A Background Paper for the UNITAR/IPS/NIRA Singapore Conference

Feb. 24-26, 1997

Larry Minear, Co-Director and Principal Researcher
Humanitarianism and War Project, Brown University(1)

This year’s conference will focus on the relationships between humanitarian action and peacekeeping operations, reviewing past operations and formulating recommendations for the future. This paper identifies key policy issues which the Conference may wish to address.

The analysis is drawn from six years of work by the Humanitarianism and War Project, an independent policy research initiative based at the Thomas J. Watson Jr. Institute for International Studies at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island. In the course of a dozen country case studies (Appendix I), the Project has conducted more than 3,000 interviews with participants in complex emergencies in the early post-Cold War period.(2) The paper identifies six major issues, illustrating each with examples drawn from the Project’s research. References are provided to publications in which the examples are presented in greater detail. The Conference itself will provide many additional examples, perhaps also reframing the issues themselves. The issues identified move from the conceptual to the practical. A concluding section contains observations on the lessons-learning process.

Situating humanitarian action in relation to peacekeeping

Discussions of humanitarian and peacekeeping activities often disclose fundamentally different concepts of their relationship. In the view of some, humanitarian action takes place squarely within peacekeeping operations, lodged fully within the political rubric of the United Nations. Others envision humanitarian efforts integrated within but nevertheless insulated from the surrounding political framework. Still others approach humanitarian efforts as free-standing initiatives, structurally independent of peacekeeping activities.(3) In An Agenda for Peace of June 1992, Former Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali noted that with the passing of the Cold War and of frequent superpower vetoes in the Security Council, the UN and its security arm have emerged as “a central instrument for the prevention and resolution of conflicts and for the preservation of peace.” Humanitarian action ranks among the efforts to foster peace through addressing “the deepest causes of conflict: economic despair, social injustice and political oppression.”(4) Although the Secretary-General and Security Council later exercised greater caution in approaching the peace enforcement element of An Agenda for Peace, humanitarian activities for the Council remain prominently and firmly situated within peacekeeping operations.

The centrality of humanitarian action is confirmed by the experience of Special Representatives of the Secretary-General who have managed such undertakings. “The coordination of humanitarian assistance should be an essential component of any peacekeeping operation,” notes Aldo Romano Ajello from his experience in Mozambique. “[It] is, above all, an essential instrument in the implementation of the peace agreement.”(5) A second approach stresses the need to insulate humanitarian action from peacekeeping activities. An integral part of same world body that authorizes and maintains peacekeeping operations, UN humanitarian organizations also have their own mandates and terms of reference. “Despite the UN’s inclusiveness, its legitimacy, the size and expertise of its specialized Agencies, and its authority to sanction intervention,” notes one analyst, “the objectives and motive force of participating organizations are self-generated and self-directed.”(6)

From this perspective, humanitarian action, in principle and by definition, is a response to basic human needs for protection and assistance. International humanitarian law requires that such action be devoid of extraneous agendas, political, religious, or otherwise.(7) Responding to the tension between their humanitarian mandates and their membership in the UN family — their own governing bodies are themselves comprised of UN member states — UN humanitarian organizations have sought in ways illustrated below to insulate activities from the UN’s political-military sphere.

A third approach, reflecting doubts about the desirability of integration and the possibility of insulation, holds that humanitarian action in complex emergencies should be institutionally separated from the United Nations altogether. A host of humanitarian organizations — first and foremost the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) but also some non-governmental organizations — emphasize their structural independence.

The ICRC, basing its activities on the right of civilian populations to humanitarian assistance and the obligation of governments to respect that right, underscores the consensual nature of humanitarian action. In its view, “humanitarian intervention” — that is, humanitarian action backed by military force — is a contradiction in terms. As a matter of principle and of operations, it has maintained a clear separation from UN political-military activities, which, whatever legitimacy they exercise in their own right, compromise the impartiality of associated humanitarian organizations and activities. Although enforcement activities under Chapter VII are perceived as greater threats to the integrity of humanitarian action, independence is also sought from Chapter VI undertakings as well. The ICRC also keeps its distance from the humanitarian efforts of UN and other organizations.

Where to situate humanitarian action in relation to peacekeeping operations has been the subject of ongoing discussions between and among DPKO, DPA, and, since its creation in 1992, DHA. Those discussions are reflected in an interagency paper, “Respect for Humanitarian Mandates in Conflict Situations,” which provides a set of principles and operational guidelines for complex emergencies. Noting an upsurge in responses to internal armed conflicts in the form of multi-faceted UN operations involving political, military, and humanitarian activities, the paper essentially straddles the integrationist and insulationist approaches.

“Given the interrelated causes and consequences of complex emergencies, humanitarian action cannot be fully effective unless it is related to a comprehensive strategy for peace and security, human rights and social and economic development as proposed within the framework of the Agenda for Peace.” The paper therefore offers operational guidelines for humanitarian activities within “integrated and unified operations.” At the same time, the paper affirms the need for carefully insulating such activities. Because “humanitarian and political objectives do not necessarily coincide,” UN humanitarian organizations should “maintain a certain degree of independence from UN-authorized political and/or military activities. … [They] are responsible for and should enjoy autonomy in accordance with their mandates.”(8)

Regular consultations among the three UN departments have reduced some of the tensions experienced earlier in the decade. In fact, discussions of the Humanitarian Mandates paper, which was approved by the InterAgency Standing Committee (IASC) in November 1996, have provided a vehicle for clarifying and addressing the issues. However, some confusion remains about where humanitarian action should be situated, playing itself out in matters of coordination, decision-making, programming, and accountability in ways elaborated the following sections. Whether a new initiative will be mounted by the new Secretary-General, himself intimately familiar with the tensions involved, remains to be seen.

Orchestrating decision-making in the Security Council

Decisions by the UN Security Council in the political and peacekeeping arenas establish the framework within which activities by UN and associated humanitarian organizations are carried out. The closer connection now seen after the Cold War between humanitarian crises and threats to international peace and security is clearly a positive development. Nevertheless, tensions between political decisions and humanitarian efforts have arisen in three major areas: the absence of adequate Security Council attention to humanitarian concerns, the substitution of humanitarian for political action, and the intrusion of national political agendas into the humanitarian arena.

At critical junctures in major recent crises, the Security Council has proved inattentive to serious humanitarian concerns. The human cataclysm in Liberia — dramatized by major incidents involving the slaughter of civilians in December of 1989 and July of 1990 — did not surface prominently for years on the Council’s screen. As the conflict spread in 1990, it was preoccupied with radical changes in eastern Europe and Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. Soon the disintegration of the former Yugoslavia and civil strife within Somalia claimed its attention. A UN political initiative thus came only after the Liberia crisis was well advanced. UN humanitarian organizations had moved more quickly to assess the need and had set up limited aid operations by March 1990, although all UN personnel were withdrawn in May amid worsening security.

