45th Session Issues
The United Nations was formed by the victorious powers after World War II and is now reaching its golden anniversary. An organization that lasts as long as the United Nations has, must grow and change, as the world changes and the UN is no exception. "The Security Council (of the UN) has authorized as many peacekeeping operations since 1988 as in the previous 40 years and the number of active operations has doubled since January 1991 to 18." To keep up with the charges in the international environment the peacekeeping function of the United Nations needs to be modified to increase efficiency.
To understand the issue the notion of peacekeeping must be defined. Boutros-Ghali breaks the peacekeeping function into three parts in his "Agenda for peace." For the purpose of this analysis the definition of peace-keeping will encompass all three of the functions that Boutros-Ghali uses. More specifically peacekeeping shall be defined as, first the use of troops, at the request of the parties to the dispute, to monitor a peace treaty or cease-fire, second the UN personnel to "identify and support structures which will strengthen and solidify peace in order to avoid a relapse into conflict," third to include the distribution of humanitarian relief and the attempt to prevent conflicts from escalating, and fourth to engage in peace-making to resolve the issues that caused the conflict.
The United Nations came about after the end of World War II and is a creation of the victors of said war. The structure of the organization is based on the outcome of the war and the division of power and responsibility within the organization reflects the results of the conflict. The United States, France, Great Britain, and the Former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics were on the winning side of the war and thus received the majority of power and financial responsibility. The nations of Japan and Germany are even written into the charter as "enemy states" since they were on the losing side of the war.
However, since the international scene has altered dramatically since the Charter was written it needs to be altered to reflect the changes in the world. As mentioned above, the number of peacekeeping missions has dramatically increased in the last five years and the existing system is no longer effective.
The peacekeeping function of the United Nations is carried out by troops of the member nations under a mandate by the Security Council and directed by the Secretary General. Thus the operations are a hodge-podge of different troops and there is no central committee whose raison d'etre is to organize and coordinate the peacekeeping missions once they are mandated by the Security Council. Under current procedures three or four months can elapse between the Security Council's authorization of a mission and its becoming operational in the field. . . . most peacekeeping personnel are made available by governments (which can often take long periods for the nations to get authorization to mobilize) . . . and equipment can cause even greater bottlenecks. This leads to logistical nightmares in trying to get even standard supplies to the peacekeepers and lack of coordination after deployment.
The efficiency of the United Nations peacekeeping is being called into question at a time when the world is utilizing the organization more than at any other time in history. When the issue of restructuring UN peacekeeping is discuss there are several different alternatives that are most often considered.
The first alternative to consider would be the creation of a volunteer standing army for the UN. This would enable the UN to mobilize quickly. It would also eliminate the differences in training and preparedness that comes from the differences between nations. In addition, it would give the UN and its resolutions more international clout because the UN would then have a military to back up its statements.
On the negative side it would be costly for the UN to pay for a standing army, especially at a time when it cannot even afford its current system. Secondly, it would be in direct competition for recruits with the national militaries and thus might jeopardize a nation's abilities to create its own military from the best candidates.
A second alternative would be to coordinate with regional organizations like the Western European Union and NATO (Boutros-Ghali). This option would enable the UN to utilize international troops that have been trained to work together, often in the environment that the conflict is taking place i.e. using the Western European Union or NATO in the former Yugoslavia. Secondly, this option allows the UN an army that is trained and used to working together without the cost of creating a standing force. On the other hand, this prevents nations that are not members of any organization from participating.
In addition, this alternative would probably seem to Third World nations as more First World imperialism. Even if regions such as Africa or Latin America had organizations for security that had evolved to the extent that NATO or the WEU had, they would probably not have the technological superiority or the resources to finance missions that the first world has at its disposal. Finally, a standing army that is created from militaries across the globe runs the risk of having a vital member of the team that would be too personally involved in the conflict to participate. For example, the communications officer is a Turk and it is deemed that the Turks are too close to the conflict in the former Yugoslavia to participate in the conflict, then what? This would be especially critical in a small rapid deployment force, which is all the United Nations could afford or justify.
A third option would require each nation to place a number of troops and materials on standby for missions. The Secretary General would then have a list of the available troops and materials that he could mobilize on a moment's notice. In addition, by placing the troops on standby, rather than actually creating a standing army for the UN, a nation's military integrity would be preserved. This is especially important to nations like France, in which national military independence is written into military doctrine. Also, by placing troops on standby rather than using regional organizations you have a wider representation of military experience. Another reason to do this is that it allows all the member nations of the UN to participate in an operation, if they so choose, rather than excluding nations that are not part of a standing army or a regional organization. Finally, if a particular country is deemed to be too biased in a conflict, such as is the case with Turkey and the Bosnian conflict, then they do not have to be included in the mission. This would be much more difficult if a smaller regional organization was involved or a standing international force was created. However, on the downside, if troops are only on standby, then nations have the ability to refuse to mobilize troops or equipment on a UN sanctioned mission, which could leave the UN without a critical area covered. In addition, this alternative does not address the need for parity and homogeneity among troops.
Like the current situation, this means that nations of different technological preparedness, training, and educational requirements are working together and there is no real standard, unlike with a standing army. Finally, this option does not provide for a continuity of command. In other words, you have the same problem facing the UN as you do under the status quo of not having a cohesive chain of command because you have so many different national militaries involved.
In all of the above, except the status quo, the Military Staff Committee outlined in article 47 paragraph 2 of the charter could be activated to oversee the planning and running of the operations. This would help to eliminate some of the problems with the chain of command. Also, the mobilization would occur under actual military commanders from the permanent Security Council members rather than civilians. It therefore stands to reason that military men with experience in how militaries operate and past mobilization of troops on national, or even international fronts, like NATO commanders, would be more efficient at running UN operations.
To enable the United Nations to continue in peacekeeping missions throughout the world, it is necessary to adjust and fine-tune the existing system for peacekeeping within the body. To continue to perform its existing duties, as well as to take on new missions, the UN peacekeeping forces need to have the resources available so that we may make the post cold war world, one of, in the immortal words of Winston Churchill, "peace in our time."