Among the greatest threats to peace are
the actions of a few people in a state, who thrive on creating conflict and
chaos. It is then that such intrastate and interstate conflicts can be focused
on to bring about peace and ultimately a successful resolution to these issues.
Due to such conflict, the need for peacekeeping is apparent. Peacekeeping can
be an effective tool when properly employed and with adequate resources and support.
The United Nations (UN) is an
organization of sovereign nations with its main goal being the maintenance of
international peace and security (United Nations, 1982). The UN was founded in
1945, during the final weeks of World War II. The Charter of the United Nations
is the foundation document for all its work. The UN was established to “save
succeeding generations from the scourge of war” and one of its main purposes is
to maintain international peace and security. The Charter gives the UN Security
Council primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and
security. In fulfilling this responsibility, the Council may implement a range
of measures, including the establishment of a UN peacekeeping operation. The UN
peacekeeping is a unique worldwide partnership that brings together the General
Assembly, the Security Council, the Secretariat, troop and police contributors
and the host governments in a combined effort to maintain international peace
and security. Its strength lies in the legitimacy of the UN Charter and in the
wide range of contributing countries that participate and provide valuable
At first UN peacekeeping missions, which
is handled by the Security Council, was limited to maintaining ceasefires among
nations. These ceasefires were maintained through light military activity and
limited peace agreements. However, over the years, the UN has moved from
traditional, observer-based peacekeeping to a more hands on approach and also the
size, number and extent of peacekeeping missions worldwide have increased
substantially in the last several decades around the globe as international
personnel have been deployed to maintain the peace in war-torn regions.
Peacekeeping by definition is the active
maintenance of a truce between nations or communities, especially by an
international military force. It has proven to be one of the most effective
tools available to the UN to assist host countries navigate the difficult path
from conflict to peace. Peacekeeping has its own unique strengths which include
legitimacy, burden sharing, and an ability to deploy and sustain troops and
police from around the world, integrating them with civilian peacekeepers to
advance multidimensional mandates.
UN Peacekeepers provide security, the
political and peace building support to help countries make the difficult,
early transition from conflict to peace.
The range of tasks assigned to UN
peacekeeping operations has and keeps expanding significantly in response to
shifting patterns of conflict and to best address threats to international
peace and security. Today’s peacekeeping operations not only maintain peace and
security, but also help to facilitate the political process, protect civilians,
assist in the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former
combatants; support the organization of elections, protect and promote human
rights and assist in restoring the rule of law.
The Basic Principles of United Nations Peacekeeping
UN Peacekeeping is guided by three basic
principles. These are the consent of the parties, fairness, and non-use of
force with the exception in instances of self-defense and defense of the
of the parties
Nations peacekeeping operations are deployed with the consent of the main
parties to the conflict. However, this requires a commitment by the parties and
their acceptance of a peacekeeping operation mandated to support that process.
The consent of the main parties provide a United Nations peacekeeping operation
with the necessary freedom of action, both political and physical, in order to
carry out its mandated tasks. a United Nations peacekeeping operation risks
becoming a party to the conflict; and being drawn towards enforcement action,
and away from its basic role of keeping the peace in the absence of such
peacekeeping operation must work continuously to ensure that it does not lose
the consent and trust of the main parties when carrying out its mandate at the
same time ensuring that the peace process moves forward as the absence of trust
may at times, make consent uncertain and unreliable.
is vital to maintaining the consent and cooperation of the main parties, but
should not be confused with neutrality. As a requirement, the United Nations
peacekeeping operations are to implement their mandate without favor or
prejudice to any party. The peacekeepers should be fair in their dealings with
the parties to the conflict, but not neutral in the execution of their mandate.
