Pär Eriksson is an analyst and project leader with the Swedish National Defence Research Establishment (FOA). Currently he leads a project on the emerging European military crisis management structures, supporting the Swedish upcoming chairmanship of the European Union. Since 1994 he has been involved with projects concerning Sweden’s participation in peace support operations. He has published reports and papers on among other areas civil-military co-ordination, on the use of intelligence in peace support operations, on interoperability and on terrorism as a result of increasing international involvement. Pär Eriksson is a founding member and on the Board of Directors of the Swedish Defence Science Society. This article was presented for the Cornwallis IV conference in April 1999 and was first published in Swedish in 1998.


After the end of the cold war, the world community has had to deal with a number of military conflicts that are also humanitarian catastrophes. This type of conflict, sometimes labelled a ”complex emergency” is characterised by a situation that includes refugees, starvation and armed conflict. Furthermore, the immediate need for humanitarian aid is often linked to the need for long-term reconstruction and/or development as well as political and military efforts to suppress the level of conflict. The situation is also often worsened by nationalistic and ethnic overtones leading to massacres and violence towards the civilian population and old wounds that are almost impossible to reconcile.

The military and political situation is volatile and hostilities arise at the same rate that agreements are broken and new alliances are formed. The international operation has to balance an extremely unstable system. This demands co-ordinated military and civilian operations. Up until today, results have not been encouraging.

This paper sets out to analyse the nature of the problems of civil-military co-ordination and to suggest a possible way to carry the discussion forward in the form of a new institution. The analysis begins by looking at the relations between the local leadership and the international operation and then moves on to identify a number of different problems affecting the possibilities to co-ordinate civilian and military operations.

International peace operations as a threat to the authority of the local leadership

Before we proceed to discuss the problems of implementing civil operations and civil-military co-ordination, in this chapter we shall study in outline how the support of the civilian population affects the factions’ ability to wage war and how it affects their relations with international operations. The conclusions of this chapter are relevant to the paper’s later discussions of the kind of problems which civil operations can run up against and how civil operations might be used to control the conflict.

Need for support of the local population

Leaders or groups may have a wide variety of reasons for wanting to prolong the armed struggle. They may view it as a way to maintain their position of power, of ensuring their personal income from smuggling, the black market and arms sales, of avoiding being tried and convicted for various misdemeanours including war crimes, of recapturing land previously lost, or of protecting their people from a real or perceived threat, etc.[1]

A faction without the support of the civilian population in a civil war[2] loses not only its political mandate, but also access to important and crucial resources such as protection, soldiers and maintenance, and it risks becoming entirely dependent on external resources and support. Experiences from the low intensity conflicts of post war years show that groups in this situation – with low internal support and therefore dependent on the outside world – have seldom succeeded in achieving their overall goals.[3]

The support of the local population for these leaders or groups can be an effect of the genuine will of the population to support a force in opposition to one or other form of repressor or threat (dictator, occupying power, hostile group). However, in certain cases the support can be more artificially conjured up by these leaders or groups.

Fear as a cornerstone in the power base of local groups

To create a feeling of external (or internal) threat and crisis could be a possibility for the leadership to gain a larger freedom of movement.[4] In a conflict where the borders of warfare follow clearly defined ethnic or nationalistic lines, this fear appears to be easier to achieve and maintain, and far more difficult to eradicate than in conflicts between ideological factions[5].

In those cases where war is not tangible it is a question of holding on to an old threat or of creating a new one. In Bosnia after Dayton this mainly took place via rhetoric linked to various forms of action. A typical event during spring and summer 1996 in Bosnia was the following:[6] the federation attempts to transport citizens (Muslims) over to the Bosnian-Serb side in order to visit or take up residence in their native villages. At the border they meet a “spontaneous” Serbian demonstration sparking off various types of hand-to-hand fighting. Finally the groups are parted by international troops and everything returns to “normal”. Afterwards the Muslim leadership is able to say that the international forces are incapable of protecting Muslims making their way home, and the Serb leadership can claim that it is only a strong Serb frontier which is preventing hordes of Muslims from swarming in across the “border” to rape and pillage. From both sides the implicit broadcast message is “think carefully about who you are voting for…”[7]

A further step in this direction is to attack one’s own civilian population either to put the blame on the opposing side or to scare the people into obedience. This is a high-risk tactic which might result in a decrease in support, yet the information situation is often such that if any contrary interpretation of the event should emerge it is quickly drowned out by the “party line” media.[8] Furthermore it may be difficult for the population to believe that their own side would carry out indiscriminate attacks against their own people, and even if such an insight were possible there are, in any case, few or no alternative forces to turn to.

Attacks on civilians of this kind take place in almost all types of conflict, not least those of a civil war nature. Frightening people into silence or co-operation has taken place in Malaysia, Northern Ireland, and Algeria, as well as in Bosnia and Somalia. To carry out attacks on those one says to represent in order to lay the blame directly or indirectly on the other side was a tactic of the Baader-Meinhof gang and other left wing terrorist groups in the 70s[9], for both sides in Malaysia in the 50s[10], and for the factions in Bosnia.[11] Whether the tactic is successful or not depends partly on whether the population considers that they have a substantial opposing force to turn to[12] and on the extent to which the active party has the media under control.

Creating trust between the local groups

To rekindle trust between factional civilian populations when a conflict is in progress has proved to be virtually impossible. This is especially true if the conflict has involved massacres or attacks, together with extensive propaganda and an ethnic or nationalist mobilisation. The feeling of a potential threat and danger to one’s own life and those of one’s relatives and friends and the survival of the entire nation are then too great.[13]

Even when conflict has died down the task is difficult, but it is not impossible. One of the most vital preconditions is pure physical security – before this has been achieved no other type of security (economic, social, political) will have the desired effect. Rebuilding houses owned by refugees without at the same time creating reasonable conditions for their safety means at best that the house is never used because its owners refuse to return, and at worst that the owners are killed and the house is once again destroyed.[14]

From this point of view the military operation assumes a somewhat changed role. From that of a force to keep down the level of violence between the factions to that of a force to keep down the level of violence (and threats of violence) of the factions towards each other’s and their own civilian population. The distinction is important, and not without extensive implications. It may, for example, involve a form of policing which the military have previously gone to some lengths to avoid.[15]

Furthermore, besides development and reconstruction, a long-term process to create trust through generations must be set in motion. This may involve various types of local/regional verification regimes, various types of guarantees for political power-sharing, mutual respect for languages, religion and culture, etc.[16] This is a process which spans a very long time and requires significant willingness and care on the part of the factions: systems which do not function must be changed, power-sharing which has become out of date must be re-worked. At its root is always physical security. If the factions trust each other there is a relatively large amount of space for adjustments and co-operation: if they mistrust each other, that space is minimal.[17] If necessary an external party (organisation or state) might be able to help to develop such a growth in trust by guaranteeing security for the factions.[18] In such a case, a continuing military presence might also be given the role of guarantor for this development, with the ability to use sanctions if necessary, or in severe cases, force.

In both phases it is evident that promoting peace and confidence between parties in a sensitive region demands a well-functioning co-ordination between military and civilian operations.[19]

Local leaders’ opposition to international operations

Work towards long-term development and trust is made more difficult if there are groups and/or leaders who are more or less openly negative to such a development, for example for the reasons discussed in earlier sections. Such groups/leaders can sabotage the work directly, by resuming conflict, or make continuing negotiations impossible (UNITA in Angola 1994, Khmer Rouge in Cambodia 1993-97), or indirectly, by maintaining a war atmosphere in various ways, e.g. through propaganda in controlled media (the factions in Bosnia 1996-97). They can also counteract efforts towards peace in a more subtle way, by preventing civil operations from working or making them more difficult, e.g. through not giving any political support to the work of reconstruction. Finally, they can use force (military attacks, terrorism) against the international operation, or try to create a situation in the troop contributing states where the troop contributors decide that the prize (political, economical, and/or human) is to high.[20]

This leads us to the question of how the international community should co-operate with leaders/factions who are seen as responsible for wars and/or attacks or who have worked against the peace process. Co-operation can give such factions prestige and power both in the eyes of their own people and in parts of the rest of the world, and thus the risk is great that shady characters are given the power to influence ongoing developments.[21]

The counter argument is that for negotiations to take place one is dependent on negotiating with someone who genuinely has some form of mandate (official or unofficial) from the people to carry on such negotiations. Is, for example, Arafat the person who controls developments in the Israeli occupied areas, and does he have a mandate to speak for the Palestinian people?

It is not easy to find a simple and moral solution. At the extreme one can dispose with shady characters altogether (as in Germany following the second world war, at least in respect of the highest political and military leadership, or the attempt to dispose of the war lord Aidid in Somalia) or accept them as legitimate representatives of their people (Milsosevic, Tudjman, Saddam Hussein, etc.). Some observers have stressed that if one is to have a reasonable chance of starting a peace process, one must give those leaders who have something to lose from peace some kind of assurance.[22] Examples of this are the immunity for Pinochet in Chile, or the chance to take part in the political process after agreement has been reached, such as the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. The results of such a policy have, as the example shows, been mixed.

Another complicating factor is that the factions generally control the picture given of the conflict to their own group, and that they, even today with the Internet, radio and TV via satellite, etc., are the ones who interpret events and developments. By condemning domestic opponents as traitors (Tudjman)[23] or the actions of the international community as part of their opponents’ campaign of war (Karadzic)[24] or presenting their opponents, including the civilian population, as an immediate threat which needs to be eliminated (Rwanda)[25], leaders can exploit the people’s fear and confusion in order to gain increased support.

Problems in respect of civil operations

Civilian operations

Civil operations include a wide variety of methods and an even wider variety of organisations that differ in regard to their motives as well as their build-up. Therefore, before we move on, it may be useful to suggest a typology for civil operations.[26]

Humanitarian Aid (food, water, housing, basic medical care, etc. These are urgent necessities transported to the area of operation.). These tasks could be fulfilled by a large number of different organisations: Military, UN, NGO and GO.

