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Legal, Strategic, and Operational Environments and Effectiveness of Peacekeeping of UN Missions
Originating as an international mechanism for maintaining peace, peacekeeping is the active maintenance of stability and peace between nations and communities with an aim of protecting citizens by using force. In practice, peacekeeping entails the use of the military, police, and civilians who work in finding political support for ensuring security and peacebuilding (United Nations, UN, 2016). The UN has been an active player in the peacekeeping process especially in Darfur, Sierra Leone, Israeli-Palestine conflict in the Middle East as well as in dealing with the refugee and climatic crisis. In order to achieve its goals of peacekeeping, the UN cooperates with various countries and international organizations such as the African Union, the European Union, IMF, and the World Bank. The UN peacekeeping mission has experienced both success and failure in its efforts. Nonetheless, it plays a pivotal role in ensuring peace and saving millions of lives that would have been otherwise lost in bloody conflicts. In the recent times, the nature and level of violence in wars have increased, which has led to the declaration of Chapter vii of the UN peacekeeping treaty. Simply, this regulation permits the use of force to stop militants from attacking civilians or their property.[1] This paper will discuss a case of Sierra Leone, a country that UN peacekeepers succeeded in stopping a long and catastrophic civil war by enacting Chapter vii of the UN Charter.
UN Triumphs and Failures
In the provision of an enduring peace, the UN has highly succeeded in the process. Regions such as Namibia, El Salvador, Eastern Slovenia, and Sierra Leon have attained high levels of peace thanks to the efforts of the UN. The UN uses multiple strategies to attain its objective of delivering enduring peace to its member states. It uses strategies such as mediation, humanitarian assistance, support for elections, and aiding in the post-war reconstruction of a country. Ultimately, these efforts provide it with international legitimacy. Some of UN major achievements include the following:

  • It has played an instrumental role in the stoppage and limiting the creation of nuclear non-proliferation treaty after the Nagasaki and Hiroshima bombings. [2]
  • It was one of the pioneers of the Ottawa Convention that banned the use of land mines on anti-personnel
  • It was instrumental in the establishment of the millennial development goals that aimed at reducing poverty
  • It was at the forefront in the formation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the establishment of equal rights for women, children and the marginalized.[3]
  • It is always at the forefront in the fight against diseases such as smallpox, polio, malaria, TB, and recently against Ebola and Zika virus.
  • It established the International Criminal Court (ICC) that ensures that world leaders remain accountable for their actions.
  • It also promoted the establishment of a safe, healthy, and secure environment by the formation of the Kyoto Protocol