The Liberia experience introduces a caveat to the welcome post-Cold War linkage noted earlier between civilian suffering and perceived threats to international security. From a purely humanitarian standpoint, threats to humanity create their own imperative for action, quite apart from any perceived connection to international peace and security. Noting a similar high-level political inattention at about the same time with respect to the civil war in the Sudan, we recommended the development of a “humanitarian trigger mechanism [which] could automatically bring an acute civil war situation to the attention of the Security Council through the Secretary-General under Article 99 of the Charter.”(9) Although such a provision would not guarantee the Council’s action, it would exercise a claim on its attention.

On a variety of occasions the Council has also substituted humanitarian for political action. Responses to the crisis in the former Yugoslavia offer a dramatic case in point. During the years 1991-95, the Security Council passed upwards of one hundred resolutions to impose and then tighten a weapons embargo, commit UN peacekeeping forces, decry ethnic cleansing and other human rights abuses, endorse stepped up aid activities, establish “safe areas,” and ensure humanitarian access.

As the wars dragged on and political solutions became increasingly elusive, resolutions addressing humanitarian concerns increased in prominence. Security Council measures were widely viewed as “humanitarian alibis:” that is, high-profile steps that allowed governments to appear to be doing something while in reality avoiding the essential measures. Cedric Thornberry, who headed UNPROFOR’s Civil Affairs unit for three years, has subsequently expressed his personal view that “UN peace operations … are frequently (especially in the former Yugoslavia) knee-deep in mandates promulgated by a Security Council which, in 1992-3, lost contact with reality in regard to Yugoslavia and perhaps also elsewhere.”(10) The Yugoslav crisis represented, in the words of UN High Commissioner Sadako Ogata, “a humanitarian problem without a humanitarian solution.” Initiated in the early going to buy time for a solution to the conflicts, humanitarian activities became over time an end in themselves. “It is not simply that the UN’s humanitarian activities have become politicized,” observed a UNHCR official in late 1993. “It is rather that we’ve been transformed into the only manifestation of international political will.”(11) The Security Council not only failed to take the requisite diplomatic (and perhaps also military) action but also undermined humanitarian values as well. “We have chosen to respond to major unlawful violence not by stopping that violence, but by trying to provide relief to the suffering,” observed analyst Rosalyn Higgins. “But our choice of policy allows the suffering to continue.”(12)

Finally, national political agendas of Security Council member states have adversely affected the Council’s responses to humanitarian imperatives. Confronted by genocide unleashed in early April 1994 in Rwanda and against the advice of diplomats and military personnel on the ground, the Security Council reduced the numbers of peacekeeping personnel and then waited fully six weeks before augmenting them. Acting under a restrictive Presidential Decision Directive 25, the United States prevailed at a time when most Council members were prepared to act. The Council deferred to insistence by the People’s Republic of China in 1996 that the extension of the UN peacekeeping operation in Haiti be limited to four months rather than the proposed six. Objections by the Chinese also delayed Council authorization of UN military observers to oversee a long-sought Guatemalan peace agreement, although they ultimately agreed to the mission. In each instance, it was those governments’ relations with Taiwan to which the Chinese objected.

National political interests can, of course, spur as well as deter constructive Security Council action. One of the acknowledged factors in Canadian commitments to UNMIH and its funding for economic development in Haiti in 1996 was the desire to demonstrate to Quebec “the positive role of a united Canada in a francophone foreign policy setting.”(13) High-profile Canadian involvement in Haiti also helped the government’s electoral strategy in the Papineau-St. Michel district of Montreal, heavily populated by Haitians. Political considerations also figured in the leadership role played by the French government in pressing the Security Council to authorize Opération Turquoise in June 1994, although the positive humanitarian aspects of the French initiative were offset by longer term political problems.(14)

The area of economic sanctions provides an illustration of all three of these elements at work. First, sanctions imposed by the Security Council have had wide-ranging humanitarian consequences, often without accomplishing their political purposes. While such consequences are often explained by sanctions proponents as “unanticipated,” a report prepared for the UN Department of Humanitarian Affairs concluded that “The amount of information available today on the devastating economic, social and humanitarian impact of sanctions no longer permits to entertain the notion of ‘unintended effects.'”(15) Second, sanctions have served as a substitute for serious political action. Such economic measures imposed by the Security Council against Haiti from 1991 onwards, for example, were violated with impunity by those against whom they were targeted and were weakened as well by some of the same governments that had pressed for them. (16) Third, the management of sanctions has reflected the wishes of key Permanent Members of the Security Council rather than a clear consensus of Council members. In the case of Iraq, pressure of the United States and the United Kingdom spearheaded the use of military force against Iraq in January 1991, despite evidence that the sanctions imposed in August of the previous year were beginning to be felt. Pressure from the same governments kept the sanctions in place and deferred until late 1996 implementation of the oil-for-food agreement, at great civilian cost throughout. The added licensing burdens on humanitarian actors imposed by the Sanctions Committees and intensified by the United States also undercut the responsiveness of humanitarian programs, though recently introduced changes have eased some of the burdens.(17)

As the Conference reviews the dynamics of orchestrating decision-making in major crises by the Security Council, one conclusion and recommendation from our recent case study of the international response to a series of crises in Haiti over the last decade may have wider application: “The interests of one or more major powers in promoting international action, fueled by domestic political considerations and perceived national interests, should be acknowledged and welcomed to the extent that they converge with the interests of the larger community of states. However, safeguards should be introduced to maximize multilateral action and accountability.”(18)

Our conclusion from reviewing the humanitarian/political interface in the Gulf crisis may also be pertinent: “Before the Security Council decides on economic sanctions and military enforcement actions with potentially major humanitarian consequences, the views of UN organizations with humanitarian competence and responsibilities should be given serious consideration. Proceeding with such action would commit the UN system to respond fully to their consequences.”(19)

Managing the interface with regional organizations

The complex challenges faced by the Security Council in orchestrating responses to crises which preserve the integrity of humanitarian action is complicated when regional and sub-regional organizations are involved.(20) The involvement of such organizations is in principle a welcome development. Encouraged by An Agenda for Peace and its supplement and by the organizations themselves, regional initiatives affirm the responsibility and the contribution of governments and peoples close to the crisis areas. Such undertakings may also be less expensive than UN operations. Yet at their present stage of development, the involvement of regional institutions may represent a threat to effective humanitarian action. A review of recent experience in Georgia, Liberia, Haiti, and Burundi suggests the difficulties.

The Georgia experience is particularly instructive because of the presence of four peacekeeping forces, two regional and two international.(21) In Abkhazia were stationed peacekeeping contingents from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and the UN Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG); in South Ossetia a mixed peacekeeping mission comprised of troops from Russia, Georgia, and North Ossetia as well as a mission from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

All four sets of forces, our 1995 review concluded, were successful in their primary purpose of maintaining existing cease-fires. Stabilization of the conflict zones in Abkhazia and South Ossetia reduced loss of life and facilitated humanitarian activities. In Abkhazia, however, CIS and UNOMIG personnel did not contribute significantly to creating conditions conducive to the safe and orderly return of displaced persons and refugees. CIS peacekeeping forces (containing only Russian rather than other CIS contingents) were sometimes reluctant to restrain the harassment of returning civilians, on occasion even joining in such harassment. The fact that the CIS force was formally recognized by the UN Security Council — in effect, deputized in the absence of political consensus within the Council supportive of a more expansive UN presence and role — implicated the UN in its performance. As a result, greater international involvement in the training and monitoring of such peacekeeping personnel appears essential.

