Peace Operations and Humanitarian Support

Instruments: Conflict Prevention and Peacemaking
Expanded Peacekeeping and Peace Enforcement
Humanitarian Support Operations


Peace operations is a subset of the broader category of operations other than war (OOTW). It refers to a form of military intervention short of full-scale war, in support of diplomatic actions, and conducted by, or with the endorsement of, a collective security organization in order to maintain or restore stability to a region or a state. In addition to "defusing and resolving international conflicts," as proclaimed by Presidential Decision Directive 25, Reforming Multilateral Peace Operations (PDD 25), peace operations also address civil strife and humanitarian crises within individual states.

This study discusses four distinct instruments or capabilities: 1) peacemaking and conflict prevention; 2) peacekeeping;
3) expanded peacekeeping and peace enforcement; and 4) humanitarian operations. The taxonomy of peace operations is organized according to a combination of four pivotal factors: the breadth of the mandate or rules of engagement; the presence or absence of an accord among the disputants; the degree to which the operating environment for the peace force is characterized by basic consent or by armed opposition; and the size and complexity of the mission. This chapter does not discuss major conflicts such as Korea (1950) or the Persian Gulf (1991), even though they were endorsed by the U.N. Security Council. This chapter also excludes unilateral U.S. operations, such as Lebanon in 1958 and Grenada in 1983, where there was no international endorsement.

Since the late 1980s, many peace operations have combined traditional military and diplomatic activities with humanitarian support for civilian populations conducted by military units, usually to save lives and alleviate suffering on a large scale. Such support can entail conducting, assisting, or safeguarding the delivery of food and medical supplies; protecting civilian populations; and so forth. Humanitarian support operations have also been conducted by the armed forces alone, independent of other actors. These have taken place in various sizes, under various mandates, in both permissive and hostile environments.

On occasion (e.g., Somalia and Bosnia), the protection of humanitarian activities by peacekeeping forces has evolved into peace enforcement on a large scale. For these reasons, humanitarian support is discussed as a separate category. Nation assistance or peace-building activities--disarmament of factions, conduct of elections, rebuilding of local administration, and other measures to strengthen a weakened or collapsed state--have also been frequently incorporated. However, they will not be discussed as a separate instrument since they have not been conducted independently of other operations. Moreover, most are performed by civilian specialists, although the U.S. military has on occasion contributed civil or military expertise and other specialized skills.

Between 1945 and 1988, there were thirteen U.N. peace operations, limited mostly to the Middle East and aimed at discouraging the renewal of conflict after a cease-fire between hostile states. The Middle East actions took place with the blessing of both the United States and the Soviet Union, both of whom wished to avoid escalation that might precipitate unwanted great power confrontation. Most other proposals for U.N. action ran into Soviet veto power, thus severely limiting the number of peace operations. Few U.S. military personnel and no U.S. units participated.

Between 1988 and 1995, there were some twenty-six new and separate peace operations authorized and commanded by the U.N. Starting in 1987-88, a positive attitude emerged in Moscow toward both U.N. peacekeeping and cooperation with Washington in resolving regional conflicts. The ensuing cooperation produced a much more assertive approach by the U.S. and key U.N. members toward peace operations. In addition, the United States organized, outside the formal U.N. framework, two major coalition peace operations (Restore Hope in Somalia and Uphold Democracy in Haiti) as well as a more limited multinational mission (Provide Comfort in Iraq). France and Russia also organized and led peace operations outside the U.N. framework but with its concurrence: France in Rwanda in 1994, and Russia in Georgia and Tajikistan in 1994-95 (using the CIS). In addition, involvement of regional and subregional organizations in peacekeeping increased markedly during this period (e.g. OAS in Haiti, NATO in Bosnia, OAU in Burundi, ECOWAS in Liberia).

As a result, the U.S. military has become heavily involved in peace operations around the globe, both through direct participation and as a source of transportation, logistical support, and equipment. As of end-September 1995, 3,239 U.S. military personnel were part of U.N. operations, according to U.N. definitions. Twenty-thousand U.S. military personnel were being dispatched to Bosnia as part of a NATO peace operation. The participation of U.S. military units in post-Cold War peace operations qualitatively boosted multilateral effectiveness. U.S. C3I capabilities and experience in managing coalitions have proven to be major assets in planning and coordinating multilateral operations, and valuable specialties--such as civil affairs, psychological operations, special forces, engineering, and advanced logistics (including tactical and strategic airlift)--have been contributed by the U.S. Few other military establishments can provide such assets to the U.N. When there has been danger of conflict, U.S. combat units participating in U.N. peace operations have remained under the operational command and control of U.S. senior officers, as in Somalia and Haiti. On occasion, for temporary duty, U.S. military personnel are under operational or tactical control of other military commanders, including NATO.

In keeping with the growth of operations, the number of U.N. peacekeeping personnel increased from 8,000 in 1988 to some 62,500 in 1995, and assessments for U.N. peace operations rose from approximately $200 million in 1988 to $3 billion in 1995. (Moreover, these figures do not cover the costly, U.S.-led operations in Iraq, Somalia, and Haiti.)

Starting in 1994, however, the U.N. and U.S. both adopted a more cautious attitude. Haiti, Angola, and Tajikistan were the only new U.N. peacekeeping missions undertaken in 1994-95, along with the reinforcement of the U.N. Protection Force in the former Yugolsavia (UNPROFOR) and the creation of the NATO-led implementation Force (IFOR) in Bosnia. No new expanded peacekeeping operations were authorized, and six earlier operations were completed or terminated, including expanded ones in Cambodia and Somalia and medium-size missions in El Salvador and Mozambique; UNPROFOR was scheduled to end in late 1995. Simultaneously, a strong movement arose in Congress favoring a drastic reduction in U.S. contributions and support for future U.N. peace operations, as well as tight limits on the use of U.S. forces. The backlash generated by the failed mission in Somalia, the agonizing dilemmas of the operation in Bosnia, and the need for deep cuts in the overall U.S. budget generated serious concerns over the utility of U.N. peacekeeping and made it an inviting political target. The Clinton administration has favored tighter restrictions upon the UN but opposed drastic cuts and overly restrictive constraints, and argued for the continued utility of selective, more effective, and usually less costly peace operations. At the same time, it assisted in substantial improvements in the peacekeeping capabilities of the U.N. Secretariat, particularly in the areas of logistics, planning, and C3I.