Basic (Re) construction of the Infrastructure (roads, local electricity and water supplies, hospitals, etc. This is complementary assistance to the local efforts.). Periodically, this could be done by the military operation, especially if the military needs this infrastructure. However, these tasks are usually carried out by civil supranational organisations, transnational NGO or GO.

Technical (Re)construction (Reconstruction of large infrastructure elements such as main transport roads, railroads, energy power plants, industry, etc.). These are tasks that demand large economic resources and specific specialist skills. Civil supranational organisations such as certain UN organisations or the World Bank could manage these types of projects, as could some national aid authorities.

Political (Re)construction (The reconstruction of the police, defence services, political institutions, economic institutions, etc.). These tasks must be carried out by an organisation with some political weight both through their legitimacy and through their will and ability to act. In principle, this means that only the UN and certain regional organisations might be able to handle these types of tasks.

Political leadership on a lower level (diplomacy/negotiations aimed at implementing strategic agreements on a local level). This calls for the political weight of the UN, regional organisations or an ad hoc group (such as the contact group in the former Yugoslavia) to act as a mentor, but the actual work could be done by other organisations such as the military.

Repatriation of refugees (Intimately linked to the other civilian tasks – without housing, protection and work opportunities, repatriation is more or less meaningless). The work has to be co-ordinated between a large number of organisations: Police, military, supranational organisations, GO and NGO.

Trial of alleged war criminals (to arrest, prosecute and punish war criminals). Today, the Hague Tribunal is the only institution available to try war criminals. The Tribunal needs assistance and protection from the military and the civil police in order to be able to carry out its tasks.

As is evident from the above list, one organisation can hardly handle all the different types of civil tasks. Furthermore, a specific task could differ in character depending upon the specific circumstances. Which organisation to choose can be determined by answering questions such as:[27]

  • Who has the best ability (as in skills) to solve the task?
  • Who has the best ability to survive in the environment?
  • Who could arrive fast enough to the area?
  • Who has the best ability to co-operate with the other international/local civil/military operations in the area?

The aim of civil operations

Civil operations may have several different aims varying from organisation to organisation and from situation to situation. One of these may be to use them to control the conflict, something which is difficult but generally seen as legitimate. Another, generally viewed as slightly less legitimate, is to use civil operations to provide advantages for the state in the competition for contracts to build up the conflict area after peace has returned. Operations of this kind risk giving priority to other matters than those that are important for the future development of the conflict area.

The following diagram shows some of the possible aims of civil operations using scales reflecting both the degree of egoism in the operations and the timeframe.

These aims are formulated from the perspective of a state. However, most of them can, with minor adjustments, be applied to an IO or NGO.[28] Note that several different aims and motives often combine to produce civil operations or civil operations with military support, and that it is seldom easy to make black and white distinctions where operations are concerned. Furthermore, the fact that the main aim is selfish does not necessarily mean that the operation in itself is to be condemned.[29] Instead, a major problem occurs on those occasions when all the ”good” reasons for an operation are present, yet these do not coincide with any selfish reasons to produce an operation.[30]

Problems specific to civil operations


In several of the complex crises of recent years one of the recurrent problems has been that the warring factions have set the terms for allowing emergency assistance and reconstruction or have completely refused to participate. The reason for this may actually be “honest”, that there is a genuine fear that the aid will be exploited by the opposing factions.[31] But it may also depend on factors such as those discussed in the previous chapter, such as the fear that the aid will lead to a weakened position of power.

The civil operations also have a number of problems that are not immediately due to the environment they are set in. Instead, they have to do with the large number of organisations and their varying and sometimes opposing aims as well as the competition for resources and influence.

In this chapter we intend to define and structure a number of problem areas in respect to civil activities that also affect the prerequisites for civil-military partnership. First however, it might be appropriate to underline the professional work carried out by the large majority of NGO’s, GO’s and IO’s. Often they have to work under terrible conditions, risking their own lives and health. The courage and unselfishness shown by many of those involved in civil operations cannot be overstated.

Civil operations as an intervention in “state”[32] autonomy

During the cold war both superpowers and smaller states viewed military “humanitarian operations” with great suspicion, mainly out of fear that these operations could be a screen for what was usually referred to as “intervention in a state’s internal affairs”. After the end of the cold war the world has witnessed several operations, including those in Somalia, Bosnia and Haiti, in which the humanitarian situation has been deemed by the UN Security Council as a “threat to international peace and security”, making possible an application of chapter seven of the UN charter (peace enforcement).[33]

Humanitarian and reconstruction operations, the purpose and objective of which can be seen as a threat to local leaders and groups in the way discussed in earlier sections, will also be seen as an intervention in the “state’s” autonomy and therefore be politicised. The chances of civil operations being seen “solely” as assistance and not as part of the political and military processes are therefore small – politics affects the operations and operations affect politics.

Also at the operational and tactical level the civil operations can be viewed as a threat to self-determination, especially if carried out with military support. Whereas supplies of food, water and other aid in an emergency are often fairly uncontroversial in terms of an intervention in the authority of the local government[34], attempts at rebuilding can be far more difficult.[35]

Another area similarly sensitive is the judicial system, built upon local tradition and of importance for the authority of the local government. Cambodia, Somalia and Bosnia are examples where attempts at changes and alterations to judicial and police activity have caused immediate reactions.[36] Furthermore, in recent years several major international financial institutions (e.g. the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund) have become increasingly seen as a threat to those states which have felt forced to introduce certain economic policies in order to be granted the loans and support they so desperately need.

Somewhat paradoxically this means that the more efficient the UN and other organisations are in carrying out co-ordinated operations, the greater the risk that the leadership will feel a threat to its position and the more difficult it becomes for the operations to gain and keep local support. Adam Roberts, for example, has pointed out the fact that many states, especially developing states, are very reluctant towards the appointment of a humanitarian co-ordinator, under the auspices of the DHA (now OCHA), for a specific state. Roberts interprets this as a fear of losing part of their control and authority over their own development if such influence is concentrated on one person.[37]

In an extreme case a humanitarian intervention could mean that, in practice, the international community would take over and run the local administration to such an extent that it could almost be called an international trustee-ship. Without going into the various political, judicial, moral, resource-centre and historical problems and opportunities such a solution presents, it may be noted that, up until now, the UN has avoided it.[38] Such a solution would also require a very clear signal of co-operation from the factions and local population, or it could very easily be seen as an occupation or as neo-colonialism.

To what extent intervention in a state’s autonomy is possible is also linked to how strong the state in question is. In some of the operations of recent years the state has been non-existent or extremely weak (Somalia, Rwanda, etc.) and it has been possible for the civil organisations to have a relatively large amount of freedom to act. This does not mean that problems did not exist for the international community in these operations. On the contrary, the chaos and lawlessness meant that there were enormous risks of plundering, assaults, etc.

Impartiality and independence of civil operations

Impartiality is closely linked to the previously discussed concept of intervention in the autonomy of a “state”, along with the physical security of civil operations. In the former case the question is one of interpretation of impartiality – impartial in relation to the factions or impartial in relation to the aid organisation’s mission and ethos.[39] For example – is it impartial to attempt to supply food to a starving village that is under siege?[40] Is it impartial to try to help to create political institutions that support the development of political pluralism?[41] Impartiality tends to be in the eye of the beholder.

There is a general feeling among aid organisations in general that respect on the part of various factions for their work and integrity is low. Aid shipments have been deliberately fired upon in Bosnia, Somalia, Rwanda, Angola – practically in every violent conflict in which they have been involved over recent years. Aid personnel, both local and international, have been subject to attack and threats.[42] Much of this can be attributed to the politicising of aid operations, although aid organisations have always been at risk. Their poor protection in combination with their valuable goods (food, fuel, etc.) has presented major temptations both for private individuals and factions in various areas in crisis.

This can be seen as a parallel development to that experienced by military operations after the end of the cold war, i.e. that the reduced influence of the major powers means that the actions of the factions are less controlled. As such, the blue beret has ceased to be an effective protection.[43] This is especially true in chaotic situations, in which fighting is taking place more or less openly. For the civilian organisations it is a question both of physical security and their ability to stand up to the factions and to avoid having their shipments plundered.

If the civil organisations are subject to threats or violence of a kind which prevents them from operating, they may fall into a “Catch 22” situation. If they receive protection from the international forces they run the risk of becoming “infected” by the military and political processes which the UN (if it is the UN) operates. If, on the other hand, they do not receive protection, they are unable to operate in anything more than a limited area as dictated by the terms of one or other of the factions, and the organisation’s impartiality will be gravely undermined.[44]

The complicated balance between the three dimensions of an operation (the military, the civil and the political) is thus not simply a balance between various parts of the operation but is also a question of all parts balancing all dimensions. As civil operations gain an increasingly political role and require greater protection they are drawn closer to the overall military and political processes.

At the same time there is a perception in the civil organisations that the civil operations, especially those of an emergency nature, should be free from all evaluation other than that which is purely humanitarian. They wish to avoid any link on the part of the factions or the international community between the civil operations and the military or political operations, i.e. to prevent spelling out terms to the one before permitting the other.[45] This is a key issue in co-operation in military operations, for example.

The aid organisations have chosen several different ways to respond to problems of this type. On certain occasions they have completely withdrawn from the operation.[46] On others, certain organisations have chosen to form closer links with the military operation in order to gain protection and support, [47] whilst other organisations have instead distanced themselves further to show their impartiality and independence.[48] The choice made by an organisation in a given situation depends on the size and nature of the threat to their personnel, the organisation’s view of impartiality and independence, its attitude towards the military in general, and also on the role and actions of the military operation.

Finally, in certain cases it might be that the military does not wish to be too involved with civil operations. This is especially true in chapter six operations where the support of aid organisations to a certain group can be seen as a threat to the impartiality of the overall mission, consequently resulting in tensions and violence that the military operation is not designed to handle.[49] This is accentuated when obviously impartial NGO’s arrive in a conflict area.

