United Nations peacekeeping operations thrive in some of the most challenging environments across the globe. Their task usually includes, dealing with an array of conflicts or post-war repercussions. Most would agree that, since 1945, the UN has effectively, “provided food to 90 million people in over seventy-five countries, assisted 34 million refugees, worked with 140 nations to minimize climate change, seventy-one international peacekeeping missions, and finally aided fifty countries per year with their elections” (UN, 2020). And yet, disappointments occurred at several points of their existence. Since “the UN has been involved in nearly every major international conflict,” we can expect to see some major mishaps. (Bercovitch and Jackson 2009, 67). For instance, both the Rwanda and Bosnia genocide are key reminders of the UN’s gross failures.
The UN consists, of several intertwined organs. Having a very large body, “each of the 193 Member States, of the United Nations is also a member of the General Assembly. States are admitted to membership in the UN by a decision of the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council” (UN.org 2020). Following its Charter, the UN oversees at least “thirteen operations across the Continent” (UN 202).
Deciding whether the UN is effective or not, depends on the UN’s ability to reduce conflict. When it comes to human rights violations, one of the greatest tools the UN has to its advantage, is its media shaming. “Moreover, their data shows that the UN has the worse success rate when intervening in intrastate conflict (conflicts within states), yet this has become the more common type of conflict since the 1990s” (Bercovitch and Jackson 2009: 68) Shashi, offered an opinion as to why the UN isn’t effective. The author concedes that;
“The problem of reforming the Security Council is rather akin to a situation in which a number of doctors gather around a patient and all agree on the diagnosis, but they cannot agree
on the prescription. The diagnosis is clear: the Security Council (SC) reflects the geopolitical realities of 1945 and not of today. This situation can be anatomized mathematically, geographically, and politically, as well as in terms of equity” (Shashi 2011).
Contrary to what Shashi says, the UN has its own means of measuring success. Accordingly, it must, “be guided by the principles of consent, impartiality and the non-use of force except in self-defense and defense of the mandate; Be perceived as legitimate and credible, particularly in the eyes of the local population, and Promote national and local ownership of the peace process in the host country” (UN 2020). With this thought in mind, the UN has shown significant changes in countries like, “Sierra Leone, Burundi, Côte d’Ivoire, Timor-Leste, Liberia, Haiti and Kosovo” (UN). During these ongoing operations the UN has provided;
“Basic security guarantees and responding to crises, supporting political transitions and helping buttress fragile new state institutions. In furtherance, they have helped countries to close the chapter of conflict and open a path to normal development, even if major peace-building challenges remained” (UN 2020).
While I applaud the efforts of the United Nations, I believe their infrastructure is greatly flawed. As a body, elite countries, tout their power ignoring centuries of a weak, failing, infrastructure. The mere fact that the UN has prolonged operations in Africa and the Middle East, where resources are vastly fought over, raises suspicion. Perhaps the UN, has proven it is tough on “crime” preventing natives from bearing arms. However, and to the best of my opinion, the UN receives an “F,” when it comes to helping the mentored country gain independence. There is still massive violence, rape, land grabs, restricted resources, and increased poverty in many of the areas the UN oversees. Take for example Sierra Leone. A country in which the UN considers to be successful. Currently, while under the watchful eye of the UN; Sierra Leone remains highly vulnerable. According to sources, “ crisis, and rampant inflation, have had an impact on the country’s food security. Chronic malnutrition remains a major problem with 31.3% of children suffering from stunted growth. Maternal mortality, is currently one of the highest ratios in the world, and is a national priority. Finally, lack of access to basic services is also problematic, with 32.2% of the population having no access to a source of drinking water” (UN Peacekeeping 2020)
If “reduction” only, is the goal, than the UN has done its job. However, if their mission is to eradicate the real problems facing international countries, then being “legitimate and credible particularly in the eyes of the local population,” is concerning. In respect of this, mentored countries are seeking help elsewhere. Non-governmental organizations like, “Actions Against Hunger,” are sincerely tackling the same problems, with less funding, and no political gains. Numerous other NGO’s, are now engaging in strategic agricultural activities, as a means of tackling the hunger problems, across the same spectrum as the UN.
Perhaps the UN should take a lesson from some of the grass roots NGOs. The UN prides itself with being involved in every international conflict, since their commencement. My question would be, why have they waited until 2010, to finally implement a food stability movement? And why is it taking so long to reach the ultimate goal. I think the saying goes, “give a man a fish and feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and feed him for a life-time”. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization:
“A US$900 million ‘global program for food security’ was announced only on April 22, 2010. It is funded by the United States, Canada, Spain, and South Korea, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation also joined” the program. On June 23, 2010, an amount of US$224 million was allocated to the first five beneficiaries: Bangladesh, Haiti, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, and Togo” (Sasson 2012).