Number of Major Peace Operations

Repeated use of this rapidly evolving instrument of national policy has confronted military thinkers with a host of nettlesome doctrinal, training, financial, and operational issues, while policymakers have been forced to grapple with an array of novel political and diplomatic challenges. According to Congressional Research Service data, the cost to the U.S. for peacekeeping jumped in FY 1995 to approximately $1.5 billion in incremental operating costs and $1.2 billion in contributions to the U.N. peacekeeping budget, as well as $680 million in humanitarian aid more or less associated with the crises that led to the peacekeeping operations. The need for effective interagency as well as international coordination has become more important as civilian functions and agencies--including scores of private voluntary organizations--have been integrated with military forces in peace operations. Managing the interaction and interdependence of political, military, humanitarian, and economic activities is an essential element for success.


Conflict Prevention and Peacemaking

Intended to forestall the outbreak of hostilities or to facilitate resolution of an armed dispute, conflict prevention and peacemaking missions are conducted with strict impartiality, almost always with approval of the disputants. They are comprised of primarily diplomats and other civilians, including humanitarian workers, human rights monitors, etc. Limited numbers of military personnel, usually unarmed, often assist in liaison with the belligerents, implementing confidence-building measures orarranging a cease-fire. A recent innovation in this category of peace operations, known as preventive deployment, stations lightly armed troops as a trip-wire to deter the spread of conflict. The only example of this, to date, is Macedonia, where some 1,000 U.N. military observers (half from the U.S.) have contributed to deterring a spill-over of hostilities from Bosnia or Croatia.

During the Cold War, prevailing U.N. practice and Soviet opposition restricted the number of U.N. peacemaking missions. With the exception of the Congo in the early 1960s, the U.N. avoided addressing domestic unrest. Since the end of the Cold War, the Security Council has been increasingly
inclined to approve peace operations. Since 1995, the U.N. Secretary General has been able to authorize conflict prevention missions on his own initiative. Most of the new operations have been explicitly concerned with internal conflicts.

As a result, the United Nations has undertaken scores of conflict prevention or peacemaking missions, (mostly initiatives by the Secretary General) and demands for military personnel to assist these diplomatic activities have also increased. Since 1989, such operations have been conducted in Afghanistan, Angola, Western Sahara, Rwanda, Somalia, and the Aouzou strip in Chad. These missions generally involved domestic rather than interstate conflict (except for Afghanistan and the Aouzou strip). The mandates essentially involved monitoring cease-fires, movements of forces, and weapons deployments. Several carried additional objectives: registering voters and supervising a referendum on the disputed territory in Western Sahara; protecting the delivery of relief supplies in Somalia; and assisting with a cease-fire, demobilization, and election in Angola. Operations in Georgia and Tajikistan by the CIS and in Liberia by ECOWAS had U.N. observers assigned to them.

Mission results have been mixed, determined primarily by the willingness of warring parties to pursue peace and honor the agreements reached. Clear and realistic mission objectives, a good comprehension of the local political situation, adequate resources, and strong outside political support from key states also contributed to success. In the Bosnian, Somalian and Rwandan cases, local disputants were not sufficiently receptive to international mediation, and the peace forces lacked the power, cohesion, and will to bring an end to those conflicts. The same was true in Liberia for five years. On the other hand, Libyan troops did withdraw from Aouzou, as did Soviet troops from Afghanistan, facilitated by U.N. observers. The first Angola mission failed due to inadequate understanding of the local situation, an undermanned U.N. mission, an unrealistic timetable, and continued differences between the two disputants. A subsequent mission successfully corrected these deficiencies.

The United States has provided political, logistical, and financial support to almost all these conflict prevention/peacemaking operations and on occasion has also contributed a small number of military observers. Despite mixed results, Washington has regarded such operations as a useful, low-cost means of collectively pursuing secondary interests. Governments and non-governmental organizations are directing a great deal of attention to developing a rapid-response capability for quickly mobilizing trained, multinational teams of diplomatic, humanitarian, and military personnel in response to international crises. This capability could increase the effectiveness of efforts at prevention or containment, thus avoiding much larger and more costly security and humanitarian problems if crises continue unchecked.


Peacekeeping operations occur after disputants have achieved a tentative resolution to their conflict, whether international or intrastate. In such missions, impartial military observers verify implementation of a cease-fire or monitor the separation of forces. The number and success of these operations have increased substantially since the end of the Cold War, as has the operations' complexity. Recent peacekeeping operations have frequently involved some aspects of peace-building, as well as support for humanitarian operations.

Prior to 1989, U.N. peacekeeping missions were limited to observing and patrolling demilitarized zones and force-limitation zones, and monitoring cease-fire agreements. Such operations had mixed results. The 1956 mission in the Sinai helped prevent war for a decade but was compelled to withdraw at Egypt's insistence in 1967, powerless to prevent another Arab-Israeli war. A subsequent Sinai mission in 1973 facilitated the successful transition to the Camp David peace treaty in 1979. The Golan mission has helped Israel and Syria avoid even a single incident since it was constituted at U.S. instigation in 1974. On the other hand, the operation in South Lebanon, begun in 1972, proved impotent to prevent conflict. Its continued presence follows the Security Council's judgment that the situation would be even more volatile if it were withdrawn. This is also true for the Cyprus operation, which began in 1964, was upset by a major war in 1974, and continues at a lower level of force and expectation.

In 1962, a U.N. General Assembly action created a Unique Temporary Executive Authority for West New Guinea to avoid an impending war. It successfully provided security and an interim administration for the territory, turning it over to Indonesia after seven months and organizing "an expression of popular opinion" on the future. This prefigured the more complex and challenging sort of peacekeeping operation that has arisen in the post-Cold War period.

Troop Conributions to U.N. Peace-Keeping Operations as of September 30, 1995

Source: U.N.

Note: Based on U.N. records. The U.S. uses a different definition of which of its troops are part of U.N. peacekeeping operations.