Operations with or for the local population

There is a great difference between doing something with someone and doing something for someone: this applies both to analysis of needs and planning of operations, and to execution, follow-up and long-time sustainability. Doing something “with” involves sharing, shared responsibility and a better chance of arranging the right operation at the right time. Doing something “for” someone involves the risk of “benefit dependency”, that those responsible for administering the results feel a low level of responsibility in maintaining them and that the operations could be colliding with local tradition and culture.[50]

Another aspect of this is at individual level. Areas torn by crisis and war are often areas of high unemployment, especially when demobilisation has taken place among the warring factions. The lack of something to do tends to breed apathy[51] or aggression. An opportunity to take an active part in shaping one’s future and to earn a wage towards one’s daily upkeep can be absolutely vital.[52]

A basic distinction between doing with and doing for is that the latter could be controlled by needs which differ from those actually present at the local level. It might be a question of an operation aimed at promoting the business of one’s own country, or for reasons of domestic policy, but also of operations to create goodwill for the military operation or to control the conflict. It could also be operations mainly aiming at improving the relationship between the local population and the international, military contingent.

However, this is insufficient to explain the differences between with and for – even if the basic aim is centred on needs which are not controlled by the local situation, operations can still be carried out in such a way that they have a positive effect on developments. It is therefore also important to realise that operations “for” comprise an element of insufficient contact with the real needs of the situation. This can be for various reasons: lack of interest, in which the overriding selfish objective is the only thing of any meaning, lack of experience and knowledge, or a patriarchal attitude of ”knowing what is best”, etc.

Long-term and short-term operations

Discussions of civil operations often concern what earlier sections referred to as emergency aid and basic reconstruction. This is partially because these operations produce clear results – to alleviate hunger, disease and water shortages – and therefore have a relatively high publicity value. Another reason can be that these operations are set in motion at a relatively early stage in an international effort, at a time when the interest of the world community and the media is focussed on the area, e.g. due to the presence of a relatively large military operation.[53]

This does not mean that these operations are always the most important element in an attempt to dampen the conflict. Sometimes they may even be negative from a long-term perspective: they can oust local production and local enterprise, thus creating a dependency situation, promoting a “black market”[54], etc. This is not to suggest that these operations should not be carried out. Hunger must be alleviated and children must have medical care. On the other hand, there must be a long-term and co-ordinated programme for the area. There is a risk that this requirement for co-ordination will come into conflict with the requirements mentioned earlier for avoiding links, at least in the eyes of certain organisations.

Whereas short-term operations tend to be firmly focussed on limited objectives, long-term operations are often aimed at setting a process in motion within which a number of goals can be achieved. The tension between the two different types of operation is sometimes partly caused by the differences in their objectives. One is intended to put a stop to the immediate violence and/or the immediate suffering, whereas the other, with its long-term perspective, is prepared to start from the bottom, e.g. through education and long-term development projects.[55]

There are at least two interpretations of long-term and short-term operations. One is that they are both part of a continuous process in which short-term operations, such as emergency aid and basic reconstruction of certain infrastructures, give way to more long-term reconstruction and development operations. The other is that there is no such fundamental link, that the different types of operation take place concurrently, and that there is a need for further co-ordination of operations.

The first view has the advantage of highlighting the problem of carrying out long-term development projects before basic needs have been satisfied. On the other hand, the second interpretation takes account of the fact that a conflict-torn state or region does not always have the same needs in all parts of the crisis area at a certain given point in time, and that long-term operations are sometimes necessary to solve short-term problems.[56]

The risk that civil operations (emergency aid) will prolong the conflict

One common criticism[57] of civil operations is that they do not help to end the conflict: on the contrary, they involve an influx of resources that do not only, or perhaps do not even, reach the civilian population. Critics imply that it might be better to hold back aid until fighting has died down, either because the factions are exhausted or because one side has won.

However, others dispute this, claiming that even if an operation with emergency aid can result in prolonging the conflict it can also, together with a peace-keeping operation, help to limit both the level of the conflict and its repercussions on the civilian population. On example often cited is UNPROFOR’s operation in Sarajevo.[58]

The truth is probably somewhat less rosy.[59] One commentator lists the following four ways in which emergency aid can contribute to the economy of war:[60]

  • A group is attacked on purpose to force them to flee to a certain area where the attacker knows that emergency aid will be put in place to take over the upkeep of the group.
  • Aid shipments are plundered of their resources to the benefit of the military.
  • Aid shipments are forced to pay a “duty” in the form of a percentage of the contents of the load in order to get permission to operate in a certain area.
  • Aid organisations are forced to pay “protection money”.

The list can be extended: various forms of infrastructure (roads, electricity, water, etc.) can be used to assist the factions in waging war, the civil operations can postpone the population’s war weariness, etc.

In Somalia the aid organisations were forced to pay “duty” and protection money to the local warlords in order to ensure that not all their resources were plundered and that they were able to move around in the area.[61] In this way food came to be sold on the black market and warlords like Aidid strengthened their resources and raised their prestige. All the same, the food that was able to reach the civilian population made a decisive difference at a time when the international community was not prepared to send in effective military resources to protect the aid shipments. In the present context it is impossible to estimate how many people were saved from starvation compared to the number who died as a result of the prolonged conflict.

These examples may suggest that the risk of aid prolonging the conflict is greater in a chaotic situation where the aid organisations do not have any military force to back them up. However, there are other complications in a situation like the one in Bosnia after 1995. When resources for reconstruction flow in, some people enrich themselves through corruption while others get no part at all of the influx.[62] This may create a shift of power to people less interested in a peace that is a threat to their income.[63]

There is a further aspect – NGOs and other civil operations attempting to keep a situation under control can become an alibi for the international community in questions of putting military forces in place to stop a conflict or to guarantee security. Rwanda 1994 is an example where, in the words of General Dallaire: “many countries have tried to smother their guilt by throwing hundreds of millions of dollars in aid at the problem”.[64]

Competition for aid funds and influence

There is a limited amount of money available for aid, but at times it would seem that the number of organisations at various levels ready to carry out operations in the field is unlimited. This leads to competition for funds between NGOs, and also between NGOs and IOs and between IOs themselves (e.g. various UN organisations). At the same time there emerges competition for influence in the area in question.

For some NGOs the media has become an important factor for where, when and what to become involved in. For those providing the funds it is important to be in a place where one is noticed, sometimes, perhaps, more important than the operation in itself. During the crisis in Rwanda/Zaire, Kigali and Goma had more than enough aid organisations whereas the refugee camps in Tanzania, under far less media scrutiny (and where a stronger state power was able to stipulate certain requirements for the actions of NGO’s), received only a fraction of this attention.[65] In Goma it was far easier to find NGOs interested in operations with a high media profile, such as cholera treatment centres or orphanages, than it was to find equally important, yet less visible, actions aimed at providing lavatories for the area, or burial of the large numbers of dead.[66]

Closely linked to the competition for money is the competition for influence over the civil operations in a crisis area. For example, it is important for an NGO to maintain its individual role and independence, and not to be lumped together with a number of other organisations under a joint umbrella name, not least to ensure they are visible to economic contributors. Major organisations (e.g. UN organisations such as UNHCR, UNDP and DHA) also compete for the role of leader. For example, in Rwanda there was constant friction between DHA and UNDP.[67] During UNPROFOR in Bosnia there was little co-operation between UNHCR and UNPROFOR, and many civil organisations chose to operate independently of these two bodies.[68] During IFOR/SFOR there had been elements of unwillingness for established organisations to allow co-ordination, even if only at a policy level, by the office of the high representative (OHR)[69]. This situation is not improved by that fact that that neither at strategic nor at operative level is there any clear division of responsibility between the various organisations.

Co-ordination of civil operations

Civil operations, especially emergency operations, tend to be carried out by a large group of organisations[70] which vary in size, quality, purpose and impartiality. To this is added the competition which develops between these organisations for influence over operations in the area in question and for the available financial resources. The problem is also compounded by the fact that these organisations have different principals: some of them (especially UN organisations) are answerable to various parts of the UN, some (especially state aid bodies) are answerable to the governments of individual states and some (especially NGOs, and certain IOs and ICRCs) are answerable only to themselves. These various organisations can also receive funding from each other and each other’s principals. The overall picture is thus extremely complicated.

In a number of conflicts since the 80s the system of a “lead agency” has been used for co-ordinating civil operations, i.e. one of the major international organisations, often UN bodies such as UNHCR and UNICEF, has been given the overall co-ordinating role. Michael Pugh and S Alex Cunliffe[71] have observed that this is not a problem-free method. For example, it is difficult to get organisations, sometimes with contrary objectives and aims, to agree to being led by an “equal”. Furthermore, an organisation may find it difficult to raise itself above its own role.[72] Finally, it is unclear what responsibilities and authorities are contained in the role of “lead agency”.[73]

An alternative solution is to give a special organisation or person principal responsibility for co-ordination. This organisation (often OCHA – formerly DHA) is thus chiefly given the role of facilitating co-ordination rather than leading it. There are some positive experiences of this, including Angola and Rwanda, but they are not completely unequivocal. Whilst in Angola the DHA managed to assume a co-ordinating role for almost all involved – aid organisations, fund providers and local factions, the result in Rwanda was less comprehensive.[74] There are also limitations in “co-ordination by facilitation” compared to “co-ordination by directive” – perhaps the most serious of which is that one has no real chance of directing aid to those parts where it is needed most. This was apparent in Rwanda, where the focus of the media appeared to control the work of certain organisations.

The situation is not helped by the fact that a number of organisations within the UN do not fully acknowledge the co-ordinating role of OCHA. This has resulted in a lack of resources (equipment as well as personnel) for the OCHA when arriving in the crisis area. Some states, including Sweden, have tried to balance this by channelling support directly to the operations of OCHA/DHA in the form of communications, personnel and other support resources to the DHA operations in Rwanda.

