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Last Updated: 04/03/2008Peacekeping and the New World Order
The collapse and disintegration of the Soviet Union fundamentally altered the structure of international relations and the expression of violent conflict. Where war was once considered the business of nation states, non-state actors and intrastate wars have come to the forefront of global security concerns. Givi Amiranashvili analyses the legal and political aspects of UN peacekeeping operations in this new geopolitical landscape.
The disintegration processes in the former USSR and Eastern European countries should be considered as the primary geopolitical event of the last decade of the 20th century. After the collapse of the Warsaw Pact (CMEA), global geopolitical changes, including the suspension of rivalry between two opposing political systems, weakened military-political relations.
In 1993-94, there were about 50 large conflicts, both old and new, throughout the world. These resulted in 26.3 million refugees, and about 4 million deaths. 90 per cent of these 4 million victims belonged to the peaceful population.
The majority of current conflicts are inside states, not between them. The end of the Cold War removed the fence that prevented the development of the conflict in the former USSR as well as in other countries. As a result, religious or ethnic wars broke out throughout the territories of the newly independent states. These wars are characterised by extreme violence and cruelty.
The Leyden University Centre of Social Conflicts Studies has listed 160 serious or potentially serious internal and international conflicts: 32 of these were qualified as “real wars”, during which more than 1,000 people died; 69 conflicts were qualified as retarded ones, where violence was manifested episodically and less intensively; and 59 as serious disputes, where one side threatened to use force or even demonstrated it.
During internal conflicts and peacekeeping operations, regular armies are confronted by opposing forces and rebellions and armed citizens, who are often disorganised but still cause disorder. These wars, in many cases, are guerrilla wars, without any obvious fronts: it is the peaceful citizens who suffer most during these conflicts.
Another characteristic of these conflicts is the destruction of state institutions, particularly the legal and police systems. This causes paralysis of administrative structures, disorder in legal activities, civil chaos, and destruction. Conflicts are accompanied by violations of human rights and freedoms and international humanitarian law.
Peace-keeping Operations, as an International Security Measure
In situations where there is no apparent solution to the problem, international society is able with the agreement of the parties to the conflict to arrange for peacekeeping operations (military, police and civilian personnel) to go to the crisis region to ensure peace.
The UN has created and developed peacekeeping operations as one of the measures to ensure international peace and security. Since 1948, over 750,000 military and civilian police personnel, as well as thousands of other civilians, have served in UN peacekeeping operations. More than 1,500 peacekeepers have died while serving in these missions. In 1998, the UN peace-keepers were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their activities in the field of peace-keeping.
During first 40 years of UN activities, 13 operations were created in order to ensure peace. Since 1988, the UN has launched 30 new operations. The total deployment of United Nations military and civilian personnel has reached almost 70,000 from 77 countries. As the number of peacekeeping operations has increased, so too has the cost of United Nations peacekeeping. The UN's annual budget for peace keeping was US$3.6 billion in both 1994 and 1995. The UN's military expenses in the former Yugoslavia alone were US$3 billion in this period.
Each Member-State has to contribute its mite, but it should be pointed out that as of March 1997 members-states owed the UN total of US$1.9 billion, of this, US$1 billion was owed by the USA.
Peacekeepers are paid by their own governments. Countries volunteering personnel to peacekeeping operations are reimbursed by the UN at a flat rate of about US$1,000 per soldier per month. The UN also reimburses countries for equipment. But reimbursements to these countries are often deferred because of cash shortages caused, as mentioned above, by Member States’ failure to pay their dues.
The “traditional” principles of peacekeeping activities have been replaced by complex, integrated operations that require a combination of political, military and humanitarian activities. Police officers, electoral observers, human rights monitors and other civilians have joined military personnel under the United Nations flag to help implement negotiated settlements of conflicts, encouraging former opponents to build a peaceful future together.
Peace-keeping Operations and Regional Conflicts
At present, there are a great number of so-called "forgotten regional conflicts", to which the international community (and chiefly the big states) does not pay much attention. Some of these countries are Rwanda, Liberia, Somalia, and Sri Lanka. Local political forces are incapable, and where international forces have not been actively involved in these conflicts they have lasted much longer (i.e. the war in Sudan has continued for over 30 years). However, the UN observers in Liberia and Rwanda cannot stop the military violence.
There are two ways to end the violence:
1) The parties involved in the conflict agree on some issues concerning the end of conflict and invite the UN as an arbiter and observer (in this case, UN carries out peace-keeping operations);
2) or big countries (under the UN mandate) interfere in the conflict forcing an end to military activities. In this case, a “peace enforcement” operation is carried out.
