UN Peacekeeping in Lebanon, Somalia and Kosovo: Operational and Legal Issues in Practice

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Such studies often focus on parti- cular dimensions of peacekeeping in the context of a selected mission or missions; 78 this is the model adopted in this book. Many studies have also tended to place too much emphasis on what is theoretically desir- able, rather than politically and practically possible.

In truth, it is prob- able that there are no denitive criteria to determine the ultimate success of any UN military operation absolutely, and the more complex second- generation multi-dimensional operations are even more problematic in 76 Paul Diehl identied two criteria for evaluating a traditional peacekeeping operation, i. However, this theoretical framework has aws: see the review by R. Johansen in 38 Mershon International Studies Review For an excellent but somewhat dated analysis of this question with respect to the entire UN, see K.

Stiles and M. MacDonald, After Consensus, What?

UN Peacekeeping in Lebanon, Somalia and Kosovo, Operational and Legal Issues in Practice

See also D. Did the operation lead to a resolution of the underlying disputes of the conict?

Did the presence of the operation contribute to the maintenance of international peace and security by reducing or eliminating conict in the area of operation? Rikhye emphasises the importance of the mechanics and logistical dimen- sions of peacekeeping, in particular the role of command and control and the role of the superpowers in a peacekeeping operations success: Rikhye, The Politics and Practice of United Nations Peacekeeping, pp.

In the latter case, it may be possible to evaluate the extent to which a cease-re was maintained, but multi-dimensional operations require analysis from a number of perspectives. Nevertheless, a useful means of providing a framework to evaluate the performance of a force is to apply factors identied as essential for its success. First, it must at all times have the full condence and backing of the Security Council.

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View Un Peacekeeping In Lebanon Somalia And Kosovo Operational And Legal Issues In Practice

Secondly, it must operate with the full co-operation of all the parties concerned. Thirdly, it must be able to function as an integrated and efcient military unit. Using these factors as criteria, chapter 2 focuses on the establishment and deployment of the UN forces in Lebanon, Somalia and Kosovo. The chapter explains how the back- ground inuenced the outcome of the operations, highlights the central role played by the United States throughout, and contends that the lack of support from the permanent members of the Security Council, especially the United States, undermined the political base and viability of each of the operations from the beginning.

In the case of Lebanon, the mandate adopted was controversial and was considered to be decient in a number of respects.


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While UNIFIL was deployed with undue haste against the advice of many commenta- tors at the time, its survival should not be seen as a reection on the appropriateness of the mandate. The UN operations in Somalia were more ambitious in comparison and involved signicantly more resources. Initially at least, they were also less controversial. The con- sensus and enthusiasm for involvement in Somalia changed quickly as mission creep set in and doubts were expressed about the efcacy of UN policy there. Problems encoun- tered at the international level often have their origins in the national policy of contributing states, and legal issues in relation to Ireland and Canada are discussed in this context.

In theory, the command structure of such forces is straightforward, but in reality it is fraught with dif- culties arising from subjective human factors and objective legal con- straints. It is a fundamental issue upon which the success of the mission may largely depend. Each operation examined highlights the serious difculties that arise in the command of UN-authorised or -approved missions, with the larger, more complex UNOSOM II and Kosovo missions presenting signicant dilemmas in this regard.

Perhaps the greatest challenge faced in this area relates to the establishment of a satisfactory arrangement that translates into an effective chain of com- mand for the proper management of all components of the operation, both civil and military. Unless the Security Council has specically delegated command to a particular country, no one government should effectively control a UN operation.

The most controversial aspect of recent UN operations has been the policy employed with regard to the use of force, a fundamental deter- minant of the nature of any peacekeeping operation. Despite their differing natures, the operations in Lebanon, Somalia and Kosovo pre- sent remarkably similar problems in this regard. Hurdles were encoun- tered in each mission when it came to the creation and adoption of appropriate rules of engagement ROE and, later still, when those rules were applied, due to inconsistent interpretations as to when, and to what degree, the use of force is warranted in a UN multi-national operation.