The Dayton agreement determined the role of the High Representative as an overreaching co-ordinator of civil operations in Bosnia. However, the High Representative was not given any authority to make decisions regarding civil organisations:[75]

”Coordinate the activities of the civilian organizations and agencies in Bosnia and Hercegovina to ensure the efficient implementations of the civilian aspects of the peace settlement. The High Representative shall respect their autonomy within their spheres of operation while as necessary giving general guidance to them about the impact of their activities on the implementation of the peace settlement. The civilian organizations and agencies are requested to assist the High Representative in the execution of his or her responsibilities by providing all information relevant to their operations in Bosnia-Hercegovina.”

The co-ordinating position of the OHR could consequently be labelled as relatively weak. On the other hand, this might not be the case. Instead, such ”weak” co-ordination could be compared to that of the DHA in Angola. Although it would mean difficulties in regard to controlling the operations, this weakness could actually be a condition that should not be perceived as a threat to the independence of civilian organisations.[76]

The co-ordination of civil operations in Bosnia after the Dayton accord has been characterised by, aside from the weak position of the OHR and the competition between OHR and other IO, the development of a number of geographical and functional[77] ”task forces”. These are meant to bring together the executing organisations, donors, international organisations and the local administration to discuss needs, priorities and financing. Above all, the Task Forces work at a policy level and not with individual projects, but are still a catalyst for the preparation of projects.

However, there are also pitfalls in this kind of system. OHR has been accused of letting itself be partly controlled by the interests of one or several states.[78] This means considerable difficulties in maintaining the trust of other international actors in the area (IO, NGO, military, etc.). Having a monopoly of co-ordination like this might lead to the complete operation doing the ”wrong” things without being compensated by ”independent” IO/NGO choosing other approaches.

The conclusion is that any co-ordinating system where organisations are supposed to give up some of their independence must be able to offer obvious advantages to the same organisations. These advantages might be protection, information, access to donors, etc.

Problems related to the military operations

Command, national control and politicisation

It might be thought that a military operation has a more stable base than a civil one through its access to a C2-system, through its hierarchical organisation and through its, in comparison to civil organisations in general, standardised units. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

UN-led military peace support operations are formally led by a hierarchy that goes from the UN Secretary General, through the Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) to the Force Commander.[79] In reality, the national influence has been very strong. The military commander of an operation has only had ”Operational Control”[80] over subordinate units and the national control has consequently often dominated the international one.[81]

However, national control is not necessarily always a bad thing. On several occasions, the UN-system has shown its inability to lead operations at both the strategic and operational levels. In such cases, the overall operation as well as the specific national unit could benefit from national involvement.[82] This does not mean that this is a desirable situation. In the best of worlds, the UN-system would allow the troop contributing states to trust the judgement and decisions of the world organisation. Today, however, it is very difficult to pass judgement on countries that, out of consideration for the safety of their soldiers, choose to retain a relatively large influence on the use of their military units.[83]

The political leadership exercised by the Security Council is a further complicating factor often influenced by national agendas. The situation becomes especially complicated if important members of the council who are involved in critical decisions do not contribute troops to an operation.[84]

Furthermore, a military operation is politically sensitive both at an international and national level. The international community makes a considerable investment of prestige in an operation. The eyes of the world are focused on the organisation and its abilities as well as on the crisis area much more intensively than is normally the case with a civil operation. A failure becomes a failure of a large number of states as well as the international organisation.[85] Also, the operation is often a result of a compromise, to a certain extent, between antagonistic parties, for instance in the Security Council. This compromise could attach a number of limitations curbing the ability of the operation to fulfil its mandate.[86] At the national level, the political sensitivity is born out of national prestige and the large economic undertaking. The risk of casualties is another important factor, especially in the domestic political arena. When all this is taken into consideration, it could limit the will of a state as well as an international organisation to participate in a certain operation.[87]

The IFOR/SFOR operation has a more ”straight forward” command structure, partly due to the fact that the operation, to a large extent, consists of NATO forces, and partly due to the operation’s relatively free role in relation to the UN. It is true that the IFOR/SFOR operation is based on a UN mandate (resolution 1031), but in practice it is run with NATO as a kind of contractor (similar to the situation during the Gulf War of 1991). IFOR/SFOR has been given a task to carry out within a certain framework but the UN does not detail how this is supposed to be done.

The resulting force is theoretically more potent, flexible and easy to control. However, in reality, the structure of IFOR and its successor SFOR, is more complex. There are still strong elements of national agendas, especially from the Great Powers, affecting the operation. This is evident from the relatively large degree of freedom given to the different multinational divisions when they are forming their operational concepts.

The fear of ”conflict creep” and ”mission creep”

Experiences from Somalia and Bosnia have given rise to the expression ”conflict creep”, which together with ”mission creep” became almost the single most dangerous thing that could happen during a military peace support operation. For example, ”conflict creep” means that the character of the conflict changes when the parties withdraw their consent from the operation. ”Mission creep”, on the other hand, means that the tasks of the operation change without a similar change in mandate and resources. The word ”creep” is partly misleading – the shifts may be anything but slow and creeping.

The two ”creeps” are interrelated. If the character of the conflict changes this may lead to the fact that the political leadership orders the force to handle the new situation without any new resources (this was the case in Bosnia during the changing phases of the war). If, on the other hand, the force is given new tasks but no resources, the difference between what they are asked to do and what they ”de facto” can do, could lead to conflict creep.[88]

These and similar experiences have affected the will of the military to take on tasks believed to increase the risk of conflict creep and mission creep such as; protection of civilians, arrest of war criminals and riot control. The cautious interpretation of the mandate, for example by the Americans in Bosnia[89] could, to some extent, be explained by the need for national control together with a general unwillingness to accept casualties. It is, however, also probable that the discussions concerning ”conflict creep” in the wake of the operations in Somalia and Bosnia has had an impact on the formulation and interpretation of the mandates.[90]

If there are no other organisations that are ready to solve these problems there is a risk that important tasks remain undone, including the creation of safe conditions for refugee return. At the same time, however, the military units’ willingness to work with other types of civil tasks such as food deliveries, road repairs and certain technical reconstruction projects does not seem to have lessened.

The composition of the military operation

The international military operation consists of a number of units from different countries. Apart from the fact that different cultures and methods are supposed to co-operate, this means that the quality and attitude of the units differ. In some cases, the units are obviously partial. In others, poor economic conditions force soldiers and officers to sell equipment, supplies or information. Sometimes the units are simply badly trained and badly equipped and cannot carry out their tasks.

The UN peace support operations have been characterised by a wide variation in quality between the different contingents. Heavily equipped NATO-units with a war-like attitude have been mixed with ”low-key” units from other western countries (partly from NATO members such as Holland and Canada, and partly from non-NATO countries such as Sweden, Finland and Ireland). The rest are made up of units from African and Asian countries that sometimes have a strong economic incentive to participate in the operations, while at the same time may vary considerably in the quality level of material and personnel. An example could be the UN operation in Lebanon in 1990, where 8.5% were French, 49% consisted of Swedes, Norwegians, Irish, Finns and Italians and 42.5% were Fijis, Ghanaians and Nepalese.[91] This is not to say that 42.5% of the forces were of an inferior quality (the Nepalese Ghurkas, for instance, had high standards[92]), but it implies that the UN cannot choose their troop contributors, but instead have to accept those prepared to participate. Limitations in the usability of certain units due to shortcomings in equipment and training, including the ability to interact with the local population, have been common.[93]

As a NATO-led operation, IFOR/SFOR has not had the same problems. This has had a positive effect on the intelligence system with its demands on trust, discipline and rules[94] and also made the units fairly equal in their ability, if not willingness, to support the civilian organisations. Perhaps the ”coalition of the willing” is the future model for composing forces meant for peace support operations of the kind we have seen in Bosnia, Somalia and Rwanda. Of course the prerequisite is that there are countries that are ”willing” and the risk that only certain conflicts and operations attract the attention of ”qualified” troop contributors.

The size and domination of the military operation

A military operation in a crisis area often brought an abundance of equipment, money and other resources. The operation is often large, apart from fighting units consisting of staff and support units of considerable proportions. Furthermore, the military operation often has an extensive and co-ordinated financial support network.

This means that the military operation is often given a dominating position among the international organisations, a position that does not facilitate relations with the political and civil operations in the area. This is especially true in a situation involving the competition for available resources and influence. Furthermore, the military operation often forces up the price levels in an area and this may cause problems for both the local population and other operations.[95]

The dominating position of the military operation is also due to its political sensitivity. This may result in the civil operations being handled as a supplement to the military operations, something that has been evident from the lack of willingness to allocate financial resources to the civil operations.

The military units’ short time in the operational area

A military unit usually changes its personnel once every six months[96] and the level of knowledge of a specific unit will thus vary over time. One officer interviewed for this study gave the following description: ”As soon as you have learnt enough it is time to return home”.

The short time in the area could be turned into something positive: Each rotation should allow enough time in the area to improve the operation, but not so long that the personnel get stuck in a ”seen it all, done it all” attitude. If the transfer functioned well, this would lead to a continuous improvement of the operation. However, this demands sufficient time for transfer, and that information and intelligence are stored in an accessible database.

This is generally not the case today, especially for civil information that probably demands even more time for transfer than the military one due to the officers’ general unfamiliarity with this information. Most units seem to be aware of these shortcomings. Those who are not will probably be reminded by the civil organisations who regard this as a big problem and feel that they almost have to start over once every six months.[97]

Problems relating to civil operations carried out by the military

Military units have certain assets which are virtually unique: they can both protect and defend themselves and break down the resistance of others with violence, they have rapid access to strategic and tactical transport resources, they can be self-sufficient for a longer period (at least several weeks) and they have access to a ready-made organisation. This means that they can be suited to certain types of civil operations, e.g. in areas where the security situation does not permit operations by unprotected civilians or where their transport resources and rapid availability make them indispensable at the start of an emergency operation.

