for U.N. Peace Operations is Growing
Human Financial Costs of Peace Operations are Exploding
The U.N.'s Mandate for Involvement is Broadening
The Complexity of Operations is Increasing
Delegation of Responsibility is Becoming the Norm
The post-Cold War international security environment has led the U.N. to take on expanded responsibilities for which it has not been properly organized or fully prepared. Prior to 1988, the U.N. confined most of its peacekeeping activities to conflict resolution interventions between states, which typically involved dispatching truce observers or interposing U.N. forces between contending armies once a cease-fire had been negotiated. During this period, extending from 1948 to 1988, thirteen operations were undertaken. Such operations were based on the premise that peacekeeping was an impartial, consent-based activity.
The U.N. has since been requested to undertake a wide range of new, highly challenging missions, including:
Much of the U.N.'s burden stems from the need to devote huge resources to the crisis of failed states. The U.N. estimates that nine more failed political systems may join Liberia, Somalia, Rwanda, and the former Yugoslavia in the next few years.
The demands placed on the U.N. are reflected in the number and geographic reach of operations--UNIKOM along the Iraq-Kuwait border, MINURSO in the Western Sahara, UNPROFOR in former Yugoslavia, UNOSOM II in Somalia, and many more. The strain on U.N. resources has been severe. The organization has been called upon to deploy over 70,000 military personnel in various field operations. U.N. Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, surveying the 17 operations that the U.N. was undertaking in mid-year 1994, was compelled to note that the U.N. was at "system overload."
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The increase in peacekeeping activities has generated rising operational costs with respect to budgets and personnel. Financial costs have risen spectacularly. For example, the annual budget for traditional peace missions was $439 million in 1982-83; by 1986-87, it had risen to $819 million; in 1992-93, it stood at $3.6 billion. Each new mission is now started from scratch; the Secretary General must, in effect, solicit contributions each time a mission is deployed or expanded. Delays in financing the start-up costs of new peacekeeping missions have been met by borrowing funds from other accounts. The U.S. was $1 billion in arrears and, as of mid-1994, Congress had refused to allocate $300 million for a special Department of Defense FY 1995 funding request for peace operations. While the 1994 assessment was fully paid in October 1994, U.S. arrears were expected to be $700 million. The whole question of the U.S. government's financial contributuion to the U.N. is certain to come up for review in the next sesion of Congress, with the new majority already on record with a critical perspective. Other important donors such as Russia and Spain also have been deeply in arrears.
Insertion of civilian and military personnel into hostile environments has led to greater risks and, in recent years, to a dramatic rise in casualties. Over the period 1948-88, approximately 800 U.N. military personnel were lost, some through accidents and misadventures unattributable to hostilities. By comparison, in the former Yugoslavia and Somalia alone, over 200 deaths were reported by late 1994 as a result of local conflict situations, and the figure is rising. Indeed, the U.N. reports that deaths in November 1994 were at the rate of one every two days. In the former Yugoslavia, Britain, France, and Ukraine accounted for the largest number of casualties; in Somalia, it was the U.S., Pakistan, and Nigeria. These casualties have led several countries that traditionally have supplied personnel for peacekeeping missions to review their policies and to develop a more guarded approach toward sending their forces into conflict situations.
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Through the 1980s the view had prevailed that international law did not permit intervention in a state to save .citizens from their own rulers. The Gulf War weakened this conviction. After Iraqi forces were driven from Kuwait by the U.S. and its allies, Baghdad turned its fury on rebellious Kurd and Shiite populations in northern and southern Iraq, respectively. More than two million Kurds were forced to flee. The U.N. Security Council responded by adopting Resolution 699, which condemned Baghdad's repression of its civilian population and characterized its actions as a threat to international peace and security in the region. Coalition forces were mobilized to provide a secure environment for Kurds in northern Iraq and to provide humanitarian assistance, and Iraqi troops and aircraft were forbidden from entering protected zones.
The U.N. Secretary General, in his 1992 report, An Agenda for Peace, suggested that the U.N. may be compelled to intervene in the domestic affairs of member states in some circumstances, most notably when there is a breakdown of governing authority, when domestic turmoil is accompanied by displaced populations or gross violations of human rights, or when developments within a state pose a threat to international peace and stability.
In August 1994, Security Council Resolution 940 authorized the adoption of "all necessary measures" by member states to secure the removal of the military rulers of Haiti and to restore President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to the office from which he had been deposed by a military coup. On September 23, U.S. forces entered Haiti and the Haitian military stepped aside shortly thereafter. This success, without U.S. casualties, helped to offset in part at least negative impressions created by the Somalia operation.
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The existing international security environment has presented challenges that far exceed the bounds of traditional U.N. peace operations. The organization is grappling with:
The complexity of contemporary peace operations also arises from the number of non-military personnel and agencies involved in such U.N. operations. At the end of April 1994, over 9,921 civilians were serving in field missions: 1,264 as civilian police, 2,550 as international staff, 4,717 hired locally in operational mission zones, and 1,390 other civilian staff. These individuals served in job categories ranging from senior leadership positions to administrative support, and come from agencies ranging from UNHCR, UNDP, UNICEF, and the World Food Program to UNESCO. The effective integration of these different U.N. agencies and organizations with the political and military components is a major problem facing U.N. peace operations.
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With the proliferation of conflict situations, the U.N. leadership has sought to share responsibilities with regional organizations and to encourage the formation of ad hoc coalitions. For example, in the Rwanda crisis of 1994, the Organization of African Unity (OAU) was requested to form a military force of 5,500 men to intervene and restore order. However, the OAU deferred to the U.N., which organized a small contingent. Similarly, the United States was authorized to organize a multinational force to intervene in Haiti. The U.N. Secretary General appears to have extended recognition to the Commonwealth of Independent States as a regional organization, tacitly accepting Russian troop involvement in neighboring republics of the former Soviet Union.
Some sub-regional groupings such as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in West Africa and ASEAN in southeast Asia have potential that requires strengthening. Others, such as the OAU and the OAS, have an established history of diplomatic intervention and mediation. However, the complexity of new crisis situations calls for the development of new intervention capabilities. Further, regional organizations have distinct limits based on resources, politics, and organizational factors. In the case of Europe, for example, regional organizations overlap in stated missions and purposes, leading to confusion and necessitating closer integration or at least consensus on an appropriate division of labor.