The main point, in our view, is that the opposing parties do not try to conclude a peace agreement. Another significant problem is Member States’ inability to supply the relevant and sufficient resources to solve the problem. Sometimes, the Security Council has charged peacekeepers with solving key issues, but the states did not provide the means. For example, in 1994, the Secretary General informed the Security Council that peacekeeping commanders would need 35,000 troops to
deter attacks on the “safe areas” in Bosnia and Herzegovina created by the Security Council. Member States authorised 7,600 troops and it took a year to provide them.
In Rwanda in 1994, faced with evidence of genocide, the Security Council unanimously decided that
5,500 peacekeepers were urgently needed. But it took nearly six months for Member States to provide the troops, even though 19 Governments had pledged to keep 31,000 troops on a stand-by basis for UN peacekeeping.
Since March 1997 the following countries have done the most to provide forces: Pakistan (1,725 soldiers), Bangladesh (1,155 soldiers), Russian Federation (1,144 soldiers), Jordan (1,101 soldiers), Poland (1,094 soldiers) and India (1,082 soldiers). The small island nation of Fiji has taken part in virtually every UN peacekeeping operation, as has Canada.
Even non-UN Member States have contributed; Switzerland, for example, provides money, medical units, aircraft and other equipment to peacekeeping.
Previously, peacekeeping forces aimed at a very moderate goal (provision of assistance to a ceasefire). Currently, modern peacekeepers are in charge of providing:police functions;assisting refugees;supplying the population of the conflict zone with food and necessities; and the holding of fair elections and regulation of activities in the fields of national security, foreign affairs, social security, financial and information spheres (the UN operation in Cambodia).
The UN can really be proud of the peacekeeping operations conducted until recently, namely: Namibia and Cambodia, El Salvador and Haiti, Angola and Tajikistan. This is an incomplete list of the regions and countries where the UN observers and troops supported cease-fires (or decreased the scale of conflict) and the process of normalisation of the situation. The Cyprus operation (“green line”) appears to be the most productive among them, however, it cannot achieve a final resolution of the conflict.
Fifteen Member States of the Security Council create and identify peacekeeping missions, five of these - China, France, Russia, Great Britain and the US - have a power of veto over peacekeeping operations.
The governments that send forces have absolute power over the military forces under the UN flag and provide for the withdrawal of the troops if required. Peacekeepers wear their national uniforms, but, in order to identify them as UN forces, they wear either a blue beret or helmet and insignia.
Peace-keeping Operations and the New World Order
In many cases, a state’s participation in peace-keeping operations is related to its national interests, which also reflect its readiness, willingness of the forces in the country, their disposition to the opposing parties, and their interrelations. Very often, a negative attitude towards the opposing sides make this or that state's officials refrain from participating in peace-keeping operations.
The bipolar world no longer exists. A group of the great states has taken its place, and they have carried out the rearrangement of the world according to their responsibilities providing for the regulation of local conflicts.
These zones might be conditionally divided into two categories: special responsibility zones of big countries, and collective responsibility zones of some of the big countries. For example, the special responsibility zones for the US are: Central America and the Caribbean Basin and also the Middle East. For the big European states such as France - Equatorial Africa, and for Russia - the former USSR territories.
The territory of former Yugoslavia serves as an example of a zone of collective responsibility, where some big states (USA, UK, France, Germany and Russia) try to resolve this conflict. The Korean peninsula is another area of collective responsibility, where the USA, Japan, China and Russia participate in the process of solving the problem. Big states are in charge of resolving local conflicts, as a rule they are acting under the aegis of the international organisations, namely: UN, NATO, OCSE, CIS, ASEAN and so on.
The settlement of the crisis in Yugoslavia and Bosnia was a US initiative as evidenced by the on-going process and the Dayton Agreement. We do not agree with Russian specialists and politicians, when they accuse the USA of trying to achieve hegemony. They should remember that the process of conflict resolution in the Dniester region (Moldova), Abkhazia (Georgia), Karabakh (Azerbaijan), the former Osetia (Georgia) and Tajikistan is going on under the dictate of Moscow.
In this respect the Georgian government's submission to the Security Council concerning peacekeeping status for Russia and CIS countries should be noted, even though Boutros Boutros Ghali, the UN Secretary General, did not accept it at the time. He claimed that if only one or two countries are represented it does not mean that they are a CIS multinational force. They will never be given power to carry out peacekeeping operations under the UN flag. We absolutely agree with this statement. However, Ghali’s position in regard to Georgia soon changed. It coincided with the resolution adopted by the government of the US to end the Haiti military regime, an idea also advocated by the UN. The US started some activities in Haiti to re-establish democracy and legal governmental bodies. Soon after, the Security Council adopted resolutions 937 and 940, which authorised the use of CIS peacekeeping forces on the territory of Georgia under the aegis of UN and OCSE (evidently mainly Russian forces) as well as the use of military forces in Haiti that were mainly American.