A peacekeeping operation should not condone actions by the parties that violate
the undertakings of the peace process or the international norms and principles
that a United Nations peacekeeping operation upholds. They need to establish
and maintain good relations with the parties; a peacekeeping operation must
scrupulously avoid activities that might compromise its image of impartiality.
of force with the exception in instances of self-defense and defense of
Nations peacekeeping operations are not an enforcement tool. However, it is
widely understood that they may use force at the tactical level, with the
authorization of the Security Council, if acting in self-defense and defense of
environments into which United Nations peacekeeping operations are deployed are
often characterized by the presence of militias, criminal gangs, and other
spoilers who may actively seek to undermine the peace process or pose a threat
to the civilian population. In such situations, the Security Council has given
United Nations peacekeeping operations mandates authorizing them to “use all
necessary means” to deter forceful attempts to disrupt the political process,
protect civilians under imminent threat of physical attack, and/or assist the
national authorities in maintaining law and order.
roles of UN peacekeeping activities
Conflict prevention involves the application of
structural or diplomatic measures to keep intra-state or inter-state tensions
and disputes from escalating into violent conflict. Ideally, it should build on
structured early warning, information gathering and a careful analysis of the
factors driving the conflict. Conflict prevention activities may include the
use of the Secretary- General’s “good offices,” preventive deployment or
Peacemaking generally includes measures to
address conflicts in progress and usually involves diplomatic action to bring
hostile parties to a negotiated agreement. The United Nations
Secretary-General, upon the request of the Security Council or the General
Assembly or at his her own initiative, may exercise his or her “good offices”
to facilitate the resolution of the conflict.
may also be envoys, governments, and groups of states, regional organizations
or the United Nations. Peacemaking efforts may also be undertaken by unofficial
and non-governmental groups, or by a prominent personality working
Peacekeeping is a technique designed to
preserve the peace, however fragile, where fighting has been halted, and to
assist in implementing agreements achieved by the peacemakers. Over the years,
peacekeeping has evolved from a primarily military model of observing
cease-fires and the separation of forces after inter-state wars, to incorporate
a complex model of many elements – military, police and civilian – working
together to help lay the foundations for sustainable peace.
Peace enforcement involves the application, with
the authorization of the Security Council, of a range of coercive measures,
including the use of military force. Such actions are authorized to restore
international peace and security in situations where the Security Council has
determined the existence of a threat to the peace, breach of the peace or act
Security Council may utilize, where appropriate, regional organizations and
agencies for enforcement action under its authority.
Peacebuilding involves a range of measures
targeted to reduce the risk of lapsing or relapsing into conflict by
strengthening national capacities at all levels for conflict management, and to
lay the foundation for sustainable peace and development.
is a complex, long-term process of creating the necessary conditions for
sustainable peace. It works by addressing the deep-rooted, structural causes of
violent conflict in a comprehensive manner. Peacebuilding measures address core
issues that affect the functioning of society and the State, and seek to
enhance the capacity of the State to effectively and legitimately carry out its
Nothing as catastrophic as the two World
Wars has occurred, but there have been events following the formation of UN
that they could have handled in a better way. These events have been a key
reason why they have not been a successful peacekeeping organization. The
events that mirror the failures of UN peacekeeping include the India vs.
Pakistan conflicts which still rage on today with multiple bombings still
occurring in India, the Rwanda Genocide where more than 800,000 people died in
1994 at Rwanda following the killing of their President, and the Congo Crisis
which was followed by the independence of Congo from Belgium.
The United Nations (UN) is an
international organization that plays the lead role in international security
affairs and peacekeeping operations.
State sovereignty is one of the primary reasons why an organization such
as the UN is necessary. The fact that there is no world government to
coordinate the actions of states demands that a world organization holds at
least an advisory position in world affairs. However, it must be noted that
sovereignty can limit the power of the UN because sovereignty dictates non-intervention
in other state affairs. This can sometimes cause problems when there are
violations of human rights and the UN must decide if they have the right to
intervene and infringe on state sovereignty. Evidently, the UN has its
strengths and weaknesses, but it focuses on facilitating the peaceful
resolution of international disputes (Helms 3).Overall, the UN is relevant
because it is the sole global institutional structure where states can resolve
their problems without using force. At the same time, however, the UN needs to
improve some of its operations in order to be more effective.