PS-research not included here reveals, Bill Gates means Africa no good. Regardless, of the money he throws around. But this is a story for another day. Gates, goal for Africa, is population control. Besides, proper use of nearly a billion dollars, would have left Africa looking like
The foremost challenge facing the United Nations is the risk of delegitimization via a loss of credibility due to an inability to adapt. The bureaucratic challenges the UN currently face regarding reform seem insurmountable. On top of that, the end-state picture of a post-reform UN is undefined. Shashi Tharoor (2011) describes the veto power associate with the permanent Security Council positions as a major point of contention when discussing reform. Tharoor points out that the five permanent UNSC members with veto powers (the United States, Britain, France, Russia, and China) lack geographic diversity. As such, the legitimacy of their decisions and influence in unrepresented parts of the world, like South America and Africa, are scrutinized. According to critics of the veto-player theory, more veto-holding members will only sandbag intervention efforts and cost valuable time when action is needed.
According to research on conflict mitigation and prevention, it is clear that IOs like the United Nations are effective to some degree in developing peace and mitigating ongoing conflicts. Shannon, Morey, and Boehmke (2010) discovered that IO intervention is a catalyst for bringing conflicting parties to negotiations. Additionally, Doyle and Sambanis (2000) determined that a strong third-party military presence is effective at stopping ongoing violence. From these data sets, we can determine that the United Nations achieves noteworthy success in terms of mitigation. However, there is little data to support (in fact there is significant data to refute) the ability of IOs, including the UN, to prevent conflicts from initiating. One challenge to conflict prevention that is not analyzed in this week’s reading is that of state sovereignty and the responsibility to protect. International intervention is easier to justify (or harder to ignore) once a conflict is underway and the global responsibility to protect the human rights of non-combatants is in effect
The statistics show that the UN is more effective in peacebuilding operations between states than it is in internal conflicts (Week 8 Lesson & Doyle and Sambanis 2000). This can be partially attributed to the fact that intrastate conflicts are often ethnic-based conflict. As Doyle and Sambanis (2000) found in their research, these types of conflict have a low success rate for international organization peacebuilding efforts. This can be attributed to the fact that “ethnic or internal wars are often remarkably resistant to any conflict management efforts” and “unless there is some degree of regional or international pressure, the warring sides almost always choose to fight to the finish” (Bercovitch and Simpson 2010, 71). This supports Doyle and Sambanis’s (2000) findings when you consider the need for military intervention.
Furthermore, according to the same study, peacebuilding efforts are more likely to be successful when the conflict is drawn out, settled by a peace treaty, and subjected to a strong UN peace presence with a relatively extensive mandate (Doyle and Sambanis 2000). This is in alignment with the concept that “war will recur if the expected utility of war is greater than the expected utility of peace” (Doyle and Sambanis 2000, 780). Conflicting parties are unlikely to push for peace when they still believe a chance of victory remains. As conflicts are prolonged in a standoff the perception of possible victory decreases among all parties and the opportunity for peace increases.
The first item that I noted during our reading related to the UN effectiveness is whether the Security Council should be expanded or not. Presently, the Security Council has 15 nations amongst the 192 members of the UN. There are several anomalies between the Security Council and the member states. For instance there are some geographically anomalies. One of this geographical anomalies is that Europe makes up 33% of Security Council while only making up 5% of population. Next, there are four substantial (both politically and economically) nations that are not within the Security Council, which are Germany, Japan, India and Brazil. With the required two thirds majority needed for a nation to be approved and with so many national rivalries, reform within the Security Council seems dead on arrival. Third, the major gridlock that prevents the UN from successfully resolving conflicts is the divide between the US and Russia. With these issues in mind, there is a potential for the UN to be discredited and for nations to look to other alternatives to the UN such as the G-8, G-8 plus China, India, Brazil and the South Africa or it could be replaced by the G-20 (Tharoor, p 402).
Next, we will look at peacekeeping or peacebuilding, which is defined as “an attempt, after the peace has been negotiated or imposed, to address the source of current hostility and build local capacities for conflict resolution” (Doyle, p779). The UN has been most successful in mitigating conflicts between nations (interstate). However, the UN has not been successful in preventing conflict within the states (intrastate). Unfortunately for the UN, the majority of the conflicts are within the states. The UN might be effective amongst conflicts between states because there are able to affect sanctions or enforcement mechanisms to curb the violence on both side so they are forces mediate. The conflicts within a state such as civil wars often include numerous non-state actors so their counterproductive eff