Devising appropriate ROE remains a key issue in the planning and deployment of any multi-national force. The premise of the analysis is that strict adherence to the principle of self- defence is the only option available in traditional peacekeeping oper- ations. Furthermore, the nature of the UNOSOM II mission meant that the coercive enforcement measures adopted inevitably led to its role as a third-party UN force being converted to that of factional participant.

If a force is not trained and prepared to protect the minority population in places such as Kosovo, then legitimate questions may be asked as to why it is there in the rst place. Chapter 5 examines the applicability and relevance of international humanitarian law IHL and international human rights law to all types of military action undertaken by or on behalf of the UN.

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Linked to this is the issue of the appropriate course of action for UN forces confronted with a situation wherein a party to the conict perpe- trates serious violations of international human rights and IHL against innocent third parties. Experiences in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia and more recently in Kosovo exposed the UN as a paper tiger and saw UN troops relegated to the role of bystander while gross violations took place before their very eyes.

The UN has maintained that peacekeepers should not be placed in positions where they are forced into the role of witness or bystanders to serious violations of human rights or IHL. The question, then, is whether there is a legal duty on UN forces to intervene in such circumstances, and if so when and how. Even the less contro- versial traditional peacekeeping missions can involve important issues of IHL, especially when the situation that UNIFIL found itself in after the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in is considered.

Decision to create a Kosovo army have "deteriorated relations" with Serbia - UN peacekeeping chief

The UN system was designed carefully to make war illegal and unne- cessary, and nowhere in Chapter VII, and Article 42 in particular, is war mentioned. The obvious implication of this is that military action taken by the UN is not to be regarded as war, and this was the commonly accepted view of the UN action in Korea. While there appears to be no record of the UN ever claiming that IHL does not apply to operations authorised by or undertaken on behalf of the Organization, the issues raised are complex and the policy of the UN remains ambivalent.

It is also contrary to the terms and spirit of Security Council Resolution which requires gender mainstreaming in UN peace initiatives and provides for a comprehensive framework to this effect. The privileges and immunities enjoyed by UN personnel, although intended to protect the interests of the UN and not individuals, may have contributed to the numbers of UN personnel involved at various levels in such activities.

Amnesty International has repeatedly raised concerns about instances in which individual peacekeeping forces led by NATO in Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina have failed to adhere to international human rights law and standards when detaining suspects. Amnesty attributed this to a lack of accountability and civilian control. Mechanisms to address these problems must be put in place immediately.

These are important issues confronting todays peacekeepers, most especially those participating in the so-called robust peacekeeping operations similar to that of UNOSOM II and Kosovo. While none of the existing conventions or protocols addresses the specic issue of UN forces, or forces acting on the authority of the UN, in situations of armed conict, it could be said that this situation leaves military forces acting under the control of the UN in somewhat of a limbo.

Human rights are a fundamental issue in guaranteeing effective peacekeeping. Castermans, F. Smith eds. Many contemporary conicts do not involve soldiers from regular armies but militias or groups of armed civilians with little discipline and an ill-dened command structure.

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Fighters of this nature do not always t within the dened status of combatant under IHL. Despite the dangers involved, the international community and the UN have a responsibility not to shy away from complex and dangerous situations.


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  • Esoteric debates on legal principles have a value, but they should not be allowed to detract from the establishment and deploy- ment of peacekeeping operations as facilitators of conict resolution. Apart from deciding on an appropriate and authoritative mandate, the real issue is who will decide when these forces will be deployed and their subsequent command and control. In this regard the role of the Security Council is vital, especially for middle and small powers like Ireland.

    It also failed to address the issues associated with regional peace- keepers or coalitions of the willing acting under the authority of the UN. As Adam Roberts observed in relation to humanitarian intervention: A curious problem in much past writing about humanitarian interven- tion has been a lack of any systematic attention to what the intervening armed forces are actually supposed to do, and also what the eventual results of the intervention are supposed to be.