Relations between regional peacekeeping forces in Liberia and UN peacekeeping and humanitarian personnel were even more problematic.(22) Responding to civil war which erupted in late 1989, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) deployed a peacekeeping contingent, the ECOWAS Cease-fire Monitoring Group (ECOMOG), in August 1990. The UN Security Council in September 1993 authorized the United Nations Observer Mission in Liberia (UNOMIL), tasking it to monitor and verify the implementation of a peace accord.

Relationships between the regional initiative and the United Nations were highly uneven and largely unsatisfactory. Among the problems were the domination of the ECOMOG initiative by Nigeria, which had its own political agenda in the region; an absence of professionalism among ECOMOG troops; and UNOMIL’s late arrival on the scene. In early 1993 relief vehicles and personnel belonging to the UN and NGOs were strafed at the Liberian border by ECOMOG aircraft in an attempt to prevent humanitarian activities in non-government controlled areas. ECOMOG also imposed and enforced a ban on the importation of relief supplies from Côte d’Ivoire. There were also serious problems within the UN family itself, including the prohibition by the UN SRSG of aid efforts, including those by the UN’s own agencies, in non-government controlled areas.

Our study therefore concluded that Liberia represented “a variation on a common theme in complex humanitarian crises. Humanitarian activities need reasonable security, which only political and military actors can provide. At the same time, [they] can be compromised by real or perceived association with political and military institutions and initiatives.” We recommended “closer international scrutiny and legitimation” of regional activities, more effective coordination among the three relevant departments of the UN secretariat, and a strengthened DHA role.(23) In the case of the crisis created in late September 1991 by the seizure of power from the elected authorities in Haiti, the UN moved more quickly than in Georgia or Liberia to endorse and reinforce actions taken by the region. The General Assembly acted in mid-October to join the Organization of American States (OAS) in condemning the coup and denying recognition to the de facto regime. The Security Council, which initially viewed the crisis as a domestic matter, eventually played an active role, deploying international human rights monitors in a joint UN-OAS mission, universalizing the sanctions imposed by the OAS, and orchestrating diplomatic pressure for a reinstatement of the elected authorities.

Indeed, while there were rough edges in relationships between regional and multilateral organizations, the efforts of the two sets of institutions reinforced each other. “Without the OAS,” noted one of those involved, “the UN would have forgotten Haiti.” Conversely, however, the resources available to the OAS in its own right were inadequate to the multiple tasks at hand. We therefore concluded that “Regional institutions may bring to a crisis response essential elements of leadership and familiarity with political context.” At the same time, “A clearer division of labor between regional and global institutions is needed as well as standard operating and managerial procedures to orchestrate cooperation between them in joint ventures.”(24)

Most recently, economic sanctions against Burundi’s government have highlighted tensions between regional and universal bodies, as well as between political and humanitarian agendas, although in this instance no UN peacekeeping troops were involved. Following a coup d’Etat on July 25, 1996 by the Tutsi-dominated army and the installation of Major Pierre Buyoya as president, African leaders from surrounding countries imposed economic sanctions on July 31. Managed by an OAU Regional Sanctions Coordinating Committee, which at the request of UN organizations made provision for a pass-through of critical humanitarian items, the sanctions were endorsed by the UN Security Council and the European Parliament in an effort to achieve “a peaceful settlement to the Burundi crisis.”(25)

By late January, the political objectives of the sanctions remained unrealized while the humanitarian situation had deteriorated. Mass killings of Hutus by the Burundian army were reported. UN organizations stepped up their campaign for a relaxation of the sanctions, which were interfering with their programs, warning that soon “they may be forced to buy fuel on the black market or suspend operations. If this happens 150,000 displaced people, returnees and other vulnerable groups will not receive the food rations they require.” Also affected would be tens of thousands of malnourished children, hospitalized persons depending on imported and refrigerated medicines and vaccines, and others awaiting the distribution of seeds, fertilizers, water and sanitation supplies. The OAU defended the continuation of sanctions as humanitarian in their own terms and a necessary response to a “multiplication of human rights violations.” (26)

Experience during the Nineties involving regional organizations thus indicates that despite their positive potential, there is need for attention to such issues as policy objectives, comparative advantage, financing, professionalism, and accountability. The evidence suggests that the international community cannot expect highly professional performance from regional organizations and effective interfacing with UN security and humanitarian activities without playing a greater role in strengthening, financing, and monitoring such institutions.

Orchestrating operational coordination

Experience during the early post-Cold War years suggests a variety of challenges in orchestrating effective operational coordination between humanitarian action and peacekeeping activities. “With the arrival of the multi-task, multi-component peace support operations of recent years, the UN has found itself with a wide range of responsibilities which are designated ‘political,’ ‘civil’ or ‘humanitarian,’ as well as military,” observes one seasoned UN veteran.(27)

In the words of one of our own studies, “Post-Cold War crises are no longer simple affairs of single cause or single response. The political, military, human rights, and humanitarian dimensions, as well as the economic and development implications, now all come together like an accordion.”(28) Possibilities and problems alike emerge at the interfaces between (a) humanitarian action and the civilian aspects of peacekeeping operations, (b) between such action and the military side of peacekeeping operations, and (c) between the political and the military aspects of such operations themselves. There are two major intersections of humanitarian action and the civilian functions of peacekeeping operations: the substantial involvement of peacekeeping personnel in what may broadly be considered the humanitarian sphere, and the pursuit of agreed upon political objectives by such operations.

The involvement of peacekeeping personnel in the humanitarian sphere is demonstrated by the operation in Cambodia. The United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) was given wide-ranging responsibilities by the Paris Agreements for overseeing governmental machinery in five key areas: foreign affairs; public security; national defense; finance; and information. Becoming operational on March 15, 1992 at a time when Cambodia lacked a government accepted by all Cambodians, UNTAC was designed to be “a kind of quasi-governor-in-trust of an entire sovereign country.”(29) UNTAC organized its work into seven components: military affairs, civil administration, civilian police, elections, human rights, repatriation, and rehabilitation. The military component, headed by the Force Commander, reported to the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG). The other six components reported to the Deputy SRSG, who had equal rank with that of the Force Commander. Of the 22,000 UNTAC personnel, some 15,900 were in the military component. The remaining 6,000 were divided among the other components, including 3,600 civilian police monitors and 1,000 international electoral monitoring personnel.

Two areas of major tension between humanitarian action and peacekeeping emerged, areas which have proved a recurring problem in other such operations. The first concerned the relative balance of humanitarian and peacekeeping personnel. Clearly, the presence of large military and CIVPOL contingents made far more personnel available than in humanitarian-only interventions. UN troops added an element of safety for humanitarian activities but were ultimately overmatched by local forces and compromised by a lack of professionalism among some contingents.

Meanwhile, many CIVPOL monitors lacked the necessary training and skills for their tasks, which in this instance included independent policing functions as well as the more normal supervisory functions. Human rights monitors arrived slowly, were stretched too thinly in some provinces for their tasks, and in some instances lacked the requisite background and experience. As in other peacekeeping operations, the relatively low priority for human rights drew much criticism.