However, there are problems with civil operations carried out by military units:

  • The military units are organised for completely different types of tasks, and a company of engineers or a field hospital may not be at all suitable for road and house construction or for the care of refugees.
  • The military units have only a limited knowledge of how to plan, command and carry out civil operations. For example, this means that they may be less capable to analyse the risk of the development of a long-term dependency from a short-term operation, or to carry out local and international purchases while avoiding corruption. [98]
  • The military units’ capacity for aid operations has turned out to be limited, even in situations where the military operation has had a low priority.[99]
  • Military units often arrive in the operation area after civil operations, and leave before them. As such, by placing too many of the civil tasks in the hands of the military, there is a risk for discontinuity in the work.
  • Military units rotate roughly every six months. More long-term projects, especially if they do not fall within the normal areas of competency for those involved, are therefore at risk to fluctuations in quality and quantity.
  • Military units often cost more for a given operation than the equivalent carried out by a civil aid organisation.[100]
  • Military units have a different principal task. If the situation changes so that they need to concentrate on this, there is a risk that civil projects can be abruptly terminated.
  • The military units’ capacity for aid operations would be dependent on the economy of the state providing the troops, i.e. different parts of the operation would receive different amounts of help. This might also lead to questions about the force’s impartiality, especially if the differences in the volume of help were to coincide with the divisions between the factions.[101]

To this it may be added that the unique capacity of the military mentioned above for protection and defence (and also for violence in an offensive capacity) is the thing which, if possible, should be made use of primarily when the military operation has surplus resources. This might take place, for example, by setting up extra observation posts in an area to which the minority group has still not dared to return.

In between those tasks which may be referred to as “purely military” and those which are “purely civil”, there is a grey area in which the answers to the questions of the type presented earlier determine who is to carry them out. [102]

Five arguments are usually put forward in favour of a civil operations carried out by the military. The first is that it creates goodwill, and thereby increased security, for the unit. The second is that the soldiers benefit from being able to carry out something concrete for the local population, not least as a break from what can sometimes be the very routine nature of guard and patrol duties, the benefit of which can be hard for an individual soldier to perceive. The third is that civil operations can provide a means for obtaining information and intelligence in areas to which it might otherwise be difficult to gain access. The fourth is that certain resources (roads, electricity, water, etc.) are vital to the military units and may have to be secured through civil operations. Finally, the fifth argument, is that in some cases, primarily due to the security situation, the military units may be the only ones able to deliver aid to a certain area.

The first two arguments imply that civil operations are not primarily carried out to improve the local situation, but for the good of the unit. This does not necessarily mean that the operations are wrongly targeted or that they do not have good effects. Yet it does involve a clear risk that the operations, both in terms of what they are and how they are carried out, are chiefly controlled by criteria other than local needs. There is also a risk that they might not be carried out with desirable tenacity if the unit is given other, more highly prioritised, tasks to carry out within the framework for their principal objective.

At the same time, the military units need to develop good relations locally for security reasons and for facilitating the work with the main tasks. Repairing a school or delivering food could generate invaluable goodwill that in turn could result in information or easier negotiations. Yet, it is not impossible that various operations that are intended to increase the security of the civilian population, e.g. by setting up more OPs, might involve a similarly high level of goodwill for the unit.

The third argument – for gaining intelligence – may be a legitimate reason in certain situations. Without intelligence it is extremely difficult to plan and carry out suitable operations, either civil or military. However, the danger is that the factions may start to regard the aid shipments in general as intelligence patrols, and this can lead to problems for civil organisations in their relations with the local factions.

The last two arguments are both very legitimate. The first, securing vital resources, is sometimes a prerequisite to be able to carry out the main tasks. The second, to deliver humanitarian aid in a situation where no other organisation can, is of course something that hardly needs to be justified further in this context.

Civil-military co-ordination

Civil-military co-ordination in this paper means two things: firstly the co-ordination between military and civil operations in a conflict: secondly, the interaction between military operations and the local civilian population and administration.[103] However, the following will concentrate chiefly on the first meaning of the term.

The aim of civil-military co-ordination

A military operation generally only functions as a temporary solution to cool off a conflict. More lasting peace requires stable civil circumstances both in terms of trust between former combatants and socio-economic and political conditions in which the objective should be that the operation should leave in its wake the necessary structures for the conflict-torn state to manage to support itself. However, civil operations are not always successful, as a result of the security situation or because local military leaders refuse to reach agreement as long as they remain unconvinced that the world community is prepared to fight fire with fire.[104]

From the point of view of the overall international operation, the main aim of civil-military co-ordination is to ensure that all of the operations in one area are working together towards a common goal. From the point of view of the single civil or military operation, the main objective is to achieve one’s own goals more efficiently. As an example of the latter, compare the aim of the civil-military operations in the Nordic-Polish brigade in Bosnia: ”The aim is to establish and maintain co-operation in order to achieve synergetic efforts to support our own operations”.[105]

Possibilities with civil-military co-ordination

There are a number of arguments that unite, or at least ought to unite, civil and military operations. We shall here very briefly discuss three of these and then move on to two other, perhaps more controversial, possibilities with civil-military co-ordination: Controlling a conflict through closer civil-military co-ordination and exchange of intelligence and information.

Firstly, military and civil operations undoubtedly affect each other at the strategic, operational and tactical levels, and without any overriding co-ordination there is a risk that they might counteract each other. For instance, at the strategic level, a decision about military intervention will have a large impact on the civil operation already in the area.[106] The aim of the civil operations, for instance, concerning refugee return, may affect the status of the military operation. Similar examples can be found at the operational and tactical levels.

Secondly, successful civil operations of various kinds are a basic precondition for long-term stability and consequently also a precondition for the military operation to reach a successful conclusion. Similarly, the civil operations may need protection and support from the military operation.

Finally, civil-military co-ordination is necessary to prevent local groups from playing off different parts of the international mission against each other. A party must not be able to block one operation in an area and simultaneously be rewarded with aid from another.

Controlling a conflict through closer civil-military co-ordination

Civil operations are of major importance for the economic and political situation in a conflict area. The influx of resources (food, money, fuel, etc.) can offer a chance of survival and development to a group of people or a region. At the same time, there is also a risk, as discussed previously, that this will provide a chance for the local military factions to continue fighting. More efficient civil-military co-ordination is a precondition for avoiding some of these problems.

The basis of this is joint planning which should include overall management of what operations are to be carried out where. In an extreme case this might mean complete integration of civil and military operations, which would have the same effect as a total take-over and administration of the state in question.

For the colonial powers this was the natural development; if they did not already have an administration in place (e.g. the British in Malaya) in the war area, it was their intention to introduces one as quickly as possible when the military operation was over (e.g. the French in Algeria in the period between the wars). Methods used included dividing the civilian population and the military elements in the area, by moving whole groups of people, as in Malaya.

This also means that certain critical resources, such as food and fuel, were handed out under extra tough controls and follow-ups in areas where it is well known that the military factions seize a major part. In Malaya tinned food was opened before it was handed out, and rice was cooked: the result was that the guerrillas found it difficult to make use of these resources directly or indirectly, by selling it on.[107]

Of course, it is difficult and not even desirable to go to such lengths in a peace support operation. The international community is scarcely prepared to take such a responsibility for an individual state. Moreover, one condition for success in the state in question is that it does not contain a locally functioning administration (Somalia) or that one has control over the civil administration (colonies).

On the other hand, one might wish to draw some lessons from the wars for freedom from colonial domination. This might mean that military units, in order to increase security and stability in an area, would be brought into the planning at an early stage for a programme to return refugees. It might also mean that financial aid would be directed into areas where local leaders have clearly aligned themselves with the peace agreement in question. Showing the advantages to be gained by signing up to a peace agreement in both words and action by giving the reward, say, of an economic redevelopment programme for a particular place or area is an example of such a measure. Above all it is important to demonstrate to the local population that there is a better alternative to the war.[108]

However, this type of action requires the work of the international military units to be co-ordinated with the civil programme in order to provide the local population with physical protection and security. This might involve providing protection for the Saturday market in an area, or setting up an observation post in a village to which the minority is planned to return, or an increased presence in sensitive areas. Without such protection, faction leaders and military groups can sabotage efforts by playing on fears or through actions, propaganda and threats.[109]

These types of actions will probably only be possible in situations where a credible peace agreement exists, or where the will of the local population to support the operation is well proven. In those cases, the military support will mainly be an umbrella under which processes for increased trust may evolve. It is also morally impossible to make demands of a village or region to behave loyalty towards a peace agreement (and thereby to defy local warlords) and not provide them with some form of protection at the same time.

Co-ordination of operations in this way will almost certainly be met with resistance both from the military and civil operations themselves and from local leaders. The international military force becomes increasingly called upon to protect the civilian population from attack both from the opposite side (not unlike the actions of the first Swedish units in Bosnia) as well as from their own armed forces. For many states and armed forces this is not an attractive alternative. The choice of method may also come into conflict with the civil operations’ fear of ”linkage” to the political and military processes.

These hesitations are due to real fears born out of each operation’s specific notion of the world and thus cannot be disregarded. Instead, it must be handled through a common idea of the overall goals of the mission by developing a common understanding for the limitations and possibilities of all the different organisations in the area, and through a common view of the current situation. For instance, the OHR has stated in its policy that aid should be conditional, based on the attitude and behaviour of the possible recipients. According to the OHR, support to areas that refuse refugee return should be avoided.[110]

Exchange of intelligence and information

There are two basic reasons for working together in respect of information and intelligence. The first is that sound and comprehensive intelligence is a precondition for any operation to chose the correct problems. An NGO supplying food needs to know which villages and areas are in the greatest need of such help, and those in which the food itself will really get through to the civilian population without becoming part of the war effort.[111] The civilian and military operations thus need to exchange information about the humanitarian situation as well as the military and political situations. The different types of operations also have access to different types of information.