The adoption of resolutions concerning security of Georgia and Haiti led to a polemical debate. The Times touched on this problem – bringing troops to Haiti was the result of an arrangement
between the big states. In order to receive support for the actions in Haiti the US supported Moscow to bring a peacekeeping mission into Georgia under the aegis of the UN. Henry Kissinger directly claimed this in the “Washington Post” – the government of the USA had made a mistake and had established a precedent that might be used by Russia against its so-called foreign neighbouring countries.
Currently in Georgia there is a large dispute following the introduction of “peace enforcement” on the Bosnia model in Abkhazia. First, it should be mentioned that the Bosnia model is a larger concept. It covers a wide spectrum of issues that are intimately related to the Bosnia-Herzegovina state-political arrangement, which is designed as a confederation-state based on the Dayton Agreement proposals for the Bosnia-Croatia Federation and the Serbska Republic). This is unacceptable for Georgia.
The Bosnia model implies the use of Bosnian “Peace enforcement” principle and adequate actions of international commonwealth towards human rights abuse and violation, in general. It is one thing to carry out “peace enforcement” in Bosnia and another is to use it in Georgia, that is unrealistic today. The territory of the former USSR (except the Baltic countries) is still under the influence of Russia based on the geopolitical arrangement between the West and Russia. In this regard, the existence of Russian military bases in Georgia and in Abkhazia should be noted. The issue of the “peace enforcement” operation is scheduled for discussion at the Security Council where Russia will certainly use its right to veto the issue (pleading geopolitical interests). If we imagine that NATO was to provide for this operation, as it did in Yugoslavia, then it would find itself involved in military activities against Russia. This must not happen. It is one thing is to carry out “peace enforcement” operations (which are of an experimental kind) in the middle of Europe supported by the international community but it is another thing to conduct these operations in Abkhazia, where any military action (even air action) is immediately connected with the security of the Russian military bases. Therefore, it seems impossible that the international community will step in this direction when NATO operation in Kosovo has not yet ended and its question has not been finally settled. So, aside from other factors, to consider providing a "peace enforcement" operation in Georgia is unrealistic. The question is: can Russia, under this mandate, carry out this operation, or make Abkhazians through the use of force, agree to the return of refugees to Abkhazia and continue peace negotiations? Firstly, if Russia were seriously interested in this matter, it would settle the problem without any further military actions or complications. Secondly, any forced reaction from the Russian side towards Abkhazia would escalate political relations between the government and opposition, which provide significant military and political support to the separatists' government. Also, the northern-Caucasian aspect should also be taken into consideration. Providing a “peace enforcement” operation in Abkhazia would escalate anti-Russian feelings in northern Caucasian republics and create new and serious problems for Russia. For these reasons Russia definitely will not take the risk.
So, at this stage, establishing a Bosnia model of “peace enforcement” in Georgia seems unrealistic to us. But this does not mean that in the not too distant future the issue will not be raised on the agenda.
Those who support the dominant role of the US strictly defend the position that a lack of direct interest in the post-soviet states should not mean that the USA should leave these countries and provide Russia with monopolistic power to keep peace and security in its neighbouring countries.
The political scientist C. Maince considers that, within the frame of the changed international conditions, a rearrangement of the spheres of influence among big states should take place. The US will keep a dominant role among the western countries; and Russia will have an analogous role within the territory of former USSR. India will become a leader in South Asia, China and Japan in the rest of the Asian continent. In Maince's view, this would reflect the new realities of the modern world.
It seems to us that these developments are only temporary kind and we believe that, in the XXI century, the principle of zone rearrangement to resolve conflicts, will give a place to a truly collegiate, common position that will support the international humanitarian aspiration.
Peace-keeping Operations and NATO
Recently, NATO has paid special attention to peacekeeping activities. The legal basis is given in the
UN Charter (regional treaties) and in the NATO-Treaty. Hence, when taking part in UN peace-keeping operations, NATO acts in compliance with the UN Charter, i.e. it should settle conflicts by peaceful means and provide the Security Council with information regarding peace-keeping actions; most importantly the enforcement policy can be provided only with Security Council permission.
The North Atlantic Council and other Committees, through effective communication systems, regular collective training, and practical military actions provide a rapid decision on conducting military activities in order to warn of conflicts as well as carrying out the activities to avoid escalation of the conflict.
For better co-ordination of NATO policy, the American military combines its military objectives and other goals to provide peace-keeping activities and bring all activities into a common strategic plan, as well as providing structures of leadership, control and communication, and research.
In order to counter criticism of the contemporary strategy, it is worth highlighting one of the problems, such as participation in the process of elaboration common European strategy in order to ensure peace and security collectively by OCSE, NATO and UN.