Similar problems emerged in Haiti. The U.S. Multinational Force and the UN Mission in Haiti were composed primarily of military personnel. However, “oversight of police functions rapidly became more important than military tasks. Yet little attention was devoted to ensuring that the modest complement of CIVPOL personnel was adequately trained and deployed for its delicate role. This gap exacerbated the totally inadequate penal and judiciary systems, which themselves should have been the object of greater outside efforts.”(30)

The second and related area concerns recurring tensions between the timetables for the respective components. Promoting durable changes in the area of human rights, law and order, and reconstruction is a far more ambitious endeavor than providing emergency relief or even holding elections, difficult though that latter task be. UNTAC’s most successful work was in repatriation, which was also the most short-term and well-defined of its seven tasks. Although UN personnel in human rights and reconstruction remained behind, their efforts lacked sufficient priority after UNTAC, as they had during the peacekeeping operation as well.

A similar tension emerged in the case of the UN Observer Mission in El Salvador (ONUSAL), where frictions developed between UN officials with a short-term and essentially political mandate and their colleagues on the development side whose responsibilities required longer-term involvement. The Secretary-General, in the interest of easing financial and political burdens on the Salvadoran government, overruled UNDP and FAO recommendations regarding the scale and pace of land transfers to returning refugees.(31) As in Cambodia, a politically driven calendar for wrapping up the peacekeeping operation quickly meant that long-standing problems identified by aid personnel remained to be addressed after UN political emissaries and soldiers had departed.

In Mozambique, the difficulty of synchronizing multi-sectoral international involvement was framed by SRSG Ajello in the following terms: “In a peacekeeping operation, therefore, the development approach is just not applicable. UN peace keepers do not have time to follow that approach. They must ensure that things move as fast as possible and, thus, they must undertake many of the tasks which under normal circumstances would be carried out by the government or the local people.”(32) For their part, some UN Volunteers assigned to peacekeeping operations in Mozambique, Cambodia, and elsewhere have expressed the view that a longer term approach would have allowed the political gains of such operations to be more fully consolidated.(33)

Tensions such as these involving resource allocations and time frames point to the larger structural problem of harmonizing humanitarian and human rights activities within the political context provided by UN peacekeeping operations. Thus in Bosnia, pressure from human rights quarters to prosecute leaders for abuses encountered resistance from diplomats intent on wresting support from some of those same leaders for a negotiated settlement to the conflict. A similar tension exists within the activities of humanitarian organizations, some of whom seek both to protect and advocate for human rights while carrying out assistance programs which require the cooperation, or at least the acquiescence, of the authorities.

Turning to the second of the three interfaces, orchestrating effective coordination between humanitarian action and the military side of peacekeeping operations in specific involves recurring challenges, highlighted in particular by the Rwanda experience. Our study reviewed what we concluded “promises to be a watershed event in the international community’s use of military forces in the humanitarian sphere.”(34) Troops were committed in 1994 to the Rwanda crisis in three separate frameworks, each interfacing with humanitarian actors.

The UN Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR) was a peacekeeping initiative under Chapter VI of the UN Charter. French and U.S. troops were committed as part of two stand-alone missions: in Opération Turquoise, under Chapter VII in a primarily security mission with some humanitarian elements, and in Operation Support Hope, a purely humanitarian effort without a security component. A third set of military forces was comprised of national contingents enlisted by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to provide packages of humanitarian support services.

We identified three broad functions performed by the military in the humanitarian sphere: fostering a climate of security for civilian populations and humanitarian organizations; supporting the work of such agencies; and the direct provision of services to those in need. The balance sheet in the Rwanda crisis had both positives and negatives. On the positive side, military assets were a resource which, coming at a time when humanitarian resources were overextended, were harnessed to meet otherwise unmet needs. On the negative, the military proved an unwieldy humanitarian instrument due to such factors as its preoccupation with “force protection” and its support of “an agenda and timetable driven by considerations external to the dynamics of the humanitarian crisis itself.”(35)

Particularly sobering was our finding that international troops were least available for, and least effective in, the first of these tasks — providing security — precisely their area of undisputed comparative advantage. Moreover, we anticipated that in the future, the second and third of the roles were the most likely to be replicated, to the possible detriment of the security-fostering function. Our study concluded that “when serving as a humanitarian resource, the military are not free agents but an instrument responsive to political decisions, priorities, and timetables. Comparative advantages otherwise enjoyed by military assets may thus be constrained by political disadvantages inherent in their utilization.”(36)

Also sobering was our conclusion that the interface between humanitarian and military actors was by and large better managed in the Rwanda theater than elsewhere, despite the difficulties noted. While there were some occasional rough edges, tensions did not erupt in events such as one in Bosnia in which a UN general sought to provide a convoy escort for relief vehicles which UNHCR, for its own reasons, had decided not to send, with the UN Secretary-General then weighing in on the side of the general and directing that humanitarian aid be provided despite the considered judgment of the agency. Many of the difficulties experience by humanitarian organizations in Somalia, whether dealing with UNOSOM forces or the U.S. Rangers, were also avoided in Rwanda.

The Rwanda experience also illuminates the challenge at the third interface: that of orchestrating coordination between the political and military aspects of peacekeeping operations themselves. Tensions have emerged between force commanders and the SRSGs to whom they report, often related to their terms of engagement. As Belgian General Briquemont has observed with special reference to his experience in the Former Yugoslavia, “The international community is generous with its mandates but reluctant with its resources.”(37)

In the case of Rwanda, UNAMIR’s first Force Commander Roméo Dallaire found himself dealing with both an ineffective SRSG in Kigali and unresponsive interlocutors in the UN secretariat and Security Council in New York. The UN failed to respond to warnings conveyed from the field regarding the planning of a coup and of a campaign of genocide. When these events erupted in April and the position of UNAMIR troops and humanitarian personnel was overwhelmed, Dallaire failed to receive the necessary political or military support.

The particulars of the Rwanda response and of other UN peacekeeping operations in which there have been disconnects between the military and political sides of the UN house have been chronicled elsewhere. Our review of the Rwanda experience suggested that “the commitment of military forces runs the risk of serving less as an expression of well-considered international concern than as an indication of the lack of serious and effective commitment. To achieve their full potential, military assets, like humanitarian resources themselves, need to serve effective strategies not only of rescue and relief but also of conflict prevention and conflict resolution, reconstruction and development, reconciliation and peace.”(38)

Administrative arrangements for managing these three interfaces have evolved in recent years. A variation of the UNTAC approach, in which the Deputy SRSG coordinated the work of the UN’s humanitarian organizations, was used in Haiti. There, the Force Commander himself reported to the Deputy SRSG, who was also the UNDP resident coordinator and DHA humanitarian coordinator. By all accounts, this arrangement worked much better, both within the UN’s humanitarian organizations and between them and military personnel. The Haiti “model” thus may lend itself to further replication, although, implemented for the first time in late 1994, it was not put to the test during the three years of de facto rule, a time of some intra-UN disarray.(39)

The appointment of humanitarian civil affairs officers within peacekeeping operations and the creation of joint (or integrated) operations centers have been also helped orchestrate cooperation. In UNPROFOR, such officers became increasingly useful points of contact between UN military, humanitarian, and political units. Joint operations centers, too, have progressed some distance since initially used in northern Iraq. In Rwanda, they acquitted themselves well, although the best efforts of international humanitarian and military actors did not succeed in averting the tragedy which occurred in April 1995 at the Kibeho camp, when an untold number of Hutu refugees were massacred by the Rwandan army.(40)

In sum, recurrent difficulties at these three interfaces underscore the importance of clearly conceptualizing and orchestrating effective operation relationships between and among the humanitarian, military, and political dimensions of peacekeeping operations. An appropriate conclusion is drawn by my colleague Jarat Chopra in an article which helpfully identifies several distinct aspects of peace operations which, for simplicity sake, are treated in the present paper under the broad heading of peacekeeping.