    In a follow-up to Brahimi, the Security Council adopted Resolution of 13 November , which stated that the Council [u]ndertakes to ensure that the mandated tasks of peace operations are appropriate to the situation on the ground, including such factors as the prospects of success, the potential need to protect civilians, and the possibility that some parties may seek to undermine peace through violence Annex II.

    Often it appears that all the energy is expended on nding some form of agreement to deploy in the rst instance, with too little attention paid to what the operation will achieve and how this will be accomplished in the long term. Somalia shows that robust ROE and increased size are not enough and, while it is imperative not to employ an emasculated UN force, the UN operations in Somalia, Lebanon and Kosovo demonstrate that it is essential to have a clear military and political strategy agreed at the outset.

    Its survival in what were often difcult circumstances is testi- mony to the professionalism of those charged with implementing the mandate, rather than reective of the merit of the mandate itself. By contrast, the UN operations in Somalia were bolder, more costly and, initially, less contentious. In Kosovo, the response of the international community arose from the aftermath of an eleven-week NATO air campaign against Yugoslav and Serbian security forces.

    Although a relatively small geographical area, this province of Serbia formerly the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia 1 presented a range of complex problems that exist to this day, especially in relation to the question of its future status. As in the case of Somalia, it is difcult to ascertain any national interest or motivation in intervening.

    The situation that arose in Kosovo during also demonstrated the powerlessness of the UN. Ensuring compliance with Security Council resolutions can be problematic at any time, but in this instance neither China nor Russia was willing to authorise the use of force against Serbia. This is the Achilles heel in the UN system of collective security.

    Prof Ray Murphy

    Under the new Constitutional Charter, Kosovo and Metohija ofcially remain a province of the state of Serbia. Montenegro declared independence in June Factors inuencing the decision to intervene When the Lebanese civil war was at its height during and , serious efforts were made to determine the feasibility and value of establishing a UN peacekeeping force for the country.

    Ultimately, how- ever, no such force was established after strong reservations were expressed regarding its practicality in what was essentially a civil war situation. Similar reservations were later raised with regard to UN intervention in Somalia, with the added dimension that Somalia was of no strategic importance to the members of the Security Council. There were also nancial considerations, and substantial resistance at rst from the United States and Russia to plans for a more proactive UN policy in Somalia, as both countries were in considerable arrears in peacekeeping accounts even before the operation began.

    In both Lebanon and Somalia, the actual decision to intervene was taken against a background of ongoing civil war and a state imploding on itself. The situation in Kosovo in was unique, and, while not a civil war as such, the political vacuum created by the Serb withdrawal and the aftermath of ethnic cleansing left a traumatised population and a deva- stated province.

    The Balkans continued to be a powder keg that could be ignited by a spark from what many observers might otherwise have deemed to be a storm in a teacup. However, a failure to deal with atrocities and their aftermath also undermined the democratic values of those that looked on and did nothing.

    There was also the humani- tarian imperative presented by the situation in Kosovo, reference to which had already been made in a number of Security Council resolu- tions, notably , and In this context, the major player was not a direct party to the conict, but the United States whose role in each conict studied proves crucial, but for different reasons. In the case of Lebanon, the real agenda was the Middle East peace process, yet in Somalia it is difcult to discern any ulterior motive apart from recognising and living up to its responsibilities as a major power, and a desire to rebuild the institutions of state in a war-torn society.

    Though the policy of replicating Western democratic values in east Africa should not be underestimated, humanitarian disaster was the pri- mary motivation for the UN and the United States major post-Cold War intervention in Somalia. But the Cold War had helped to shape the crisis that led to UN intervention in The after- math of the inter-clan ghting had left it without any semblance of a state, and with no one party or clan that could conveniently be treated as the legitimate government in order to provide the UN with the consent required for the deployment of a traditional Chapter VI peacekeeping force.

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    This left the Organization with a number of serious dilemmas, one of the more signicant of which was with whom to negotiate. After the attempt to deploy a peacekeeping force failed, the conse- quent intervention planned for Somalia had no clear precedent in UN 4 Security Council Doc. See K. Whittinghams report, Middle East International, No.

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