Outside of the formal U.N. framework, the Israel-Egypt peace treaty established the Multinational Force and Observer (MFO) mission for the Sinai in 1981. With some 2,000 personnel from eleven countries (about half from the United States) and an annual budget of $50 million, it is still in existence. Its usefulness is illustrated by the absence of subsequent incidents in the Sinai. In 1982-85, the U.S., Italy, and France undertook a multinational operation to calm the situation in Lebanon. It was successful in 1982, but crossing the line between impartiality and partisanship in 1983 led to extensive U.S. casualties. U.S. and other forces subsequently withdrew.

In late 1989, a peacekeeping operation was deployed in Nicaragua to monitor a cease-fire, verify the concentration of Contra guerrillas in security zones and the concurrent concentration of the Nicaraguan army, and oversee Contra disarmament and demobilization. The number of sea, air, and ground observers gradually decreased from 1,200 in early 1990 to 300-400 during 1991. By June 1990, most of the 22,000 Contra personnel had been demobilized, and the Nicaraguan army had disengaged. Elections were held, and the operation was officially terminated in January 1992.

A separate U.N. peacekeeping operation for El Salvador was established in 1991, involving some 1,000 personnel. Its tasks were to monitor respect for human rights, the separation of combatants, demobilization of Soviet- and Cuban-backed guerrilla forces, restructuring of the Salvadoran military and police forces, and the conduct of elections, as stipulated in the Chapultepec accords. Also successful in achieving its aims, the operation was terminated in 1995.

Several Iraq-related U.N. operations were established in 1991 stemming from the Gulf War, including a peacekeeping mission with some 1,000 lightly armed military personnel that continues to monitor the Iraq-Kuwait border and demilitarized zone against hostile Iraqi actions. A smaller operation demarcated the border to the satisfaction of Kuwait and disbanded.

In Mozambique, a larger and more complex peacekeeping force of between 5,000 and 7,000 personnel (ONUMOZ) was established in December 1992. Its mandate was to monitor the cease-fire between government and guerrilla forces, verify the subsequent separation and demobilization of forces, oversee elections, and facilitate the return of refugees. Its annual budget was some $250 million. The original implementation period was lengthened to provide more time to accomplish its tasks and to persuade the warring parties to respect both their previous agreements and future election results (including certain prior understandings on power sharing). The peacekeeping operation was successfully completed in December 1994. By August 1995, more than 1.7 million refugees had returned with the assistance of the U.N. High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and PVOs.

Major World Peacekeeping Operations

U.N. Operations:

1. U.N. Truce Supervision (UNTSO).
Mission: Supervise the observance of the truce in Palestine called for by the Security Council. At present, UNTSO assists and cooperates with UNDOF and UNIFIL; military observers are stationed in Beirut, South Lebanon, Sinai, Jordan, Israel and Syria.
1994 cost: $30 m.
Strength: 220 (15 US observers).

2. U.N. Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP).
Mission: Observe the cease-fire between India and Pakistan along the line of control in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
1994 cost: $8 m.
Strength: 39.

3. U.N. Peacekeeping Force
in Cyprus (UNFICYP).
Mission: Supervise 1974 ceasefire and maintain a buffer zone between the Cyprus National Guard and the Turkish and Turkish-Cypriot forces.
1994 cost: $47 m.
Strength: 1,212.

4. U.N. Defense Observer Force (UNDOF).
Mission: Supervise the ceasefire between Israel and Syria, and to establish an area of separation and verifying troop levels.
1994 cost: $35 m.
Strength: 1,036.

5. U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).
Mission: Confirm the withdrawal of Israeli forces from southern Lebanon, restore international peace and security, and assist the government of Lebanon in ensuring the effective return of its authority in the area.
1994 cost: $138 m.
Strength: 4,963.

6. U.N. Iraq/Kuwait Observer Mission (UNIKOM).
Mission: Monitor demilitarized zone between Iraq and Kuwait. Deter violations of the boundary and observe hostile or potentially hostile actions.
1994 cost: $73 m.
Strength: 1,100 (14 US observers).

7. U.N. Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO).
Mission: Verify ceasefire in Western Sahara. Supervise referendum on future of region.
1994 cost: $40 m.
Strength: 377 (30 US observers).

8. U.N. Angola Verification Mission III (UNAVEM III).
Mission: Assist in the disengagement of forces; set up verification mechanisms; establish communications links between government UNITA and UNAVEM; start process on mine clearance.
1994 cost: $25 m.
Strength: 4,109.

9. U.N. Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR).
Mission: Establish a demilitarized zone in northern Rwanda; act as intermediary between warring parties to achieve a ceasefire; protect refugees and assist in humanitarian relief missions; assist with demining and police training.
1994 cost: $98 m.
Strength: 2,776.

10. U.N. Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG).
Mission: Verify compliance with ceasefire agreement; investigate and resolve violations; observe CIS peacekeepers; monitor withdrawal of Georgian forces from Kodori valley; encourage orderly return of refugees and displaced persons.
1994 cost: $5 m.
Strength: 142 (4 US observers).

11. U.N. Observer Mission in Liberia (UNOMIL).
Mission: Investigate all reported violations of ceasefire agreement; observe and verify election process; assist in coordination of humanitarian activities; develop a plan for the demobilization of combatants; train engineers in mine clearance; coordinate with ECOMOG.
1994 cost: $65 m.
Strength: 52.

12. U.N. Mission of Observers in Tajikistan (UNMOT).
Mission: Monitor ceasefire between government forces and Islamic opposition, and coordinate with CIS peacekeeping force.
1994 cost: $65 m.
Strength: 39.

13. U.N. Confidence Restoration Operation in Croatia (UNCRO).
Mission: Create conditions of peace and security required to negotiate settlement of overall Yugoslav crisis; ensure demilitarization and protection of UN Protected Areas; assist in monitoring and reporting the crossing of military personnel, equipment and supplies over international borders of the former Yugoslavia.
1994 cost: figure not available.
Strength: 14,034.

14. U.N. Protection Force (UNPROFOR).
Mission: Facilitate delivery of humanitarian aid; ensure security and functioning of Sarajevo airport; protect safe areas; restrict heavy weapons around Sarajevo
1994 cost: figure not available.
Strength: 30,869.

15. U.N. Preventive Deployment Force.
Mission: Monitor borders of former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) with Albania and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia; deter attacks on the FYROM.
1994 cost: figure not available.
Strength: 1,166 (557 US troops).