There is reason to believe that military units that are spread out over the area of operation could act as the ”eyes and ears” of the civilian operation. In Bosnia several examples of this have evolved. The Swedish battalion has produced ”village files” containing information about individuals, housing and infrastructure. The idea is that the UNHCR would use these files both as a planning tool and as information to refugees planning to return.[112]

Furthermore, the British contingent in Bosnia has seconded an officer to the regional office of the OHR Reconstruction and Return Task Force (RRTF NW) as ”head of office”. OHR gave him an office, a vehicle and tasks. He worked in plain clothes but made no secret of his affiliation with SFOR.[113] In that way the OHR and the RRTF Northwest gained access to the intelligence and network of the British SFOR units while the latter had the opportunity to influence civil operations.

A prerequisite for this is, of course, that the military units have personnel with the relevant training and experience. They must understand how and why civil organisations function and be able to formulate and meet the correct intelligence needs.

The second is that exchange of intelligence and information is a security issue. This applies to information about activity on the part of the faction that may cause direct or indirect harm to the civil and/or military operations, and to information relating to the activities of one’s own side that may affect other peace operations. The latter may comprise information about planned actions (arrests, selective bombing, observation posts being set up in sensitive areas, supplies of food to a village blockaded by one particular faction) which might lead to reprisals against other operations.

To this can be added the need for intelligence relating to each other’s respective operations and plans in order to avoid getting in each other’s way in the operation area. During the operation in Somalia a number of senior officers of the UNDP were taken prisoner by the US UNSOM II troops who were unaware of their presence in the area in question.[114] During the operation in Rwanda information leaflets were dropped to the refugees by the UN encouraging them to return home, yet the body responsible for refugee issues, UNHCR, had not been informed.[115]

Contacts and exchange of information already exist today at various levels: strategic (Reliefweb[116], DPKO), operational (OHR, lead agency, OCHA, CMOC[117]) and tactical (ad hoc between units at tactical level and civil operations). Problems arise from the fact that these contacts are not institutionalised so as to function in the same way from operation to operation and are therefore dependent on the individuals involved. Exchange is often impeded by intelligence regulations, the mistrust which tends to exist between military and civil operations and by the basic problems of the principles and attitudes which the UN and civil organisations hold towards intelligence work.[118]

Problems of mistrust, linkage, and the military need of secrecy in some cases are difficult to deal with. They are deep rooted in the culture of the various organisations, and they also reflect genuine needs. Up until now they have chiefly been dealt with at a tactical level through mutual inclination and ad hoc exchanges of information.

Problems concerning the co-ordination between civil and military operations

Different hierarchies

Whereas military operations take place on government orders and under national administration, within the framework for a supranational or an international body, civilian operations are only carried out to a small extent in this way. Instead, they are often made up of a number of small NGOs acting on a local level. This means that any national control over civil operations is much weaker. This is compounded by the fact that civil operations often receive resources from a far more diverse number of donors, including private individuals, organisations, nations and supranational bodies.

Currently civil and military operations are directed to an area via two different channels at national (contributing state), strategic (the UN in New York and Geneva), operative (SRSG Humanitarian Co-ordinator/Force Commander) and tactical (battalion or brigade) level. The only two points at which these channels coincide are at the highest level of the UN (General Secretary and Security Council) and at the highest operative level (SRSG), but the influence of these over co-ordination has proved to be limited.[119] Outside these channels there is also activity from a number of NGOs, GOs and IOs.

Some of the reasons for this division are the political sensitivity of the military operations and the civil organisations’ fear of ”linkage”. It is also important to remember and respect the fact that different skills are needed for planning and carrying out civil and military operations. Furthermore, civil and military operations may not necessarily take place in the same geographical area: for example, the military operation may cover a relatively narrow line of armistice, whereas the civil operation may cover the entire region. In addition, not all nations which provide troops can afford, or have the skills necessary, to carry out civil operations, i.e. co-ordination at national level is not possible for a number of countries.

This means, aside from the fact that a fully integrated (possibly national) military and civilian operation is very hard to imagine that the different parts of the overall mission may end up in a conflict of interest with each other. This might be a ”conscious” conflict in that the organisations know and respect each other’s differing views, [120] but it might also be an ”unconscious” conflict, in that it is a conflict mostly due to a lack of contact between the organisations.[121]

These problems should not be viewed as insurmountable. In Bosnia, during SFOR, the use of Task Forces was supplemented by something called ”integrated co-operation”, i.e. an exchange of personnel between different organisations. These persons are not simply liaison officers but take an active part in the planning and execution of different tasks.[122] It is still too early to pass judgement on the system, but if it can help increase understanding between organisations, that would be an important step forward.

Bottom-up or top-down?

The military and political operations are often carried out with a top-down perspective (starting with an agreement with the leadership then implementing this at a local level). The civil operations, on the other hand, are often carried out with a bottom-up perspective (food to a village, start a collective of companies, etc.). There are several reasons for this. A bottom-up perspective is more natural than a top-down perspective in an operation comprising a large number of small organisations in which all of them wish to preserve their autonomy. However, this is not a sufficient explanation, since even large organisations such as Sweden’s aid agency SIDA have a bottom-up perspective. For SIDA, and probably for many other organisations involved in civil operations, this is founded in a conviction that support and reconstruction of local structures are the basis for sustainable peaceful development.[123]

On the other hand, for military and political operations (including major economic development operations) controlled by supranational entities, a top-down perspective may be the natural choice. Here too this is not merely a question of the structure of the organisation, but also of that organisation’s view of operations as an intervention in another nation. This is perhaps most clearly illustrated by the repeated demands that before an operation is commenced there must be agreement with the leaders of the factions about its purpose.[124] However, this attitude has met with certain difficulties for operations in areas where there is no clear leadership or administration, as was the case in Somalia, for example.

However, tactical military units are often well staffed and regularly patrol their area of operations. This gives them opportunities to form good relations with the local leaders and authorities and gain good knowledge about local conditions such as food supplies, the housing situation and political tensions.

Therefore, the differences between a bottom-up and a top-down perspective affects how operations are planned . The former places the priority on individuals and local groups while the latter primarily pays attention to national interests. The former is carried out in the form of smaller, local projects, while the latter generally requires larger and more centralised operations. This may cause difficulties in the co-ordination between these two types of operations, for instance the proper level of operations. A small NGO defines its policy at the local level, perhaps discussing issues with a battalion or company of the international force, while the policy of the international force is decided internationally, or at least at the corps level.

Different time perspectives and aims of operations

Military and civil operations can find themselves in a situation in which they do not share, and perhaps do not even understand, each other’s immediate aims (this does not mean that they do not share the overriding aim, i.e. to achieve peace and stability). The military operation has the task of establishing and maintaining calm in a given area. This may come into conflict, for example, with UNHCR’s desire to move refugees back, the political desire to capture and put on trial war criminals such as Karadzic, or an NGO desire to supply fuel to a particular faction’s ambulances. All sides are of the opinion that their own perspective is the correct one.

This is also linked to the fact that operations have different time perspectives, both looking backwards and forwards. Whereas aid organisations and sometimes development bodies have been in the area for a long time and have often established a contact network and modus operandi, the military are newcomers, albeit newcomers who have an enormous influence on the situation.[125] Civil operations, especially those of a development nature, are prepared to stay in the area for perhaps five or ten years, whereas the military often have a mandate limited to one or two years. Consequently this means that they often fall out of synchronisation with each other creating differing opinions concerning for instance what is ”reasonable” progress during a certain time period. In Bosnia, for example, the recurring date for the withdrawal of the military force has been a constant source of worry, and it is not hard to imagine that within the factions there are groups whose desire (or lack of desire) to follow the civilian parts of the Dayton agreement has been governed by this fact.

Trust and mistrust between organisations

The points discussed above are all, more or less, about a lack of trust between the various operations. This is also compounded by the fact that many (though not all) civil organisations are of a completely different make-up than the military. They are less hierarchical, their senior chiefs are younger (which sometimes also means less experienced) than their opposite numbers in the military, they are small and have shorter decision paths, etc.[126] It is also usual for representatives of civil organisations to view the military operation as “militarists and Rambos”, whilst the military view the civilians as badly organised idealists.[127]

On the part of NGOs and other civil organisations there is also a fear that the military wish to take over a larger amount of the finance available for operations at their expense, and that politicians might well go along with this. Together with this there is also a mistrust of the motives for military operations and a fear that in reality they are a continuation of traditional major power and western political interest policies.[128] “Double standards” in respect of military operations (the location rather than the need decides where and when an intervention is carried out – Europe is easier than Africa) do not improve the situation.[129] Mistrust can also be further increased by that fact that military operations often flood the area and affect all other activities.[130]

This is not, however, always the case. In Rwanda the Médecins sans Frontières, the Red Cross and the UNAMIR worked very closely and well together during the most critical period, spring 1994. In this case, mistrust was replaced by trust. This was partly due to the fact that only a few organisations remained in the area, and the situation was such that they were undoubtedly dependent on each other for survival.[131]

Suggestions on a new institution for civil-military co-ordination

It is high time to present suggestions for a model of how to solve the problems discussed in earlier sections. The model is not in any way intended as a final product, but rather as a starting point for further discussions. Accordingly, the model is presented first and then followed by a brief examination of how it addresses the problems identified earlier.

To recommend the creation of a new organisation or institution for these purposes is not in any way unique for this paper. Several authors have done the same. [132] An important question is if those organisations and institutions existing today could do the job instead? The easiest answer would be ”well, why don’t they”. This is, of course, oversimplifying a complex problem – perhaps the existing organisations do not solve the problem simply because they are not allowed to solve the problem by other organisations or centres of power. As we have noted earlier, the answer to this latter question is partly ”yes”. And what would then prevent any new institution from ending up in the same situation? A new institution thus has to be able to handle these problems as well as offer some rewards to the participating organisations.

Acceptance by the important UN agencies, and by at least most of the IOs, NGOs and GOs, is essential to a co-ordinating institution. Without that it would not have anything to co-ordinate. Most likely, the only way to achieve such an acceptance is through voluntary agreements.

