jordanians provided a mechanised infantry battalion; less certainly in Cambodia IIRC India provided a QRF.

Other missions, notably Southern Lebanon began as a traditional blue beret ceasefire monitoring body, as the conflict developed - with every faction and Israel involved - the UN became harder by appearance, with marginal impact on its mission. Remember the Fijian compound shelled by the IDF?

The nations you cite Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, Nigeria and Egypt are contributors who volunteer, unlike many nations that are:
Quote:
known for their military prowess'
In what I have read both Pakistan and India are very capable, respected armies, who have for over forty years paid a price for their commitment. Nigeria has a different reputation, mainly due to its non-UN peacekeeping and peace enforcement in West Africa. Nor should the Egyptian infantry battalion in Sarajevo be overlooked, IIRC the only Arab or Muslim country to contribute in the early years of the Bosnian War (alongside the French & Canadians).

As for:
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The second suggestion is that with such a meager compensation from the UN, more wealthy countries will be unwilling to contribute professional soldiers to peacekeeping operations.
UN payments to wealthier countries is not a factor in their decision-making. Far more pertinent factors are involved, force protection, likelihood of casualties, length of engagement, command structures, the mission itself and the ROE. Look at the composition of the UN in Cyprus, there the length of the commitment has simply bored contributors; it now has a Chinese commander.

Some wealthy countries have ended up with simply bizarre UN deployments. To cite two, Argentina in Cyprus and Ireland in Chad.

My only caveat now. I have not closely watched UN missions for many years so my points do not account for places like the DRC.
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Old 08-23-2012   #18
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Default

Quote:
Compounding the inability of the United Nations to administratively and conceptually deal with New Wars, the UN lacks any sort of hard military power necessary for peacekeeping operations. Many states simply refuse to contribute military power to the UN missions out of a general distrust to the UN and NGO’s in general. It has been noted that UN peacekeepers “are traditionally too lightly armed to outfight the combined forces of every regional warring faction in the mission area. Consequently, they exercise no real coercive or punitive power” . The top contributors to UN Peacekeeping missions are in fact Bangladesh (10,736 personnel), Pakistan (10,691), India (8,935), Nigeria (5,709) and Egypt (5,458) . This is an interesting situation, because the top military contributors to the UN are states that are very rarely known for their military prowess.....
I believe that focussing on the military capacities is a bias. Not that it does not count but because it is not the real issue. Cause, as I wrotte before, it works on paper.

The problem is not really the troops’ quality. The main issue is the distance between the mandate and its application. The first problematic is the chain of command. Troop contributors’ countries do not surrender over the UN their chain of command. Therefore you have a UN chain of command with troops who obey to their national chain of command. And because it is a sovereignty issue no one is questioning the non implementation of the mandate by X, Y or Z. You just deal with it. Therefore you lose immediately nearly 90% of your combat capacities. (When they want and there is political will, Indians and Pakistanis are very effective. Bangladeshi... It's another story.)

Talking about DRC, when a 6 battalions (including armored infantry, special ops and paratroopers with air support and artillery… from India and South Africa mainly!) strong force tells you: they cannot defeat 300 armed men… Then you know it is political and not military.

I have witnessed several UN/blue helmets deployments and there is a pattern in how they become ineffective on the ground:
- 1st phase you send for 3 month (max 6 month, if it is high profile domestic issue) highly trained troops from western countries to settle the dust. (works most of the time. Or it is skipped because UN are too slow and NATO already did it)

- 2nd phase, you send troops with average/good military capacities with a clear mandate adapted to a political and military situation. (all ready you have lost most of your combat capacities and you count on deterence only. Mainly because you fright the other parties with your equipment.)

- 3rd phase you change nothing in the mandate, what ever changes happen in the political or military context. (You do not adapt therefore you are obsolete)

- 4th phase you send crappy troops because there no one to go in that mud place and you give them a weak mandate. (you're plan is to leave as soon as possible so you task your force with no mission, may be patroling with armored vehicles, to be able to report a success. Sucess = I reported I did XX patrols in a month so I completed successfully my mission. I do not even have to actually do the patrols, just to report I did it.)

I witnessed that in DRC, Chad, Sudan… In the end, it’s a circus.
I once worked with a Navy commander who was fresh from naval academy in a semi desertic area, commanding conscripts from Army with lieutenants from Air-force. How do you expect such force to do something else than show of force? (That was Sudan by the way)

A Canadian friend of mine was telling me they call the UN missions “Gucci missions”. It tells what it tells: it’s comfortable camping is a crappie place with or without guns.

And as David rightly pointed: it's peace keeping missions, not combat missions. (Even peace enforcement are not combat missions). The last time the UN fought wars, it was Korea and Shaba in Zaire. In the end they won. But it was neither peace keeping or enforcement missions, at that time the mandate was just: win the war.
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Old 11-25-2012   #19
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Default A peacekeeping body at war with itself

Came across a review of 'Interventions: A Life in War and Peace' by Kofi Annan, by a former UK envoy to the UN, Christopher Meyer and he ends with:
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This is a book which, though well-written, often with a light touch, is in its detail unlikely to have much appeal for anyone except aficionados of diplomacy and the United Nations. Its interest for others is in the bigger picture that Annan draws — of a world where, in the vortex of competing national interests, the scope for getting agreement on effective peacekeeping and humanitarian intervention is extraordinarily limited.

The UN is better than the League of Nations, but not by much. Kofi Annan is a well respected man, and deservedly so. But you have to conclude that the world being what it is, the career of a UN secretary general, like that of a British prime minister, always ends in failure.
Link:http://www.spectator.co.uk/books/868...r-with-itself/
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