16. U.N. Mission in Haiti (UNMIH).
Mission: Supervise orderly transfer of government in Haiti; train police force; prevent outbreak of political violence.
1994 cost 8/94--8/95: $174 m.
Strength: 6,760 (2,261 US troops).

Other Missions (Peacekeeping missions not under UN control):

17. Implementation Force (IFOR) in Bosnia.
Mission: As agreed to in Dayton in late 1995, monitoring the ceasefire and implementing the separation of forces, including the movement of forces and heavy weapons to containment areas.
Strength: planned for 60,000 in 1996, including 20,000 from the U.S.

18. Multinational Force and Observers (MFO).
Mission: Verify force levels between Egypt and Israel according to 1981 treaty; ensure freedom of navigation through the Strait of Tiran.
Strength: 1,950 (including US infantry and logistic personnel).

19. Neutral Nations' Supervisory Commission for Korea (NNSC).
Mission: Supervise, observe, inspect and investigate the 1953 Armistice Agreement and keep open a channel of communication between the two sides.
Composition: Diplomats and military officers from Sweden and Switzerland.

20. Provide Comfort ii.
Mission: To deter Iraqi aggression against the people of Northern Iraq.
U.S. Cost (FY 95): $200 million.

21. Ecuador-Peru Military Observers Mission (MOMEP).
Mission: Monitor the 1995 ceasefire between Ecuador and Peru.
U.S. Cost (FY95): $123 million.

22. OSCE Mission to Nagorno-Karabakh.
Mission: Establish a buffer zone along the Lachin corridor; monitor withdrawal of troops to the agreed boundaries. Implementation of this mission postponed pending agreement among the parties on the future status of Nagorno-Karabakh.

In Angola, a renewed U.N. operation (UNAVEM III) deployed in 1995. The plan was to reach a level of 5,000-6,000 forces, building up gradually while testing the willingness of both government and opposition guerrilla groups to disarm, accept the 1993 elections, and prepare for a second round of elections. Thus far, progress has been fitful, but a power-sharing agreement based on the 1993 elections has been reached, and renewal of hostilities has been avoided.

On March 31, 1995, UNMIH replaced a U.N.-sanctioned expanded peacekeeping operation in Haiti (the Multi-National Force, or MNF) that had been led by the U.S. Its mandate stemmed from Chapter VI of the U.N. Charter, and the military component was limited to 6,000 personnel (2,400 from the U.S.). Overtly hostile elements had been neutralized before deployment. The operation's objectives were to provide security for elections and other peace-building activities, including creation of a new police force, training the judiciary, monitoring human rights, and promoting economic revitalization. The U.S. headed the military component, thereby retaining effective command and control. So far, UNMIH has been successful in fulfilling its mandate to provide security and restore civil institutions to Haiti, although the conduct of the first round of parliamentary and municipal elections in June 1995 was badly flawed. The involvement of U.S. military forces has been broader, more prolonged, and costlier than anticipated, in part because civilian agencies in the U.S. and U.N. have been slow to muster the required resources, and in part due to administrative deficiencies of the Aristide government. An upsurge of violence in late 1995 and questions about the capacity of the fledgling Haitian police force to maintain order when UNMIH departs illustrates the challenges confronting such missions.

Cost to the U.S. of Selected Peacekeeping and Humanitarian Operations($ millions)

Source: Congressional Research Service

Peacekeeping has become increasingly complex and more likely to deal with internal instead of interstate, strife. Despite this, its overall record since 1991 has been positive. Failures have arisen from inadequate planning and resources, lack of political sophistication, or insufficient political support from key states. Above all, peacekeeping missions have foundered when the warring parties lack a commitment to peace (as in Somalia). Post-Cold War successes in internal peacekeeping operations--including very substantial peace-building and humanitarian activities in Namibia, Central America, Mozambique, Angola, and Haiti--demonstrate the possibilities for future peacekeeping operations.

With political support from major powers and key regional actors, bloody civil strife that had endured for a decade or more in Southern Africa and Central America has ceased. Prospects for more representative government and democracy have improved greatly in both regions. Indirect benefits have also been substantial, including South Africa's peaceful transition to a multiracial democracy and a reinvigorated economy. In the Middle East, more traditional peacekeeping operations continue to serve very important U.S. interests: maintaining peace between Israel and its neighbors and forestalling renewed Iraqi aggression.

Extensive support from the U.S. and others has helped the U.N. Secretariat improve its capability to plan, deploy, command, and sustain peacekeeping operations of modest scale, and to prepare for still larger operations. For example, by mid-1995, the U.N. Peacekeeping Office had over one hundred experienced military officers on loan to its staff, including a German lieutenant general, a Dutch major general, and a dozen Americans. In contrast, it had a staff of three in mid-1993. It also had established a twenty-four-hour command-and-communications center and consolidated previously dispersed logistics functions.

The Secretariat has developed a preliminary roster of earmarked or standby units from member states, and work is proceeding on a deployable headquarters unit; however, limits on these capabilities clearly remain. Shortfalls in financial support from member states, chief among them the United States, impede further improvement. Entrenched bureaucratic inefficiencies and rivalries within the Secretariat, and between the Secretariat and separate U.N. agencies, significantly inhibit coordination and rapid reaction. Continued improvement of U.N. capabilities, particularly logistics, training and C3I, will reduce the amount of support requested from the U.S., lower costs, and enhance operational effectiveness.

Expanded Peacekeepin and Peace Enforcement in Somolia

Expanded peacekeeping in Somalia began after the failure of UNOSOM I accompanied by the specter of 500,000 Somalis dead from famine by the fall of 1992 and hundreds of thousands more in danger of dying. The U.S.-led coalition approved by the Security Council in December 1992 had a mandate of protecting humanitarian operations and creating a secure environment for eventual political reconciliation. At the same time, it had the authority to use all necessary means, including military force. By March 1993, mass starvation had been overcome, and security was much improved. At its peak, almost 30,000 U.S. military personnel participated in the operation, along with 10,000 personnel from twenty-four other states. Despite the absence of political agreement among the rival forces, periodic provocations, and occasional military responses by UNITAF, the coalition retained its impartiality and avoided open combat with Somali factions--blending its coercive powers with political dialogue, psychological operations, and highly visible humanitarian activities.