Too much emphasis on institutionalisation the co-ordinating institution could lead to a backlash in the form of bureaucratisation, and furthermore invite criticism and resistance. Without any institutionalisation, however, the co-ordinating body could end up in a situation where it is not given enough weight and consistency in relation to the other organisations. In this proposal, the guiding principle has been to find a middle way by giving strength, but at the same time avoiding a situation where the institution would be seen as a major threat by other organisations.

An institution for civil-military co-ordination in peace support operations

An institution may be characterised by its principles, norms, rules and principles of decisions concerning a specific complex of questions that the actors have agreed upon.[133] In this section we shall discuss what these factors could look like for an institution hoping to increase co-ordination between civil and military operations.

Principles: The founding principle should be the sovereignty of the participating organisations together with the objective of increased co-ordination: The co-ordination should be carried out in the form of a neutral arena for the exchange of information and by promoting a common picture of the conflict.

Norms: The founding norm should be that no participating organisation should strive for domination over the others. Closely related to this is that the participating organisations should focus on their specific fields of knowledge. Furthermore, each participating organisation should have access to all the information of the institution and have the right to influence its policy.

Rules. In this context, the rules can only be described very briefly. The main rules are presented below:

  • The institution is established for each conflict in which international operations containing civil and military components is plausible.
  • The institution must not have any dominating ties to states or organisations.
  • The institution should work through centres of co-ordination at the strategic, operational and tactical levels. At each level, all organisations (military, GO, NGO, IO, donors, etc.) active at that specific level should be invited to participate.
  • The participating organisations should focus on their own main specific fields of knowledge and their own main task thus limiting the competition between civil and military organisations as well as between civil organisations as much as possible.
  • Organisations that choose not to participate should not be punished in any way except by not having immediate access to the information and not having the possibility to influence the overall policy of the institution. However, it should be possible to exclude organisations that are clearly partial, openly opposing the work of the institution or not working in a professional manner. Membership should be a mark of a certain quality.
  • The participating organisations commit themselves to follow the decisions made by the institution.
  • Controversies and conflicts between participating organisations are to be solved in an arbitration procedure by the board of the institution, at the appropriate level.

Decision-making processes: The institution does not have any formal, hierarchical powers over the participating organisations, but it is expected that consensus decisions will be respected. Furthermore, at each level (strategic, operational, and tactical), the institution should have a board consisting of representatives from the participating organisations. The board should be chaired by a representative of the dominant mission’s component. Decisions should be made by consensus. Finally, there should not exist any hierarchy between the different levels of the institution, but they should provide each other with the relevant information without any delay.

Incentives: A basic prerequisite for the institution is that the participating organisations (IO, NGO, GO, donors, military units, etc.) have a clear incentive to do so. However, there may exist reasons for a certain organisation not to participate, and in such cases, the long-term advantages must outweigh these disadvantages.

Thus far, we have deliberately stayed clear from discussions about organisation – both structures and financing – to avoid unnecessary parallels between existing organisations or to invite criticism against organisational details when discussing principles. However, to facilitate further discussion, we will give the institution a name: Institution for Co-ordination in Complex Emergencies (ICCE).

It should be possible to include nationally co-ordinated civil and military operations in the ICCE as long as these do not deviate from the overreaching norms and principles of the ICCE. However, it is important that this national co-ordination does not put further national restrictions on the commanders’ possibilities to command their units.

How the model handles the previously identified problems

In this sections we will very briefly discuss the necessary prerequisites with which to enable the ICCE to be able to handle the previously identified problems. However, regardless of how well we engineer an ICCE there will always be ”basic problems” that it will not be able to solve. Perhaps the most apparent one is the case where local leaders perceive the international mission as a threat to their authority. This conflict of interest can hardly be solved with ”sensible compromises”. Instead, if put to the test, it might be necessary to use economic, political or military pressure to make the parties accept the overall mission.

Another basic problem is the catch 22 of the civil organisations wanting to preserve their independence towards the military operations and thus their impartiality in the eyes of the parties, while needing the protection from the same military operations in order to resist being pressured to partiality by the local parties. In this case, the ICCE might be able to reduce the effects somewhat. By arranging a neutral arena, not under the control of any of the components of the mission and letting each organisation focus on their own main tasks, the ICCE can facilitate co-ordination at the tactical, operational and strategic level while avoiding being seen as one unit by the parties. However, this requires that organisations be allowed to stay outside ICCE without any ”punishments” and that the recommendations of the ICCE are considered guidelines and not orders.

To focus on your own main tasks, knowing that the other organisations have a similar view of the situation, and to get the opportunity to influence the work of other organisations during policy discussions, also means an increased ability for the ICCE to accommodate a number of different approaches. This includes operations in co-operation with, or for the local population, long-term and short-term operations, operations by organisations with limited experience, military run civil operations and operations with a bottom-up or top-down perspective. An ICCE could function as a supporting and advisory organisation, act as an intermediary for resources and knowledge between organisations and as a provider of a common picture of the situation to help executors as well as donors to see possibilities and shortcomings in the overall operation.

The specific problems of the military operations, such as politicisation, domination, composition and rotation are, to a great extent, ”basic problems” due to national interests that can be influenced by an institution such as the ICCE in only a marginal way. Some of the effects of these problems could possibly be mitigated by the ICCE. If the ICCE could foster such co-operation so that in the future, states take a similar responsibility for civil operations that they finance as they do for military operations, this could reduce the risk of badly timed extraction dates. If areas with military units less well prepared for supporting the civil operations could be identified and given extra support through an ICCE, the effects of differences between military contingents could be reduced. If an ICCE could work as a link between the civil and military hierarchies this could mean increased co-ordination without renouncing each organisation’s need for control over its units.

Donor support is one key to make an ICCE work and to interest organisations in participating. If membership in an ICCE is viewed as a mark of quality by the donors, these donors may also influence the NGO, GO and IO to actively work with the ICCE.

There also exist at least three different, significant risks with an ICCE. Firstly, the institution itself will become a junction where all the antagonisms that exist between organisations, states and local parties are focused. This is especially valid in regard to the competition for influence and available resources, for the aversion of some states and organisations to let go of some of their influence and power as well as for the conflict between short-term goals of different operations. This may lead to a paralysis of the entire operation. Therefore, in order to be able to handle these problems to some extent, tools such as arbitration procedures, a chairman from the dominating component of the operation, and a spirit of respect for each other’s specific natures are important Secondly, an ICCE that becomes dominated by a state or organisation in such a way that its credibility, and consequently, its ability to co-ordinate a large number of different types of organisations, would be seriously undermined.

Finally, a too efficient ICCE could curb the multitude of organisations and approaches present in today’s operations. This multitude leaves the overall success of a mission independent of the viability of one single idea or strategy but if the ICCE would result in a highly centralised system, this might no longer be the case.

Concluding Remarks

In a fable by Aesop, a farmer saves a snake from certain death only to be fatally bitten by the reptile. The moral, ”the greatest kindness will not bind the ungrateful”, is also relevant to peace operations. No matter how good our intentions are, if we are not observant we will be used by those that we try to help. Above all, we have to realise that good is not always rewarded with good.

From this perspective, the perhaps most important task of any civil-military co-ordination is to make sure that in every situation, the operation has access to both a stick and a carrot. If a civil operation cannot protect itself or cannot find protection for those, who when confronted by local leaders opposing a peaceful development, try to be a part of their programme, the civil operation can hardly be considered a success other than in a very narrow sense. Furthermore, the military operations need the civil operations so that they can withdraw and still leave a positive development behind.

But this calls for much more co-ordination and conditionality than is the case today. Should an area that openly, or covertly, supports a leader wishing to prolong the conflict be given any civil support? There is no easy answer. Both humanitarian values and the need to end the conflict must be evaluated in each situation.

So, is civil-military co-ordination an impossible necessity? This paper has described the pre-requisites and problems associated with co-ordination, and to some extent, pointed out some possible solutions. The author is convinced that if there is a political will, it is possible to solve the problems of co-ordination, especially in light of a growing understanding of their mutual dependency on current operations. The question is how long we can afford to wait for any viable solutions?


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This paper is based on a study funded by the Swedish MoD. However, the views expressed are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of FOA, the Swedish Government or the Swedish Armed Forces. The author wishes to express his gratitude to a number of colleagues for valuable comments as well as to the Swedish forces in Bosnia that has welcomed him so generously at each of his visits. Of course, the author is solely responsible for any shortcomings in the paper.

[1] These types of motives have, to a varying degree, been present in most of the conflicts handled by the peace support operations of recent years (Bosnia, Somalia, Rwanda/Burundi etc).

[2]Mao said that revolutionaries had to exist among the people as fish swim in the sea, implying that without the people, the revolutionary becomes like a fish out of water.

For instance, the post cold war conflicts of Bosnia and Rwanda are not traditional civil wars within a group, but rather wars between different national and/or ethnic groups. This implies a more nationalistic mobilisation of the people compared to a civil war on an ideological basis. See footnote 5.

[3] Some examples of this are the Contras in El Salvador, the government of South Vietnam, the French in Algeria, the Afghan government in the eighties and Sendero Luminoso in Peru. Of course, there are exceptions where civil wars have been won by factions with weak popular support (from one’s own group if nationally/ethnically divided). This has often been the case where all sides have had weak support or where the winning side had significant support from institutions such as the military and the police.

Perhaps those who have used this most systematically are the British, who in Malaya worked from the hypothesis that the main part of the population either did not support the guerrillas or just waited to side with the winning faction. This led to the British focus on ”hearts and minds” to convince the hesitant that the government side was the legal one, as well as strongest one, and to efforts to guarantee the safety of those who chose to side with the government.

[4] See for instance van Evera, 1994, page 31, who discusses how leaders use nationalistic myths to be able to demand even larger sacrifices from the population.