“‘Multifunctional’ [undertakings] must be understood to mean the integration of diplomatic, military and humanitarian activities in an overall political strategy for UN operations. The umbrella framework that coordinates these elements will need to be the UN administrator as politician if complex transition arrangements in internal conflicts are to be successful. The tasks of political administration are ultimately the glue that maintains the coherence of a comprehensive strategy. If any of the diplomatic, military or humanitarian aspects of operations dominates the others, an imbalance results from the vacuum of subordinated elements.”(41)

Accommodating structural constraints

Much of the experience analyzed in this essay has illuminated the nature of the United Nations as an organization comprised of member states. The contours of UN presence in complex emergencies reflect the perceived interests of states, which provide the political framework within which humanitarian action and peacekeeping operations proceed. “The UN can commit to a humanitarian peace support operation only through the agency of its member states,” notes one analyst, “and this is in turn contingent upon such factors as existing military commitments and the readiness of military forces, domestic political considerations and perceived national interest.”(42)

Member States influence not only the shape of the UN’s presence in some complex emergencies but also its relative or total absence in others. In the case of Chechnya, the United Nations opted out on both the diplomatic and humanitarian fronts. On the diplomatic side, the international community was reluctant to press the Russian Federation toward a negotiated settlement to the war. Its reticence, reflecting a larger cluster of political, security, and economic considerations, led to the marginalization of the Chechnya conflict on the world stage. The same lack of international political will that has sidelined the UN has limited the diplomatic role played by the OSCE.

On the humanitarian front, UN organizations responded to a request by the Russian Federation in December 1994 to provide humanitarian assistance in the republics bordering Chechnya. They set up operations in Dagestan, Ingushetia, and North Ossetia but did not challenge their exclusion by the Russian authorities from Chechnya proper. “Although some UN officials were anxious to provide assistance and protection, no available evidence suggests that UN organizations pressed Moscow for permission to work inside Chechnya at any time during the war.”(43)

In reality, the title of the UN “Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal for Persons Displaced as a Result of the Emergency Situation in Chechnya” was therefore somewhat misleading: it included no funds for displaced persons within Chechnya. The UN failed to find a way to assess their needs and include them in the Appeal. At least one major NGO left Chechnya and the region because of a lack of available funds for work inside Chechnya. We concluded that, reflecting the absence of the UN in Chechnya itself, “Humanitarian action was more effective where the need was less urgent.”(44)

The UN’s absence from insurgent areas reflects the centuries-old organization of the international system along nation-state lines. One of the prerogatives of sovereignty as traditionally understood has been to control access to areas under domestic jurisdiction. Until recently, that authority has remained largely unchallenged. While the rationale for barring UN presence is clear — or, for the UN itself choosing to keep its distance — absence has its perils, for the intergovernmental community and sovereign authorities alike.

In the case of Cambodia, one of the costs of a decade-long suspension of trade and aid was that “most UN organizations and donor governments had been unable to form their own picture of the extent of human need or contribute to its alleviation.” Gearing up for involvement after the Paris Agreements, most of them had to start from scratch. The exceptions were UNHCR, UNICEF, and WFP, which had maintained their involvement during the period in which the Khmer Rouge held Cambodia’s UN seat.(45)

Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS) in 1989 demonstrated that the international community, led by the United Nations, could find ways to implement the humanitarian imperative and meet human need in settings where political authority was contested. Under UNICEF’s lead, access was negotiated with all parties for humanitarian operations in all areas. Yet at the outset OLS itself had difficulty in gaining access for UN personnel to insurgent controlled areas. “For the UN no less than for governments, insurgent-held territory had been terra incognita.” Unable to base its well-subscribed international appeal for funds on needs assessment in such areas, the UN’s involvement in Operation Lifeline proved, in the words of one official, “a voyage of discovery.”(46) The problem highlighted in the Sudan is indeed a generic one. We recommended in 1990 that the terms of reference of the UN’s humanitarian organizations “should specify that data gathering or assistance in insurgent-controlled areas does not imply recognition of the legitimacy of the insurgency.”(47)

In the absence of progress in this regard, the UN five years later was unable to respond to needs within Nagorno-Karabakh, leaving suffering unaddressed within the jurisdiction and setting back the pace of resolving the conflict itself.(48)

Another lesson identified from the Sudan experience also remains to be assayed. Operation Lifeline Sudan was more effective in its initial six months when administered from New York than thereafter when the shifting of its administrative nexus to Khartoum undermined the perception of its impartiality in the eyes of the insurgents. The value of “coordinating activities from a location removed from each party in a civil war”(49) has been confirmed to one extent or another in UN operations such as those for the Former Yugoslavia based in Zagreb and for Angola based in Luanda, where the basing of aid activities has created a perception of partiality.

In the light of serious structural difficulties such as these posed for the United Nations by internal armed conflicts, it may be useful to suggest several possible ways of proceeding. One would be to promote a clearer sense of the inherent limitations on humanitarian action by the UN in such settings. The United Nations itself might well acknowledge what the experience clearly documents: that there are circumstances in which its own humanitarian agencies should not attempt to carry out their missions. Former WFP Executive Director James Ingram observed several years ago that there was “no reason” why a coordinated international response to future complex emergencies “should be built around the United Nations,” and a variety of reasons why such a response should not. His personal candidates were the ICRC or a new organization outside the UN.(50)

Acknowledging that the world body itself need not be in the center of every humanitarian and peacekeeping initiative may in turn clear the way for alternative arrangements for circumstances in which the UN itself has difficulty becoming present. These may involve deputizing existing institutions or creating new ones. Our conclusion seven years ago regarding the Sudan is equally valid for other conflicts: “Given the limited access of most UN personnel to insurgent areas, the UN’s need assessment role should often be carried out in partnership with NGOs.”(51) It may also be possible to make changes within the UN itself. Reflecting on experience in the Former Yugoslavia, we urged discussion of “the need for a new institutional capacity within the U.N. to provide assistance and protection when economic sanctions or military enforcement are carried out under Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter.”(52) Our suggestion that in such circumstances, the UN’s traditional aid agencies step aside rather than compromises their bona fides was not welcomed by the aid agencies themselves. Yet their understandable response — that whenever and wherever people are suffering, we have to be there — may warrant review.