On May 4, 1993, UNITAF was succeeded by UNOSOM II, but the transition was badly managed. Basic U.N. deficiencies in planning, C3I, and political acumen were compounded by an expanded and intrusive mandate; greatly diminished military capabilities; more aggressive Somali opposition; uncertain support from the United States; differences within the coalition; and uncertainty by the Security Council, the Secretariat, and others. Subsequently, UNOSOM II crossed the "Mogadishu (or Beirut) line" and became a badly flawed peace enforcement operation. (In Beirut in 1983 and Mogadishu in 1994, military forces came to be seen by parties to the local conflict as co-belligerents rather than impartial peacekeepers.)

In Somalia, peace enforcement was only an implicit element of the original U.N. mandate, which focused on peace-building (disarmament, political reconciliation, and economic rehabilitation). However, after a confrontation between the Somali National Alliance (SNA) and the U.N. led to the killing of twenty-five Pakistani peacekeepers, the Security Council made the operation's peace-enforcement mission explicit. It was executed by both U.N. forces and a 1,000-man U.S. rapid-reaction force under U.S. operational control, with the authority of the United Nations. (There was also a 3,000-man U.S. logistics unit under U.N. operational control.) A lack of decisiveness, cohesion, and command and control by the undermanned U.N. mission (half the strength of UNITAF, with some 20,000 personnel) and a series of armed clashes between U.S./U.N. forces and the SNA created a virtual state of war and undermined the effectiveness of the U.N. operation. Confusion over the dual-command relationship between the U.S. and UNOSOM II was another complicating factor, with a U.S. general officer serving as both the U.N. deputy forces commander and commander of U.S. forces. A clash on October 3-4 left eighteen U.S. personnel dead and seventy-eight wounded, along with over one thousand Somali casualties. Public outcry in the United States contributed to the decision to withdraw U.S. forces in March 1994. That, coupled with continued internal strife and SNA hostility toward the U.N., led to a total U.N. withdrawal in March 1995. This was executed skillfully, without casualties, in a carefully planned combined U.S.-U.N. action.

Expanded Peacekeeping and Peace Enforcement

Expanded peacekeeping operations go beyond even the more complex peacekeeping operations considered in the previous section. They are larger in magnitude (20,000 personnel or more), more costly ($1 billion or more), and confront a potentially more hostile operational environment because consent from disputants may be nominal, incomplete, or, at times, nonexistent. Accordingly, they have involved more assertive mandates and rules of engagement, including the use of force under authorization of Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter.

The only Cold War era U.N. operation in this category--in the Congo--resulted from an unplanned expansion of the mission's original mandate, activities, and personnel between 1960 and 1964. Eventually, the mission abandoned impartiality and employed military force to help achieve a political outcome deemed desirable by the United States.

Between 1992 and 1995, expanded peacekeeping operations were undertaken in Cambodia (UNTAC), Bosnia (UNPROFOR), Somalia (UNITAF), and Haiti (MNF) in response to serious internal political and military strife and critical humanitarian and human-rights conditions. The United States was, in all cases, a leading advocate and active participant in generating these missions, but had no units involved in UNTAC and UNPROFOR. Initially, all carried primarily humanitarian and peace-building objectives (e.g., saving lives, repatriating refugees, organizing elections, rehabilitating the local economy, monitoring human rights, reforming civil administration, disarming and demobilizing militias, and training a new cadre of police), as opposed to merely providing military assistance to a diplomatic mission or monitoring the military aspects of an interstate accord. However, the dynamics of implementation meant that the dominant issue and key determinant of success became the use of military power and its relationship to other activities.

The mandates, objectives, and uses of available military power varied among the four operations. The MNF in Haiti and UNITAF in Somalia had Chapter VII enforcement authority from the outset, which explicitly authorized them to use force, not merely in self-defense, but as needed to achieve their objectives. In practice, force was used sparingly and essentially in self-defense rather than systematically and coercively; yet both missions maintained a clear upper hand over actual or potential opponents and created an acceptable degree of security for the local population. UNTAC, operating under Chapter VI, achieved essentially the same objective by stressing political dialogue. Basic impartiality was maintained in all cases.
UNPROFOR in Bosnia was given Chapter VII authority for specific, limited objectives in 1994, which were shared in a confused, dual-key arrangement with NATO. Coordination problems between the U.N. and NATO and confusion amongst key governments severely hampered operations until August 1995, at considerable expense to the credibility of both organizations.

Expanded Peacekeeping in Haiti and Cambodia

Haiti. The U.S.-led Multinational Force for Haiti (MNF) began on September 19, 1994 with the approval of the Security Council, which, at the same time, approved the follow-on U.N. operation. The credible threat of overwhelming force--combined with skillful, eleventh-hour diplomacy--
enabled U.S. forces to land unopposed and avoid the negative consequences that combat would have brought. The MNF initially employed over 20,000 U.S. military personnel, plus some 2,000 personnel from a dozen other countries. The mission was to restore democracy by removing the de facto military regime, return the previously elected Aristide regime to power, ensure security, assist with the rehabilitation of civil administration, train a police force and judiciary, help prepare for elections, and turn over responsibility to the U.N. A prior but unfulfilled political agreement between the parties on Governor's Island (New York) in 1991 served as a template to shape objectives. There was a major commitment to peace-building by civilian agencies of the U.S. government, particularly USAID, closely coordinated with the U.N. and numerous other international, regional, and non-governmental organizations. The mission was successfully completed on March 31, 1995, thanks to well-executed political, military, diplomatic, and humanitarian activities. U.S. special operations forces played an essential role in establishing security and assuring de facto public administration in rural areas.

Advanced planning and coordination for the transition were well managed by the U.S. and the U.N., as were the selection and training of senior leaders to sustain continued cooperative international action. In contrast to the Somalia transition, the U.N. deployed an advance headquarters element to Haiti six months prior to the change of command. On March 31, 1995, a smaller U.N. peacekeeping mission in Haiti (UNMIH) succeeded the powerful MNF, with a March 1996 deadline for completion, after a newly-elected President is scheduled to take office.