Despite these successes, the UN has also failed in some of its endeavors. For example, the UN failed on its peacekeeping missions in Bosnia, Rwanda, Somalia, and Southern Sudan that by being unable to stop ethnic violence. Moreover, even some of the peacekeeping missions that appear to have been a success always return to violence soon after the partial establishment of stability. A notable such case is Southern Sudan[4].
Among the reasons that have been identified as the cause of failure is the lack of involvement of the military officers who are on the ground in the establishment of policies aimed at establishing a truce. In addition, the UN always suffers from a shortage of finances to conduct its activities effectively. As a result, most of its soldiers are usually under equipped, understaffed, and its soldiers are not usually sufficiently competent in peacekeeping activities. The UN also acts as a perfect scapegoat for problems beyond its control.
Sierra Leone Civil War of 1991-2002
The United Nations was successful in ending the 11 years of civil war that had ravaged the country and led to lots of death. In December 2005, the UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMISL) completed its six years of peacekeeping in the country. The Sierra Leone case is, in particular, a good example of UN’s ability to maintain peace since Sierra Leone has never returned to civil war. The UN moved into Sierra Leon in 1999 with an aim of brokering peace and ceasefire in order to support in the transition to democratic governance. Using UNAMISL, the UN was able to aid the country to transition peace and demonstrated to the world its capacity as a peace broker[5].
The UN disarmed over 75,000 ex-fighters of which an estimated 7,000 of them were child soldiers. It also assisted the country to hold national and local elections. In addition, it assisted in the development of a local police force. It contributed to the development of infrastructure and in the development of government services for local communities. The UN also helped in stopping the illegal trade and mining of diamonds, which funded the rebels and fueled conflict in the country. Notably, the restoration of peace in Sierra Leone enabled more than half a million internally displace people to return to their homes and rebuild their lives.
UNAMSIL trained and monitored many Sierra Leoneans in human rights. These skills were essential in the setting up of the Special Court of Sierra Leone that heard and settled many cases on war crimes. This court assisted in healing the wounds caused by the war since it created an avenue where both the victims and perpetrators of war could meet. In order to ensure that the country had a self-sustaining economy, the UN agencies developed the quick income generating activities that provided employments to thousands of youths and exfighters. Moreover, these quick-impact generating activities also enabled in the establishment of basic services such as schools, clinics, agricultural projects and other important basic services to the local communities.
The economic revival in the country was able to attract refugees who were instrumental in rebuilding the country’s local economy. In fact, this inflow enabled former ghost towns like Kono and Tongo Fields to become havens of trade since the mines in these areas attracted most young people. [6]These regions played an important role in ensuring that the energetic but uneducated youth who had been affected by the war found employment.
Nonetheless, despite the UN efforts unemployment rates were still high in the country. Moreover, the country had a significant role to play in ensuring that there is the full reintegration of formerly displaced individuals in the country. The UN Integrated Office for Sierra Leon (UNIOSIL) was mandated with this responsibility. In addition, it also assisted the country in the establishment and realization of the millennium development goals as well as in the protection of the Special Court. Ultimately, these efforts enabled the country to transition to peace and become a model of how the UN could be effective in peacekeeping. The recent prosecution of Charles Taylor in 2012, who masterminded the civil war with other individuals, demonstrated that even leaders should remain accountable for their actions[7].
Chapter vii of UN Charter and Soft or Hard Power
While the UN peacekeepers work as mostly power brokers, with an aim of ensuring that the conflicting parties agree to peacefully settle their differences, there is inevitably the need for the UN peacekeepers to use some extent of force in their activities. The underlying question then is on what the appropriate amount of force is and what repercussions it has to the peace process. Further, there the need of understanding if the soft powers of the UN, negotiations and arbitration are equally effective as hard powers such as using military warfare tactics. Among the various issues facing the UN High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations, is on the use of force in the peacekeeping process.[8] Since its initiation in the Sierra Leone civil war, the use of force has proved to be effective, albeit with some level of challenges[9].
To begin with, the use of force enables peacekeepers to intercede between combatants, which in turn enable them to reduce the level of hostilities that target civilians. In addition, the peacekeepers also impose a physical barrier between the fighters and potential civilian targets. As a result, the use of force becomes a less attractive option. While the application of Chapter vii of the UN Charter is important, there is an overwhelming fear of its use since the use. In particular, the use of too much force may make the UN peacekeepers appear as being invasive and not obeying the sovereign laws and integrity of a country[10].
The changing types of wars and the continued violation of human rights are among the reasons for the need for the UN to enact Chapter vii of its Charter in the peacekeeping process. Since insurgent groups at times target peacekeepers, then, the use of an appropriate retaliatory force is essential. In 2015 for example, six UN peacekeepers were attacked in northern Mali. In fact, the UN Operations in Cote d’Ivoire (UNOCI) was prompted to use force against a militia that was associated with former president Laurent Gbagbo in order to protect civilians.[11] A similar situation was observed in 1999 when the UN was forced to use force when 200 of its peacekeepers were kidnapped. These incidences illustrate the growing complexity and difficulty of engaging in war, even as peacekeepers.
The growing complexity and increasing dangerous environments where the peacekeepers are been deployed is bringing a challenge on the tactics that are most appropriate in dealing with war. In particular, the growth in the civilians’ expectations on UN has been outpaced by the growth in complexity of the war. In addition, there have been increased militarization and demand for peacekeepers that is coupled with a shortage of finances to aid in the peace process. Noteworthy, the UN works through the voluntary contribution from its member countries. A significant proportion of these funds originate from European countries that are currently suffering from their own problems. In particular, these countries are dealing with the immigrant crisis and the slowdown in their economies. As a result, they are unable to contribute the much-needed finances to peacekeeping activities.
Hard power simply refers to the ability to obtain the desired outcomes using force. Soft power, on the other hand, attains the desired outcomes through coercion. While the use of military appears to be effective, it has a major limitation of legitimacy. To begin with, the use of excess force in the peacekeeping process may make the locals to question the legitimacy of the UN. This occurs especially where the war is long and violent. As a result, civilians may at times imagine that the peacekeepers are perpetrators of the crime. On the contrary, soft power is essential for building legitimacy.[12]
To begin with, legitimacy is an important aspect in enabling international participation in the peace making process. Moreover, international laws such as a country’s sovereignty protect it from forceful and illegitimate invasion. In light of this, despite the UN peacekeeping mission and duty, it is bound to respect international laws and it cannot impose itself in a country. With this reality, the UN peacekeeping mission must strike a balance in the determination of the right amount of force to use in every task.
Lessons Learned
The use of Chapter vii of the UN Charter demonstrated that longstanding peace can be obtained through active military intervention. The use of force enables peacekeepers to intercede between combatants, which enable them to reduce the level of hostilities that target civilians. In addition, the peacekeepers also impose a physical barrier between the fighters and potential civilian targets. Finally, the use of military force ends the civil war[13].
Conclusion
To sum up, the use of military force to protect civilians and their property is effective in ending a long and enduring conflict. In addition, it quickens the process of obtaining peace and stability as weel as minimizing the number of casualties. In light of this, countries all over the world should come up with means of ensuring that the UN it is well funded to deal with the many challenges that it faces.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Bibliography