Greater clarity about the humanitarian mandates of the UN’s own organizations might enable them to play an expanded role in internal armed conflicts. The principles embodied in Operation Lifeline Sudan could serve the entire system well: that all persons in need are entitled to assistance, irrespective of whether they find themselves in government- or insurgent-controlled areas, and that such assistance does not confer recognition upon the claims of any political or military contenders.

The integrity of the UN’s own humanitarian organizations could also be enhanced if they were treated as full partners within the United Nations system. Subjecting them to stricter groundrules than the UN’s peacekeeping operations, as in the former Yugoslavia, conveyed the message of second-class citizenship within the UN family. If UN soldiers are to be exempted from the controls on imports imposed under an economic sanctions regime, UN aid organizations should themselves be able to import essential items.

Enhancing accountability

This review has demonstrated the need for greater effectiveness in the functioning of the United Nations system on matters of humanitarian action and peacekeeping operations. At issue are both greater professionalism on the part of individual staff and greater accountability among the institutions involved.

The post-Cold War experience highlights a lack of professionalism on the part of those involved. On the humanitarian side, NGOs in the Gulf crisis, for example, demonstrated recurrent insensitivity, including examples of the provision of “food that was unacceptable to local tastes and Muslim sensitivities, of offensive staff deportment, of proselytization and unseemly jockeying for visibility and exposure, of commercialism and opportunism.”(53) Five years later, history repeated itself in Goma. On the peacekeeping side, illicit practices by national troop contingents in Sarajevo and Cambodia have been documented and investigated. Malfeasance by Canadian peace keepers in Somalia has been the subject of a court-martial and has occasioned great anguish in Canada.

More difficult to identify than obvious breaches of conduct are issues of judgment: whether to commit troops or aid personnel to a given area, whether to pay bribes at a given roadblock or ransom to retrieve captured staff, whether to suspend operations in response to one provocation or another. Judgment calls are also involved in whether to hire local or international staff, whether to invest in cultivating the local and regional media, whether to use overland or air transport for relief supplies, whether to assign limited seats on agency aircraft to medics or the media. For many such circumstances, guidelines do not exist, rendering accountability difficult. When the lives of international personnel are lost, it may be unclear whether at issue was a failure of individual or organizational judgment, an absence of coordinated international strategies, a lack of respect for humanitarian values by local parties, bad luck, or some combination of these and other factors.

The ingredients of the professionalism needed to function in highly politicized settings, whether with humanitarian or peacekeeping portfolios, have become more clear over time. Reviewing the challenges of creating and maintaining humanitarian access in the conflicts in Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala, we concluded in 1993 that “[E]ven the most seasoned humanitarian organizations and officials were often unable to succeed in the face of events frequently beyond their abilities to control. More often than not, the ability to get things done depended as much on interpersonal skills as on technical competence. Surmounting the obstacles to access required nuanced judgments that placed diplomatic skills at a premium. Labyrinthine civilian bureaucracies and military hierarchies, more resistant in a climate of suspicion and danger, demanded extraordinary levels of patience, resolve, ingenuity, and firmness. In their absence, humanitarian resources would not be translated into effective operational programs.”(54)

In our review of the use of military assets in Rwanda the following year, we concluded that “whether the actors are military or humanitarian, [s]uccessful efforts are generally carried out by dedicated and energetic professionals who are well-informed about the complexities of a given situation and well-trained in their respective specialties, pragmatic rather than ideological in approach, and able to draw on institutional experience to adapt strategies and resources to circumstances.”(55) Thus a recurring recommendation has been for enhanced professionalism. We have often called for greater awareness of the local political, historical, and cultural contexts in which international personnel are required to function. Last year, our Haiti review urged that “international staff in such settings should receive far more intensive and extensive training.” We even suggested to the United Nations that “In highly politicized settings where extraordinary measures such as economic sanctions have been imposed, consideration should be given to removing existing international [aid] personnel and inserting specially trained international teams for the duration of the crisis.”(56)

Most recently, our study of the international response to the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh documented the intrusion of political factors into humanitarian action at a variety of levels, including the international, regional, and local. We recommended that steps “be taken by organizations functioning in highly politicized settings to ensure greater institutional consistency in policy, culture, training, and staff performance.” We suggested measures such as the rotation of personnel within and across the region to help prevent “clientism:” that is, the identification over time of aid officials with the political viewpoints of the host authorities.(57)

The responsibility of the individual official in the field — for example, a DHA employee in Kigali or Baku, Monrovia or Sarajevo — is difficult to establish inasmuch as the accordion-like nature of the interactions noted earlier diffuses agency responsibility. Responsibility is further blurred by the fact that DHA represents by most accounts the weak leg in the institutional tripod composed as well of the Departments of Political Affairs and Peacekeeping Operations. The frequent absence of effective advocacy in New York has often complicated the tasks of staff counterparts in the field.

The establishment of the UN Staff College, which begins formal activities later this year in Turin, is a potentially promising development. The Staff College will not train international civil servants in their respective disciplines — be they humanitarian or peacekeeping — but will focus instead on their interface. The interdisciplinary approach picks up on a number of the findings of our own research, and of those identified in the edited volume of practitioner perspectives cited throughout this paper. “For all of their differences, and their considerable institutional experience,” write the book’s editors, contributors to that volume share “a telling emphasis on the importance of individuals: the ‘chemistry’ worked by key figures; the need for a measure of autonomy and delegation without second-guessing; better, more frequent inter-community training; and the need continually to refresh headquarters staff with people of recent field experience.”(58)

In his first address to UN staff, Secretary-General Kofi Annan noted that “It is up to Member States to define what they want the United Nations to be and to do. … But it is up to us to shape this instrument of peace and progress to fit that new identity, to chart a route towards those goals, to develop the skills required to meet these challenges. … Every staff member has a part to play in this effort, above all by performing your functions to the very best of your ability.” The new Secretary-General pledged to develop “a new management culture in the Organization.”(59)


Based on the experience of practitioners, our review of humanitarian action and peacekeeping operations has identified six separate but related policy issues deserving particular attention. This concluding section assesses whether the desired synergisms between humanitarian action and peacekeeping operations have been forthcoming and whether the appropriate lessons from the experience reviewed have been institutionalized.

Responses to some recent crises have demonstrated welcome synergisms between humanitarian action and peacekeeping activities. Perhaps the richest example among our studies is the experience of Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala. Analyzing the different dynamics in each country, we concluded that “Humanitarian action has been a key element in the regional movement toward lasting peace that began in the mid-1980s. The importance of humanitarian concerns — both as an impetus to and as a beneficiary of diplomatic action — transcends the three countries involved.”(60) That said, the benefits were frequently unequal, with diplomatic and peacekeeping efforts benefiting more from humanitarian action than the reverse. That was particularly true in the case of El Salvador. “On the human needs side, ONUSAL brought only limited additional momentum to humanitarian and reconstruction activities already being carried out by UN organizations.”(61)

Since such synergisms exist, they can surely be encouraged. “In a broad sense,” we concluded in 1995, “UN humanitarian activities can benefit from the accomplishments of its diplomats and troops. A rising UN tide lifts all boats. Conversely, difficulties on the UN political-military side, and in the connections with UN humanitarian institutions, can undercut the organization’s humanitarian work. The UN humanitarian enterprise is accordingly challenged to function better in its own right and to achieve a more synergistic — but also a more delimited — relationship with the UN system as a whole.”(62) By and large, the synergisms to date have proven uneven and elusive. This reflects in part the UN tendency — shared by other international institutions as well — to approach each crisis as unique. Responding several years ago to a presentation of lessons learned, one senior official cautioned us against drawing comparisons between and among complex emergencies, each of which, he said, was idiosyncratic and unique. We countered that no situation was unique, making discriminating comparisons possible and even necessary.