Cambodia. This mission originated with a 1991 Paris agreement amongst the five permanent members of the UNSC, aimed at getting Vietnamese troops out of Cambodia and curbing the power of the Khmer Rouge. The objectives of the 20,000-person military and civilian force were: reform of civil administration and police forces; relief and repatriation of over 500,000 refugees and internally displaced persons; clearing of mines; the demobilization of militias; monitoring the departure of foreign military forces; and managing the organization and conduct of elections. U.S. military personnel were present only as observers. Initially, the mission sought to assume de facto administrative control over Cambodia and disarm all combatants; however, facing serious armed opposition from the Khmer Rouge, it cut back its intrusive mandate and kept the channels of dialogue open rather than creating an adversarial relationship (as in Somalia). This decision avoided what would have been a very bloody and disruptive conflict, putting the mission at serious risk. It allowed free elections to be held in 90 percent of the country. The mission was successfully terminated in September 1993.

Army Rangers aboard USS Roosevelt for Operations Resore Democracy off Haiti

When norms of international conduct have been egregiously violated, the U.N. Security Council may decide upon peace enforcement action. Peace enforcement is most likely to meet its demanding objectives when coercive military force is employed on a sustained basis without necessarily adhering to the principles of consent or impartiality. Nevertheless, the military objectives are limited in nature, such as protecting safe areas, enforcing no-fly zones and cease-fires, or compelling disarmament.

In the cases of UNOSOM II in Somalia and UNPROFOR in Bosnia, expanded peacekeeping operations produce considerable conflict with local parties and evolved into peace enforcement on the ground, in part due to confusion by the U.N. Security Council and key governments as well as in the execution of operations on the ground. In the cases of Cambodia and Haiti and UNITAF in Somalia, the potential for conflict was present, but a skillful combination of force and diplomacy allowed the operations to proceed successfully, avoiding conflict and the need for peace enforcement on the ground.

U.N. Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali frankly admitted in his January 1995 report to the General Assembly and Security Council that the United Nations lacks the resources and capabilities to manage complex peace operations properly, especially those involving large military forces in a combat environment. For its part, the United States must also consider many issues--such as financial cost, diversion of national military resources from other missions, the risk of casualties, and the fragility of domestic and international support for peace operations--in the context of whether participating furthers important national interests. Doubts have also been raised about the efficacy of using military force to pursue a durable political agreement in states where political institutions have been destroyed, and the wisdom of using force in conflicted situations when impartiality and consent are vital to success.

Whatever the frequency of future expanded peacekeeping or peace-enforcement operations, U.S. involvement in them will continue to be critical. In missions that enjoyed strong, consistent backing from the United States--such as Cambodia and the U.S.-led operations in Somalia and Haiti--there was a unity of purpose and cohesive command. They established a dominant position at the outset and maintained it, skillfully combining political, military, and humanitarian activities. In contrast, the U.N. missions in Somalia lacked a realistic mandate and coherent support, politically or militarily, from those states with the most influence and interest in the area. They also suffered from internal U.N. weakness in the face of tough opposition. Operations in Bosnia were also plagued for two years by indecisiveness and internal dissension (compounded by dual-command arrangements), owing to limited and uncertain support by the United States and others; the U.N.'s inherent weakness; and ruthless, calculating opponents who felt threatened but not cowed by the U.N. presence and tried to exploit it.

When expanded operations are under consideration, the issues to consider include: how to set the objectives clearly and with as narrow limits as possible; what resources are likely to be required over the anticipated duration of the mission and how much support can be expected from other countries and organizations; whether the resultant degree, duration, and cost of a U.S. commitment is merited by the national interests involved; how these interests can be articulated persuasively; and the likelihood of sustained domestic political support. Humanitarian motivations can generate very strong initial pressures for U.S. involvement; however, in the absence of a coherent policy and a politically salable rationale that has been communicated effectively, public support typically fades soon after difficulties arise. Indeed, nation-building--that is, de facto trusteeship--requires such a long-term commitment of large-scale resources that the U.S. is likely to avoid this responsibility unless there is an overwhelming U.S. interest in the country.

A variety of steps can be taken to limit the resources required from the U.S. The size of the operation can be minimized if the mission avoids direct confrontation with opposing parties, seeks to contain rather than eliminate conflict, avoids excessive intrusion into internal affairs such as nation-building or externally created political reconciliation, and phases operations out after an initial period--if necessary, even if total success has not been achieved. The U.S. need not play a major role in every operation; in some, it may contribute a minor share of the personnel and resources by emphasizing its unique and specialized capabilities and encouraging others to provide the bulk of military forces required. In instances where a major U.S. contribution is required, the U.S. can still reduce the longer-term burden by planning at the outset for other nations to contribute follow-on forces once threatening initial obstacles have been overcome (as in Haiti).

Peace-enforcement missions are normally given strictly limited objectives. Protection of safe or no-fly zones and of relief deliveries can often be achieved by combined military and political activity without abandoning impartiality. However, if actions become so intrusive that they jeopardize the core interests or major military capabilities of any of the parties to the conflict, the mission will likely become enveloped in major hostilities. At this stage, it must pull out or shift from peace operations to virtual war. To be successful, future operations will have to navigate this potentially dangerous situation. Furthermore, peace forces are much more likely to be successful in such situations when they possess overwhelming military superiority and good C3I, are not deployed in exposed positions or vulnerable to retaliation, have a good understanding of the local political scene, and maintain political dialogue with all sides.

IFOR Areas of Responsibility in Bosnia

Expanded Peacekeeping and Peace Enforcement in Bosnia

The U.N. operation in the former Yugoslavia was originally concentrated in Croatia and then separated in early 1995 into three loosely connected forces--in Croatia, Macedonia, and Bosnia. U.N. military personnel in Croatia, who arrived in March 1992, numbered 15,000. Moderately armed, they were charged with monitoring an existing cease-fire. In Macedonia, the U.N. undertook the first preventive deployment in its history, with a force of 1,150 lightly armed personnel, half of them from the United States. In Bosnia, the mission's initial objective was support for a major humanitarian relief operation by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

No U.S. military units participated in the U.N. Protection Force (UNPROFOR), although U.S. aircraft and naval vessels provided the bulk of the NATO naval blockade and air attack forces, plus logistics and C3I acting in its support. The USAF also mounted a separate humanitarian airlift and airdrop for Bosnia.

