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Post Cold War

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After the cold war, the United Nations peacekeeping practices have undergone many changes. During the cold war the deployments usually operated under the ideology of unbiased, non-forcible intervention with the permission of the conflicting parties. As a result, the United Nations principles have been under -increased strain with the United Nations performance coming under severe criticism. The United Nations has been seen to act to gain credibility rather than address the needs in the world. For example the United Nations assisted in fewer activities in the Bosnian war and also over involved itself with Somalia. The concern coming from peacekeeping, which arose from the   experience in Somalia, has been under review, favoring new methods that try to find a stronger approach with a greater capacity for peace building (Voeten, 2005).

After the cold war the first mission unequivocally labeled as a ‚peacekeeping mission was the UN Emergency Force (UNEFI). This mission was sent to the Sinai Peninsula in rejoinder to the 1956 Suez Crisis to foresee the withdrawal of the British and Israeli forces from the Egyptian territory. As the first armed force to the UN, UNEFI was an important example for other UN missions in the future. The first mission also served as a case study for armed and neutral forces working to restrain conflict. The mission was successful in its objectives since it led to establishment of asset of principles which have served as important guidelines for future missions (Frieden, 2009).

The principles derived were as follows    

• The mission should have assent by the parties to the dispute.

• Avoiding the use of force except for cases of self defense;

• The force should comprise of intentional assistance of contingents from small, non-partisan countries.

• The united nation should be impartial

• The peacekeeping operations must be controlled by the Secretary General.

During the Cold War, 13 peacekeeping operations were created. The mission’s one and only function was to keep an eye on borders and establish buffer zones after cease-fires agreements. From late 1980s to 1994, the peacekeeping missions undertaken worldwide dramatically increased. At the commencement of 1988, there were only five operations which were actively involved in the field, that is three in the Middle East, the Kashmir mission, and the UN Peacekeeping Force located in Cyprus (UNFICYP) (Voeten, 2005).

This noteworthy increase in the number of the peacekeeping operations was accompanied by essential changes in their nature and in their composition. The single function that was associated with the UN traditional operations evolved into a variety of tasks as the variety of tasks increased, the composition of peacekeeping operations after the cold war became diverse and complex with peacekeepers being drawn from wider varieties of occupation (that is the military, civilian police and diplomats), nations and cultures. Modern peacekeeping can be fittingly characterized as bilateral, multidimensional, global and multicultural. All deployments after 1988 are redefined under new military doctrines which sought to explain the principles under which they operate. The missions after 1988 are referred to as multidimensional operations due to their wide variety of activities.             

As  peacekeeping activities  diversified notably in recent past as they strove to adapt to the new tasks and various challenges, the context and environment in which the missions are deployed have also become  complex. Even though various exceptions such as ONUC in DRC Congo and UNIFIL in Lebanon, the peacekeeping operations created before the 1990s operated in permissive environments only where they had the permission and support of host governments (Voeten, 2005).

In the 1990s, various missions’ have been deployed to solve internal wars or provide humanitarian assistance in complex political emergencies. In such situations the UN is forced to work under the conditions of lawlessness and violence, where militias act autonomously. In such cases the UN agencies are often opposed and confronted by the militia. This occurred as a result the  United Nations principles of neutrality and the unifying role .This failure to stop loss of human life’s greatly affected the credibility of the United Nations with fewer countries willing to work with the united nations in future since they were viewed as inferior and could not contain major crisis  arising. In the Somalia war the United Nations wanted to restore its lost name hence resulted to massive force. This resulted to loss of the war since the military operation was guided by sinister motives (Frieden, 2009).

The United Nations has been blamed for selective involvement in various wars and only works when there is global pressure to see the United Nations prove its might in conflict resolution and peacekeeping. This has further been coupled by damning criticism that the United Nations was an institution being used by the western world to spread neocolonialism. However the United Nations remains the only organization capable of providing humanitarian aid as well as military activities in the whole world.

There in the current past has been the development of the doctrines to ensure that the military involvement in humanitarian assistance was boosted. The United Nations aim is to avoid failure in protecting civilians as seen in Bosnia and Rwanda and to ensure adequate self-defense measures for peacekeeping forces and UN staff .The United Nations supporting nations resolved not to send their personnel to missions where they are inadequately equipped to handle (Voeten, 2005).