In our view, each crisis pits the same institutions (the United Nations, governments, NGOs) against the same protagonists (government and insurgent groups, civilian and military host officials) in a continuing effort to find solutions to recurring problems (the obstruction of humanitarian access, the manipulation of relief, inequitable economic relationships, the absence of viable and accountable local structures). As long as every crisis is perceived as wholly without precedent or parallel, there will be little scope for institutional learning. The price of reinventing the wheel with each new crisis is the repetition of mistakes and the obscuring of evident lessons.

Other features of the prevailing UN culture also inhibit the lessons-learning process. Many UN personnel feel discouraged from initiative-taking, whether by supervisors who believe that keeping a low profile is the best course of action or by governments which do not want sensitive political issues raised. Also a deterrent is the institution’s resistance to the decentralization of authority, even though fast-moving changes in the field require quick decisions.

Despite its highly centralized approach to decision-making, the UN system paradoxically has difficulty identifying and taking responsibility for failure. “Failure is not part of the institutional memory of the United Nations,” we said in our Cambodia study. “In its sanitized documents, final results are painted as initial objectives and lessons are left to be learned only from successes. Obscuring mistakes has meant they have been repeated. Reluctance to keeping U.N. history honest has slowed the development of more effective operations.”(63) Studies of effective organizational functioning suggest that failure should be faced squarely and treated as inherent in the nature of responding to complex challenges. But failure should also “carry a stigma when mistakes are repeated or suppressed [and] when available lessons are ignored and basic research is avoided.”(64)

The UN is showing greater interest these days in identifying lessons learned. The Departments of Political Affairs, Peacekeeping Operations, and Humanitarian Affairs now each have their own such units. However, evaluation tends to be approached in narrow, compartmentalized terms. One unit was recently well on its way to fielding a review of peacekeeping in Haiti without consultation. The upsurge of attention to evaluation is in fact broader, with many governments and NGOs subjecting their activities to greater scrutiny. Reviewing international operations represents a new cottage industry among think-tanks. Conferences such as the Singapore gathering are taking place with increasing regularity. Students have discovered these issues, promising a spate of theses and a new generation of analysts and practitioners.

Yet the fruits of the lessons-learned activity have yet to be reflected in discernible changes in UN culture. Nor has the welcome spate of interest in codes of conduct demonstrably improved the functioning of agencies and individuals. Within the UN, the process of institutionalizing specific reforms in structure and policy also continues to languish, although not for want of an agenda for change either among thoughtful international civil servants or constructive critics on the outside. There has been progress in a number of areas: clarifying the use of military and civilian defense assets in humanitarian operations, putting into place arrangements for the rapid mobilization of personnel as crises erupt, and reflecting more carefully on the political contextualization of humanitarian activities.

Our overall conclusion based on our studies to date, however, is that, even acknowledging the slowness with which institutional change in most institutions comes about, the pace of reform in the early post-Cold War era has been exceedingly desultory. What we wrote in 1994 remains accurate three years later: “Reacting rather than anticipating, the United Nations has made surprisingly few fundamental changes of an institutional or a policy nature.”(65) As the decade moves toward a close, moreover, the challenges faced have lost their novelty and the familiar pleas of practitioners that the territory is uncharted and the challenges unprecedented are less persuasive.

Our project is launching a multi-year study of the lessons-learning process, which will involve more detailed attention to the dynamics of, and resistance to, change in humanitarian institutions of all sorts. Our study should enable us to speak more definitively on these matters in the coming years. In the meantime, the institutional learning might be spurred if the Singapore Conference identifies an agenda for change and a process for promoting specific and overdue reforms.

Appendix I

Case Studies by the Humanitarianism and War Project


Referenced in Text Larry Minear, in collaboration with Tabyiegen Agnes Abuom, Eshetu Chole, Kosti Manibe, Abdul Mohammed, Jennefer Sebstad, and Thomas G. Weiss, A Critical Review of Operation Lifeline Sudan: A Report to the Aid Agencies. (Providence, RI: Watson Institute, 1990) [Referenced as Sudan case study]Larry Minear, U.B.P. Chelliah, Jeff Crisp, John Mackinlay, and Thomas G. Weiss, United Nations Coordination of the International Humanitarian Response to the Gulf Crisis (Providence, RI: Watson Institute, 1992). [Gulf Case Study]

Cristina Eguizábal, David Lewis, Larry Minear, Peter Sollis, and Thomas G. Weiss, Humanitarian Challenges in Central America: Learning the Lessons of Recent Armed Conflicts (Providence, RI: Watson Institute, 1993). A joint undertaking with the Arias Foundation. [Central America Case Study]

Larry Minear, Jeffrey Clark, Roberta Cohen, Dennis Gallagher, Iain Guest, and Thomas G. Weiss, Humanitarian Action in the Former Yugoslavia. [Yugoslavia Case Study]

Jarat Chopra, United Nations Authority in Cambodia (Providence, RI: Watson Institute, 1994). [Cambodia Case Study]

Colin Scott, Larry Minear, and Thomas G. Weiss, Humanitarian Action and Security in Liberia 1989-1994 (Providence, RI: Watson Institute, 1995) [Liberia Case Study]

S. Neil MacFarlane, Larry Minear, and Stephen D. Shenfield, Armed Conflict in Georgia: A Case Study in Humanitarian Action and Peacekeeping (Providence, RI: Watson Institute, 1995). [Georgia Case Study]

Robert Maguire, Edwige Balutansky, Jacques Fomerand, Larry Minear, William G. O’Neill, Thomas G. Weiss, and Sarah Zaidi, Haiti Held Hostage: International Responses to the Quest for Nationhood 1986-1996 (Providence, RI: Watson Institute, 1996). A joint undertaking with the United Nations University. [Haiti Case Study]

Antonio Donini, The Policies of Mercy: UN Coordination in Afghanistan, Mozambique, and Rwanda (Providence, RI: Watson Institute, 1996). [Coordination Study]

Larry Minear and Philippe Guillot, Soldiers to the Rescue: Humanitarian Lessons from Rwanda (Paris: OECD, 1996). A joint undertaking with the Development Centre of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. [Rwanda Case Study]

Greg Hansen and Robert Seely, War and Humanitarian Action in Chechnya (Providence, RI: Watson Institute, 1996). [Chechnya Case Study]

S. Neil MacFarlane and Larry Minear, Humanitarian Action and Politics: The Case of Nagorno-Karabakh (Providence, RI: Watson Institute, 1997). [Nagorno-Karabakh Case Study]


1. The author wishes to thank two colleagues at the Thomas J. Watson Jr. Institute for International Studies at Brown University for their comments on the issues treated in this paper: Thomas G. Weiss, Professor (Research), the Institute’s Associate Director, and Co-director of the Humanitarianism and War Project, and Jarat Chopra, Research Associate and Lecturer.