In 1994, the U.N. mission for Bosnia was given an expanded mandate by the Security Council: to enforce weapons exclusion and no-fly zones, and to deter attacks on designated safe areas for civilians. Enforcement was to be shared with NATO air units, subject to U.N. approval. Use of military force was hamstrung by major differences, however, both within NATO and the Security Council, and among NATO, U.N. field commanders, and U.N. headquarters. Serbian actions also proved daunting (e.g., hostage taking of U.N. personnel), while Bosnian government forces exploited safe areas to launch raids on Serb forces UNPROFOR was not given the resources needed to carry out its expanded mission as set forth in numerous UNSC Resolutions. The Serb capture of U.N.-protected safe havens in July 1995, the Croatian capture of Serb-held areas, and the brutal expulsion of Serbs in August 1995 led to a full-scale reassessment--by the United Nations, the United States, and NATO--of the Bosnian mission's role and mandate. The 30,000-man force in Bosnia was reinforced by a 10,000-man, heavily armed rapid-reaction force from the U.K., France, and the Netherlands. The force in Croatia was ordered withdrawn by the Security Council, since Croatian military success had vitiated its role of monitoring the lines between Croatians and Serbs.

Until August 1995, despite blatant provocations, force had been used by NATO hesitantly, weakly and not at all by UNPROFOR. As a result, credibility was lost by the U.N., NATO, and the U.S. By mid-August, the U.N. and NATO had greatly improved their coordination and strengthened their political will. Following Serb attacks on Sarajevo in late August, NATO undertook a well-planned air action, reinforced on the ground by the rapid reaction force, in responding to Serb attacks. At this point, UNPROFOR, as well as NATO, crossed the key threshold of impartiality; UNPROFOR became a peace enforcement operation.

Using momentum generated by the August-September 1995 joint Croat-Bosnian offensive and the powerful NATO air strikes, the U.S. launched a new diplomatic peace initiative. On September 8 in Geneva, the foreign ministers of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, and Serbia signed an agreed statement of basic principles on ending the conflict in Bosnia. On October 12, a cease-fire officially came into force. In November, proximity talks in Dayton brokered by the U.S. led to an eventual peace agreement. President Clinton announced his intention to deploy 20,000 U.S. personnel as part of the 60,000 person NATO-led force that would replace UNPROFOR to enforce the peace agreement, and to work with civilian agencies, coordinated by the High Representative of the international community called for by the Dayton accords, to facillitate resettlement of over a million displaced persons and the holding of elections.

Humanitarian Support Operations

Humanitarian support operations entail conducting, assisting, or safeguarding the delivery of food and medical supplies, protecting civilian populations, and so forth. During the Cold War, they were occasionally conducted in conjunction with peace operations (e.g., in the Congo and Dominican Republic), but only infrequently and usually as an afterthought.

Since the end of the Cold War, humanitarian operations have been undertaken with increasing frequency and scope by the international community, primarily to reduce the number of deaths and alleviate human suffering on a massive scale. Military forces have been a major component of several operations--some of which were conducted in association with peace operations--providing logistical support, assisting the activities of civilian organizations, delivering food and health care directly to refugees, rescuing emigrants at sea, and protecting humanitarian operations undertaken by the international community. On occasion, as in Bosnia and Somalia, the protection of humanitarian operations by military forces under Chapter VI of the U.N. Charter (i.e., operating with the consent of the parties concerned) evolved into peace enforcement under Chapter VII (with authority to use force).

In April 1991, Operation Sea Angel--a joint task force led by the U.S. Marine Corps--provided emergency assistance to a million Bangladeshis stricken by a devastating cyclone.

In Somalia, Operation Provide Relief began in August 1992. A dozen Air Force C-130s delivered 48,000 tons of food and medical supplies in six months to international humanitarian organizations, trying to help over three million starving people. When this proved inadequate to stop the massive death and displacement of Somali people (500,000 dead; 1.5 million refugees or displaced), the U.S. in December 1992 launched a major coalition operation to assist and protect humanitarian activities. The operation was successful in stopping the famine and saving an estimated 200,000 lives, as well as de-escalating the high-intensity civil war into low-level, local skirmishes.

In 1992, UNPROFOR was established in Bosnia primarily to protect relief operations. UNHCR was the lead agency in coordinating the effort. Later, U.N. forces--with no direct U.S. participation--attempted to provide safe havens and protection for relief convoys. The U.S. played a major role in the relief operation by conducting an airlift/airdrop of 69,000 tons to Sarajevo. These activities alleviated but did not stop the massive human suffering in Bosnia. UNPROFOR's humanitarian operations led to clashes with most of the disputants, especially the Serbs. UNPROFOR eventually became a peace enforcement operation.

In late July 1994, the U.S. military undertook Operation Support Hope to supply food, medicine, vehicles, water-pumping and purification equipment, and other items to an international effort led by UNHCR to assist a million Rwandan refugees. Six other countries also deployed military forces for this purpose, among them Japan, France, Israel, and the Netherlands.

Another type of humanitarian operation has been conducted by the U.S. over the past several years in the Caribbean. Operation Distant Shore intercepted Haitians and Cubans fleeing their countries in flimsy craft destined for Florida. Though it can be considered a humanitarian operation insofar as it rescued people at risk on the open seas, the operation's principal purpose was to prevent the intrusion of hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens into the country, a highly charged political issue. By intercepting these refugees before they reached U.S. soil, it was possible to return them to their country of origin or confine them in temporary detention centers. In some instances, Cuba and Haiti deliberately encouraged emigration in order to apply pressure on the U.S. Thus, Operation Distant Shore can be seen as a means of managing a security problem, as well as humanitarian support.

Humaintarian Emergencies, 1995

Source: CIA

Note: Numbers in parenthesis are the number of people affected by the humanitarian emergency.

Each relief operation with a potential requirement for military support is likely to be assessed in more than just the terms of the U.S. interests involved. The immediate and long-term need for U.S. help, the availability of other assistance, probable costs, and attainability of objectives will also be evaluated. Whenever civilian agencies are given the job, perhaps with military logistics support, the potential that disputants might control or manipulate food distribution and that the operation could become entangled in unresolved domestic power struggles must be considered as well. Without proper oversight, humanitarian missions can evolve unintentionally into political-military operations with totally different objectives and requirements, as occurred in Somalia and Bosnia.