  1. Held and M. Koenig-Archibugi. “Hard Power, Soft Power and Goals of Diplomacy.” American Power in the 21st Century, Vol. 1, No. 1, (2004), pp. 167-180.
  2. Millar. “Our Brothers Who Went to the Bush’: Post-identity Conflict and the Experience of Reconciliation in Sierra Leone.” Journal of Peace Research, Vol. 49, No. 5, (2012), pp. 717-729.

K., Beardsley, and K., Gleditsch. “Peacekeeping as Conflict Containment.” International Studies Review, Vol. 17, No. 1, (2015), pp 67–89.
L., Hultman, M., Shannon, & J., Kathman. “United Nations Peacekeeping and Civilian Protection in Civil War.” American Journal of Political Science, Vol. 57, No. 4, (2013), Pp. 875–891
Major Peacekeeping Operations. “Sierra Leone: A Success Story in Peacekeeping.” Year in Review, (2005).
M., Berdal, & D., Ucko. “The Use of Force in UN Peacekeeping Operations.” The RUSI Journal, Vol 160, no. 1, (2015), pp. 6-12.
Open Society Foundation. The Trial of Charles Taylor before the Special Court for Sierra Leone: the Appeal Judgment. (2013). Retrieved from https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/briefing-papers/trial-charles-taylor-special-court-sierra-leone-appeal-judgment
United Nations, UN. Success in peacekeeping. (2016). Retrieved from http://www.un.org/en/peacekeeping/operations/success.shtml

  1. Mehta, O. Richmond and M., Barber. How effective is the UN in peacekeeping and mediating Conflict? The United Nations and Student Association (UNYSA) of the University of St Andrews, Scotland. (2008).

 
 
[1] M., Berdal, & D., Ucko. “The Use of Force in UN Peacekeeping Operations.” The RUSI Journal, Vol 160, no. 1, (2015), pp. 6-12.
 
[2] United Nations, UN. Success in peacekeeping. (2016).
[3] V. Mehta, O. Richmond, & M., Barber. How effective is the UN in peacekeeping and mediating Conflict? The United Nations and Student Association (UNYSA) of the University of St Andrews, Scotland. (2008).
 
[4] V. Mehta, O. Richmond and M., Barber. How effective is the UN in peacekeeping and mediating Conflict? The United Nations and Student Association (UNYSA) of the University of St Andrews, Scotland. (2008).
 
[5] Major Peacekeeping Operations. “Sierra Leone: A Success Story in Peacekeeping.” Year in Review, (2005).
 
[6] Major Peacekeeping Operations. “Sierra Leone: A Success Story in Peacekeeping.” Year in Review, (2005).
[7] Open Society Foundation. The Trial of Charles Taylor before the Special Court for Sierra Leone: the Appeal Judgment. (2013).
[8] M., Berdal, & D., Ucko. “The Use of Force in UN Peacekeeping Operations.” The RUSI Journal, Vol 160, no. 1, (2015), pp. 6-12.
[9] D. Held and M. Koenig-Archibugi. “Hard Power, Soft Power and Goals of Diplomacy.” American Power in the 21st Century, Vol. 1, No. 1, (2004), pp. 167-180.
[10] K., Beardsley, and K., Gleditsch. “Peacekeeping as Conflict Containment.” International Studies Review, Vol. 17, No. 1, (2015), pp 67–89.
[11] G. Millar. “Our Brothers Who Went to the Bush’: Post-identity Conflict and the Experience of Reconciliation in Sierra Leone.” Journal of Peace Research, Vol. 49, No. 5, (2012), pp. 717-729.
[12] D. Held and M. Koenig-Archibugi. “Hard Power, Soft Power and Goals of Diplomacy.” American Power in the 21st Century, Vol. 1, No. 1, (2004), pp. 167-180.
[13] L., Hultman, M., Shannon, & J., Kathman. “United Nations Peacekeeping and Civilian Protection in Civil War.” American Journal of Political Science, Vol. 57, No. 4, (2013), Pp. 875–891