R. Maince who supports a realistic approach towards the planning of UN activities and who as well suggests a fundamental revision of US foreign policy doubts that the 5 permanent Member States of the Security Council, those which have a power of veto, will be able to agree to any policy on the territory of the former USSR and within the conflict zones in Europe (where the current situation in Yugoslavia serves as a bad example). Diversity in aims particularly those of Russia and China might impede the adoption of a constructive resolution by the Security Council.
In our view, when the issue concerns the resolution of the Security Council, the question arises whether the resolutions of the Security Council in each case have a legal basis? Or, where are political and legal limits of resolutions adopted by the Security Council? Does there exist any structure that might control the legality of resolutions of the Security Council? – Of course not. The reality is that the peacekeeping operations serve the interests of the big states and cannot contradict pseudo strategic or national interests that sometime oppose international efforts to solve the conflict rapidly. Briefly, we can remember Russia’s role in the course of the Abkhazia conflict and not only in Abkhazia but also during conflict in the territories of its immediate neighbours Russia is acting in its own interests.
For as long as the veto principle exists (we consider it out of date, because it was adopted to deal with a reality of the former times) it can only serve the interests of the big states. The resolutions made by the Security Council are and will be the results of this agreement. We continue to hope that the big states’ responsibilities in the field of protection of common peace and security, humanitarian issues, as well as adherence to principles of developing democratic institutions and ideals will avoid unfair (one-sided) resolutions.
I believe that the UN played a significant role in the course of Cold War to balance positions between East and West. However, times have changed and current events throughout the world are deteriorating, and this is particularly apparent in the settlement of the international conflicts. The UN has had to start reform. The vacuum between the UN Charter and activities to be carried out to implement it, is the main reason for late reaction to events.
In the cold war period, the arms race, frozen relations between West and East, and distrust made it impossible to elaborate a common position providing for the settlement of international conflicts and the use of peace-keeping forces.
The practice of using peacekeeping forces must be improved. As we can see, recruitment of “blue helmets” and their further deployment in conflict zones is behind time. The separation of opponents and setting forces between them only takes place when the conflict has been through a special phase when one of the two opposite sides is in a winning position. Deploying forces at that time to separate the parties definitely will not bring final settlement of the conflict through peaceful means: it can only be a short-term action. The risk of a renewed outbreak of conflict increases as the weaker side rebuilds as happened in Bosnia-Herzegovina. In order to avoid this, we propose that the UN force an aggressor or peace-breaker by means of negotiation, economic sanctions, and enforcement to return to the pre-war position, re-establish the status-quo ante and sit at the table for negotiations. It is only then that peacekeepers should be deployed to conflict zones.
We consider the approach of using NATO military formations and the idea of creation the UN rapid reaction group to be crucially important. We support the project of the government of the Netherlands and consider that the creation of the rapid reaction brigade would fill the gap between the resolutions adopted by the Security Council and their further implementation. The brigade must be authorised to use force if the situation warrants it.
The question of adding a special article to the UN Charter suggested by the Japanese and Brazilian governments providing for the procedures of peacekeeping operations as well as for the mechanism and proficiency of the bodies responsible for carrying out peacekeeping operations, seems timely if not overdue.
NATO's responsibilities in the settlement of international conflicts must increase. As we mentioned above, it has demonstrated that it is perfectly equipped and has well trained mobilised forces to play an effective role. NATO's effective structure gives it the chance to use them operatively. If NATO had not taken a strict position towards Bosnia-Herzegovina, including an ultimatum and bombing Serbian positions, God knows when the bloody conflict in Bosnia would have finished. The Dayton-Treaty is the result of NATO efforts. NATO forces were responsible for this treaty and have a power of action in case the Treaty is violated. We consider it expedient to conclude an agreement (pact) between UN and NATO (as a regional military institution) further to regulate the issue on the use of NATO forces in order to settle conflicts in future.
With that end in view we should apply the International Court of Justice more often. Its jurisdiction should be equally binding, not facultative, for all the states. Even in cases where just one of the arties makes a reference to the court, the case must be examined anyway.
The Military-Staff-Committee that consists of the Chiefs of Staff of the permanent members of the Security Council or their representatives must be strengthened to better provide assistance to the Security Council in particular, through establishing a rapid reaction group.
 Report of the Secretary General on the work of the Organization, Doc. 50/1 1995, August, p. 6.
 V. I. Batjuk, USA – Economy, Policy and Ideology (Russ.), 1996, No. 12.)
 The Times, 01.08.1994.
 Washington Post, 25.09.1994.
Givi Amiranashvili is a Leading Specialist of the Consulate Department of the Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He is also Head of the Legal Sector in the Bureau for Information on Assets and Finances of Public Officials in Georgia. He is a professor at Grigol Robakidze University, Georgia.