2. The materials presented rely on the Project’s own research, with the exception of quotations from a recently published volume, Jim Whitman and David Pocock, After Rwanda: The Coordination of United Nations Humanitarian Assistance (London and New York: MacMillan Press and St. Martin’s Press, 1996) This compendium, like the Project itself, gives full scope to the reflections by those who themselves have participated in the management of international responses to complex emergencies.

3. An examination of different paradigms of this relationship is the subject of Larry Minear and Thomas G. Weiss, Humanitarian Politics (New York: Foreign Policy Association, 1995). For an elaboration of the integration, insulation, and separation approaches, cf. Larry Minear, “The Evolving Humanitarian Enterprise,” in Thomas G. Weiss, The United Nations and Civil Wars, (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 1993), pp. 89-106.

4. Boutros Boutros-Ghali, An Agenda for Peace 1995 (New York: United Nations, 2nd edition), 43.

5. Aldo Romano Ajello, “The Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance in Mozambique in the Context of ONUMOZ,” in Whitman and Pocock, op. cit., 199-200.

6. Jim Whitman, “The Political Limits of Humanitarian Assistance,” ibid., 12.

7. For an elaboration of the nature of humanitarian action, cf. Larry Minear and Thomas G. Weiss, Mercy Under Fire: War and the Global Humanitarian Community (Boulder: Westview, 1995).

8. Department of Humanitarian Affairs, “Respect for Humanitarian Mandates in Conflict Situations,” (New York: UN, 1996), pp. 1,3, 6.

9. Sudan Case Study, 43.

10. Cedric Thornberry, “Peacekeepers, Humanitarian Aid and Civil Conflicts,” in Whitman and Pocock, op. cit., 227.

11. Minear-Weiss, Humanitarian Politics, op. cit., p. 40. Pp. 36-42 contain a more extended discussion of humanitarian action as substitute.

12. Op.cit., p. 42.

13. Haiti Case Study, 115.

14. For a more extended discussion, cf. Rwanda Case Study, chapter 5.

15. Claudia von Braunmühl and Manfred Kulessa, The Impact of UN Sanctions on Humanitarian Assistance Activities (Berlin: Gesellschaft für Communication Management, December 1995), iii.

16. For a more extended review of these issues, cf. Thomas G. Weiss, Larry Minear, George Lopez, and David Cortright (eds.), Political Gain and Civilian Pain: The Humanitarian Impacts of Economic Sanctions (Rowman & Littlefield, 1997 forthcoming). The volume contains reviews of the impacts of multilateral sanctions in South Africa, Iraq, the former Yugoslavia, and Haiti, along with an analysis of substantive and methodological issues related to measuring political effectiveness and humanitarian impacts.

17. The Humanitarianism and War Project is currently collaborating with the Kroc Institute for International Studies of the University of Notre Dame and the Fourth Freedom Forum of Goshen, Indiana to prepare a report at the request of DHA for the UN InterAgency Standing Committee (IASC) on ways to enhance the capacity of the UN system to manage sanctions programs.

18. Ibid., p. 92.

19. Rwanda Case Study, 40.

20. Several studies by the Watson Institute have examined this area of concern. A new study to be published later in the year in a special issue of the Third World Quarterly and thereafter by London: MacMillan is Thomas G. Weiss and Edwin M. Smith (eds.), Beyond UN Subcontracting: Task-sharing with Regional Arrangements and Service-Providing NGOs.

21. Cf. Georgia Case Study and also S. Neil MacFarlane, “On the Front Lines in the Near Abroad: The CIS and OSCE in Georgia’s Civil Wars,” in Weiss-Smith, op.cit. (forthcoming).

22. Cf. Liberia Case Study. For an extended discussion, see Clement Adibe, “The Liberian Conflict and the ECOWAS-UN Partnership,” in Weiss-Smith, op.cit. (forthcoming).

23. ibid., 35, 42-43.

24. Haiti Case Study, 90-91.

25. UN Security Council Resolution 1072, August 30, 1996.

26. DHA Integrated Regional Information Network [IRIN] Emergency Update No. 85 on the Great Lakes, January 23, 1997.

27. Cedric Thornberry, op. cit., 227.

28. Coordination Study, 122.

29. Cambodia Case Study, 12.

30. Haiti Case Study, 101.

31. Central America Case Study, 51.

32. Ajello, op. cit., 202.

33. For the reflections of nine UNVs on their service in UN peacekeeping operations, cf. United Nations Volunteers, Volunteers Against Conflict (Tokyo, New York, and Paris: UNU Press, 1996). The volume, a joint undertaking by UNV and the Humanitarianism and War Project, contains an introduction and conclusions by Larry Minear and Thomas G. Weiss.

34. Rwanda Case Study, 13.

35. Ibid., 160.

36. Ibid., 151.

37. Ibid., footnote 21, p. 94.

38. Ibid., 16.

39. Cf. Haiti Case Study, 29-57, 107-108.

40. For a review of the incident, cf. Larry Minear and Randolph Kent, “Internally Displaced Persons within Rwanda: A Conundrum within a Conundrum,” in Francis M. Deng and Robert Cohen, eds., Masses in Flight, (Washington, D.C.: The Brookings Institution, forthcoming).

41. Jarat Chopra, “The space of peace-maintenance,” Political Geography, Vol. 15, No. 3/4, 355.

42. Whitman, op. cit., 4.

43. Chechnya Case Study, 60.

44. Ibid, 53.

45. Cambodia Case Study, 60.

46. Sudan Case Study, 18.

47. Sudan Case Study, 33.

48. Cf. Nagorno-Karabakh Case Study.

49. Sudan Case Study, 44.

50. James Ingram, “The Future Architecture for International Humanitarian Assistance,” in Thomas G. Weiss and Larry Minear, eds., Humanitarianism Across Borders: Sustaining Civilians in Times of War (Boulder, CO and London: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1993), 171-193.

51. Sudan Case Study, 32.

52. Yugoslavia Case Study, 92-103, 133.

53. Gulf Case Study, 35.

54. Central America Case Study, 31.

55. Rwanda Case Study, 161.

56. Haiti Case Study 107-108.

57. Nagorno-Karabakh Case Study, Chapter 5.

58. Whitman and Pocock, op. cit., xx.

59. United Nations, “Secretary-General urges staff to strive for excellence, stressing UN performance will turn detractors in to supporters.” Press Release SG/SM/6140, January 9, 1997.

60. Central America Case Study, xi.

61. ibid., 67.

62. Larry Minear, “The Evolving Humanitarian Enterprise,” in Weiss, op.cit., p. 91.

63. Cambodia Case Study, 49.

64. Ian Smillie, “NGOs and Development Assistance: A Change in Mindset,” in Weiss-Smith, op.cit. (forthcoming).

65. Ibid., 90.

One Response to Humanitarian Action and Peacekeeping Operations

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