The military cannot seek to be a replacement for civilian humanitarian organizations. Humanitarian support seems to work best when the military relinquishes operations to civilians as soon as the latter are able to manage them. Owing to their unmatched logistical and organizational capabilities, however, the armed forces are uniquely able to provide a massive, rapid response to crises in remote locations and will likely continue to do so in partnership with civilian organizations. Given the inclination of the U.S. public to support humanitarian causes, continued use of military assets for such missions seems probable.


Peace operations provide a useful array of instruments for the pursuit of important U.S. interests and values--notably the preservation or restoration of stability, the enhancement of democracy and human rights, and the alleviation of humanitarian crises. Even if U.S. security is not immediately threatened, instability, violence, and large-scale human suffering often pose a long-term menace to important U.S. political and economic interests. Under proper circumstances, the various forms of peace operations have demonstrated a capacity to preclude, limit, or resolve conflict and to relieve human suffering. Collective action offers an alternative to inaction or unilateral action, with the added advantage of a reduction in material and financial costs for the U.S. and an increase in political effectiveness.

The least militarily intensive peace operations--conflict prevention and peacemaking operations--have had a mixed record of success. Yet they remain a viable instrument of policy because of their relatively low cost, small size, and sustainability. Such preventive measures may be used more frequently in the future, especially given the favorable contrast with costly extended peacekeeping operations and the increased efforts by the U.N., many member states, and PVOs to make them more effective and more rapidly responsive. Still, greater U.S. military and civilian cooperation with others in this effort is fully justified by the low level of expenditure, the potentially high benefits, and the anticipated cost savings.

A U.S. serviceman identifies a Cuban migrant by using the computerized Defense Mass Personnel Identification and Tracking System at the U.S. Naval Base, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, on June, 1995. The worker scans a bracelet worn by the migrant which contains a computer chip with positive personal identification.

Peacekeeping operations have generally worked best when the warring parties have reached an enduring settlement, although the presence of peacekeeping forces, coupled with capable diplomacy, can also provide a valuable face-saving cover needed to forge a cease-fire and other agreements. With the end of superpower rivalry, peacekeeping operations have generally focused on resolving internal conflicts in individual states rather than cross-border aggression. The missions are thus more complicated, since there is less control over armed elements and, in some cases, virtually no administrative structures or organized leadership with which to work. As a result, the operations have become multidimensional, incorporating such considerations as human rights, police training, election monitoring, and institution-building. Such versatility has led to a steady demand for their deployment, and continued use in the future seems inevitable, given the troubled state of the world. Moreover, they are of modest cost, especially when there is broad, international participation and support, and the degree of U.S. participation can be minimized. Thus, continued U.S. active support rests upon a calculation of national interest versus cost.

Coordination among interested member states, the United Nations, regional organizations, and PVOs has become even more pivotal to success for both the political and military dimensions of peacekeeping. The Organization of American States has gained experience in peacekeeping; the CIS is developing a capability; serious projects are underway to improve the peacekeeping capabilities of the Organization of African Unity; and the OSCE is interested in developing its peacekeeping role. NATO is for the first time deeply involved in peace operations. Numerous Asian, African, Latin American, and European armies (including those from the CIS) are improving their own peacekeeping potential, in some cases with help from the U.S. International and non-governmental organizations are following the same approach. This trend deserves encouragement since it will tend to make other countries both more receptive and more effective when needed for peace operations. For the U.S., this means further improvement in its own interagency capabilities and its coordination with PVOs. It also means more work in helping the U.N. Secretariat, regional organizations, and individual countries become more proficient. In particular, the U.S. can provide valuable help in improving planning, logistics, training, and C3 capabilities. U.N. and regional organization approval will continue to be very important as legitimization, enhancing the prospects of participation or support by more states. This means closer, sustained attention to diplomatic and military-to-military efforts aimed at strengthening U.S. relations with other countries.

Some degree of U.S. military involvement can frequently make the difference between success and failure for both conflict prevention and peacekeeping operations. U.S. special skills--supplied by small numbers of specialized personnel for headquarters, C3I, psychological operations, civil affairs, and special operations functions--can provide the essential extras to ensure success. In addition, U.S. participation in an operation will often inspire others to contribute, while U.S. absence is apt to deter others, as well as harm the overall conduct of operations and erode U.S. influence. This means a greater U.S. concentration on how to enhance prospects for success with limited participation, rather than assuming that the U.S. will play the dominant role. Whatever role the U.S. plays, it is essential to pay close, continuing attention on the ground and in Washington to articulating U.S. objectives and interests, and explaining clearly how operations are proceeding. Such measures will help build and sustain support at home.

United Nation troops patrol the streets around Kigali Airport

The prognosis for expanded peacekeeping and peace enforcement is less certain. By its own admission, the United Nations lacks the capability to manage these ambitious missions, and the serious problems of the operation in Bosnia and the failure of the Somalia mission, plus very high costs, have undermined support for such activities. Thus, additional operations, involving large military forces under U.N. command, are not likely to be undertaken any time in the near future, unless Washington decides that an expanded peacekeeping or peace enforcement mission would serve important U.S. interests and opts to form a coalition to undertake the action (as in Bosnia, secceeding UNPROFOR). The U.S. government might seek a Security Council or regional endorsement to mobilize international support for an effective coalition under U.S. or perhaps under NATO leadership and C3I, as it did for IFOR.

The number of military establishments capable of engaging seriously in peace enforcement is not likely to increase significantly in the near term, despite U.S. military assistance. Therefore, future coalition-formation efforts may focus primarily on countries that already possess advanced military capabilities. Other countries are more likely to be considered for supporting, rather than principal, tasks in such a coalition. Operational effectiveness in rapidly changing situations is likely to be impeded if arrangements are made with an eye to political symbolism. Dual-command arrangements (e.g. U.S.-U.N. in Somalia, NATO-U.N. in Bosnia) are an example of arrangements that pose serious operational difficulties. Moreover, UNSC Resolutions are not always realistic in their operational implications for forces on the ground.

Humanitarian operations continue to receive a great deal of attention in Washington and around the world. Military support has proven its utility as a partner in such operations in northern Iraq, Somalia, Bangladesh, and on the Zaire-Rwanda border. A number of other countries are expanding their military as well as civilian capacity to support humanitarian operations. Similarly, important work continues within the U.S. armed forces, other government agencies, and some NGOs to institutionalize and improve military-civilian cooperation in humanitarian operations.

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