Why UN was involved in some occasions not others.

There have been substantial changes both in the practice and concept of United Nation (UN) peacekeeping since the end of the Cold War. Deployment during the cold war for example was based on the principles of impartial, non-forcible intervention. There had to be consent from the conflicting parties. There also had to the precondition of an agreed peace. After the cold war however, the peace keeping missions have been carried out on the context of internal wars (Sambanis, 2004).

This change in tactic has subjected the UN’s performance in the latest missions to severe criticism. The big question is why it would it do so little in countries like Bosnia and Darfur and so much in other countries. Why is it that some interventions are too little too late, poorly resourced, poorly executed and misconceived like in Somalia, Rwanda and Bosnia.

Although such criticisms have lead to an overhaul in the UN peace keeping operations, this section seeks to establish why the UN was involved in some peace keeping operations and not others. Why we there delayed involvement in some peace keeping missions and not in others. It also seeks to point out clearly whether there are limitations as far as UN military interventions mechanisms are concerned.

The overhaul of the UN’s approach to peace keeping and peace keeping has made its structure to allow very little room for effective military intervention. Partly, this is because the UN does not support quick and decisive action. There are always varying institutional structures that do get in the way. The Security Council’s permanent members for example can do undermine intervention. In addition to that, intervention is always politically costly, thus the actors especially the Veto powers have an incentive to avoid it (Bannon, 2006).

A new lens through which peace keeping is viewed has also been conceived in the condos of UN’s intervention strategies. This is the concept of called Responsibility to Protect. It asserts that the international community has the obligation to intervene in a state if and only if the state clearly fails to protect its citizens from mass atrocities and also when the peaceful measures are not working (Voeten, 2005).

The first intervention would be in a diplomatic manner, then more coercively, and as a last resort into using military force. It is within this lens that the UN reacts to any conflict or not. It is a sort of selection bias in terms of cases that have a high number of deaths or that are ethnic or religious. The challenge is how to determine the exact point when a state has failed to protect its citizens. This explains why the UN has not reacted towards many conflicts or why it has delayed too many conflicts. This contravenes the concept of the right to intervene. Lastly, the reason why the UN does not respond to other conflicts is inadequacy of troops. The major western economies should consider contributing more troops to UN peacekeeping missions in such situations (Frieden, 2009).

How they changed after that period external and Internal

The mandate of peacekeeping shifted dramatically after the cold war. After the cold war the mandates and range of activities for peacekeepers expanded exponentially. The peacekeepers today help promote human rights, build government institutions, set up local police forces, and disarm former combatants. Before then, their role was limited to maintaining ceasefires and stabilizing violence in order to make diplomatic solutions more reachable. The UN peacekeeping shifted dramatically from inter-state conflicts to intra-state conflicts and civil wars in the 1990’s. This is because of the ever present internal struggle for power over territorial control in many of the warring countries (Regan, 2000).

Besides, under the various security systems, when disputes arise between two nations, the concerned parties are required to first seek an amicable solution by peaceful means. This is according to Chapter VI of the UN Charter on peace keeping. The peace is to be sought mainly by squaring off, concession, mediation, peaceful settlement or resort to regional agencies. The 7th chapter of the UN Charter comes into action if the peaceful means fall short and the dispute continues into an armed conflict. This chapter asserts that in the case of a menace to the peace, violation of the peace or an act of belligerence the Security Council may take relevant measures to restore peace. These measures are for all intents and purposes complete or partial economic sanctions, separation of diplomatic relations and arms embargoes (The United Nations Charter, 1945).


As there are chances that the UN is more likely to send a peacekeeping mission to a smaller and richer country, there are also chances that it is more likely to intervene in a longer and bloodier war. A selection bias would be important because in all the cases there is public outcry and international pressure for the United Nations to get involved in ending a civil war.

If the UN intervention has no effect on post-conflict recovery and democratization, then the energy, money, and political resources needed to enact a UN peacekeeping mission would be better not spent. 

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