[5] Compare, for example, the constant outbreaks of civil conflict with ethnic or nationalistic overtones in the Balkans with the current stability in Spain and Finland, countries that have both suffered from fierce, but mainly ideologically driven, civil wars. There are, of course, exceptions. The relative calm of Lebanon since the mid-nineties is one, partly explained by the Syrian ”warm and wet wrapping” after the Gulf war.

Chaim Kaufmann is of the opinion that the ”mutual security condition” is very difficult to fulfil when the confidence between two easily discernible factions (i.e. nationalistic or ethnic) has broken down without a strict separation of the populations. The groups would, according to Kaufmann, feel such fear of each other, underscored by deeds as well as propaganda, that they hardly would take the risk of living as neighbours again. Kaufmann, 1996, passim.

[6] Events like the one described here occurred in Bosnia on an almost daily basis during the author’s stay with the Swedish battalion in 1996. During another visit to Bosnia, in the spring of 1998, the events in Derventa were described in a similar manner.

[7] To push the conspiracy even further, one could ponder the possibility of the nationalistic parties actually making a deal concerning these types of actions.

[8] For instance, during the war in Bosnia almost all media were under the control of the different factions. This has also continued to be the case after the Dayton peace agreement and media that ”fail” in their loyalty are put under pressure.

[9] The idea being to provoke the state to such reactions that it would reveal itself to the people as a repressive police state. However, the people showed little interest in this and were eager to see the terrorists captured and the peace restored.

[10] The government burnt down villages allegedly harbouring supporters of the guerrillas. Short, 1975, p 162ff. The guerrillas continued attacks to burden the civil population (for instance, by destroying water supplies – Clutterbuck, 1966, p 81f) hoping that the people would then turn against the British who were unable to protect them.

[11] There were incidents during the shelling of the government controlled parts of Sarajevo where the origin of the grenades was questioned.

[12] In Germany in the 70s, there existed a strong state, and in Malaya in the 50s the British supported the government. In Bosnia and Somalia no such alternatives were present. The population knew that when the international community had withdrawn for the night, or for the next operation, all that would remain would be them and the local armed groups.

[13] Kaufmann, 1996, passim.

[14] The refugee return operations in Bosnia provide several examples. However, it should be noted that in 1998 a more positive development seems to have begun where the use of ”carrots and sticks” of an economic nature convinced local factions to honour the Dayton agreement. During a visit to Bosnia in 1998 the author was shown several examples of this: minority return in areas that had earlier stubbornly rejected this, official meetings between representatives of opposing sides who had earlier only met informally, and communities which made great efforts to have their elections certified (e.g. seize to hide alleged war criminals). Of course, many tests still remain before these methods have proven themselves a success. Furthermore, the demands for physical security for the returnees are still highly relevant.

[15] For instance, compare this with the events in the Serbian suburbs of Sarajevo in 1995 where plundering and arson could go on uninterrupted in front of IFOR soldiers. A similar situation arose in the Haiti operation, but there, the American soldiers, after some strong TV-footage, changed their tactics and stopped the worst excesses.

There also exist significant differences between contingents. In SFOR, for instance, the British units have carried out stabilising or protective operations in connection with refugee return, while the American units have been more hesitant. International Crisis Group, 1998, section 6.2.

[16] The Dayton Peace Agreement shows examples of all of these aspects.

[17] The Lebanese constitution before the outbreak of the civil war provided a reasonably well functioning system of power sharing based on each faction’s share of the population. However, when the demography changed the dominant group did not allow the constitution to change with it. The result was that the Lebanese state had less and less ability to handle internal and external stresses. See for instance Eriksson, 1991, passim.

[18] For instance, the United States guaranteed the Camp David agreement through an extensive surveillance system so that each side could feel assured that it would be warned of any attempts to break the agreement. This type of arrangement must not, however, become an excuse for the parties to avoid addressing their problems – compare with the situation in Cyprus.

[19] There is an ongoing academic discussion on how to handle ethnic conflicts. Chaim Kaufmann represents a faction suggesting that separation is perhaps the only way to disarm a violent ethnic conflict. Another faction promotes the idea that the creation of a sense of loyalty towards the state and its institutions, rather than to one’s own group, would lead to increasing co-operation. See Horowitz, 1985,p 565ff.

Arend Lijphart, on the other hand, promotes the idea of power sharing as a tool to remove or smooth over the tensions between groups (see Lijphart, 1977, passim). Horowitz does the same, but criticises Lijphart for basing his theories on the experiences of the divided European democracies (Belgium and Switzerland) not taking into consideration that these conflicts are often of a less serious nature where, for instance, political parties often include members from all groups. Horowitz argues that Lijphart’s theories presuppose an intra-group homogeneity that seldom exists in reality. Horowitz, p 570ff.

[20] See Eriksson and Sjöberg, 1998a, passim.

[21] In Bosnia some signs point to the conclusion that in the long run the opposite strategy will return interesting results. To isolate certain persons so that their prestige is affected and the people lose respect for them may result in that they are more often seen as a hinder to political and economic development.

[22] See for instance King, 1996,p 64f. Although King does not regard this as the only strategy he seems to prefer it to isolation of certain leaders.

[23] President Tudjman has labelled his political opposition ”enemies of the state” that are ”manipulated by foreign forces”. ”Oppositionen slås ned” Dagens Nyheter, 27/03/1996.

[24] The spokesman of Radovan Karadzic accused the UN of being ”an active party of the conflict” in connection with the air strikes in the spring 1995. The spokesman of the bosnian-serb ”parliament”, Krajisnik, the same day said that ”the UN should be worried…we cannot be friends with those who act as our enemies”. ”Serberna pressar FN. Svåraste krisen sedan FN-insatsen i Bosnien inleddes. Strider i Sarajevo”. Dagens Nyheter, 28/05/1995.

[25] Joint Evaluation of Emergency Assistance to Rwanda, 1996a, page 38.

[26] Almén, Eriksson and Lindgren, 1996, page 11.

[27] Ibid, page 14.

[28] For instance, in the case of certain NGO’s, ”To favour one’s own domestic enterprise” could be exchanged for ”To favour one’s own fundraising”.

[29] When the US entered Somalia with an operation aimed at preventing catastrophe with the aid of military support, this was, according to some observers, chiefly motivated for reasons of domestic policy and public opinion (See Strobel, 1997, pages 135-136.) The opportunities that the operation created for relieving the pressures of famine on a large group of Somalis did, however, have a tangible and positive outcome.

[30] The situation may well be similar to that around the Great Lakes of Africa in the spring of 1994. There was no co-ordinated operation, only a very large number of NGO’s and IO’s, badly co-ordinated themselves and with very little, if any, co-ordination with the various military operations in the area.

[31] However, what we might find impartial, for instance delivering food to a starving village might be seen as very partial by the group that are trying to starve the village to submission.

[32] State is used here in a more general sense, including not only traditional nationstates but also regions controlled by a war-lord or a local faction (Aidid in Somalia and the Bosnian-Serbs being two examples).

[33] Knudsen, 1997, page 146-161.

[34] Of course, this is assuming that it does not present that local government as weak – compare North Korea’s ambivalence towards accepting aid.

[35] When a political system with local and regional government was about to be established in Somalia, one of the international conditions set down was that women were to be represented and that all representatives were to be literate. In turn this also meant a break with Somali tradition, excluding several of the influential local leaders from the political process. The idea behind it was good, but the break with Somali tradition was so great that several important persons and leaders were excluded from the process. Bruce Hoffman, quoted in Eriksson, Rekkedal and Strømmen, 1996, page 19.

[36] Concerning Somalia, see for example Halim, 1997, page 73.

In Cambodia, the authorities refused to prosecute those arrested by UNTAC. The Cambodian courts also refused to accept that the UN prosecutors should have any right to speak in a Cambodian courtroom. Findlay, 1995, page 65.

[37] Roberts, 1996, page 76.

[38] Roberts is of the opinion that this might be inadequate in cases where no local administration exists. Roberts, 1996, page 45.

[39] This could be compared with the discussion about the impartiality of the military operations where the so-called ”traditional” operations, often with a chapter six mandate, to a large extent, chose not to act against transgressions, only to observe and report. As a contrast, the so-called ”second generation” operations, often with a chapter seven mandate, have taken the position of the impartial policeman, i.e. identical transgressions suffer identical sanctions, regardless of who the perpetrator is.

[40] For example, the Bosnian-Serbs did not regard food deliveries to the Muslim enclaves in eastern Bosnia as impartial.

[41] In Somalia the warlords thought that political reforms would be unfavourable to them and worked against them. In Cambodia the Khmer Rouge resisted an efficient implementation of the very same agreement that they themselves had signed.

[42] In December 1996 six people attached to the Red Cross were murdered at a hospital in Chechnya. This was not the first time, and not the last, that aid organisations and their staff have been the subjects of violence and threats of violence. What was special on this occasion was that it was the Red Cross, the very organisation which has fought hardest to maintain its independence from other organisations and its impartiality as a protection and a way of facilitating permission to work in various war zones. Red Cross staff on the spot had refused all offers to guard the hospital, probably because of the risk that the Red Cross might be seen as partial. Dagens Nyheter 20/12/1996.

[43] See for example Granholm, Omang and Tjøstheim, 1995, Ordning eller kaos, passim.

[44] In Bosnia, the Bosnian-Serbs were singled out as being chiefly responsible for the conflict: in Somalia it was Aidid. In both cases this accusation led to the party in question refusing or making difficult any aid efforts inside the territory which they controlled.

[45] See for example UNHCR, 1995, section 5.5.

[46] For example, the Red Cross in Chechnya after the murders in 1996. Other examples are the withdrawal of almost all aid organisations from Liberia in 1994 and the periodical withdrawal of aid organisations from certain parts of Rwanda/Burundi/Zaire as well as Bosnia.

[47] For example, the Red Cross, the Medecins sans Frontiers and the UNAMIR co-operated in Rwanda during the most critical period in the spring 1994. Connaughton, 1995, just after footnote 44.

[48] In Angola 1994, most civil organisations (UN agencies as well as NGO’s) tried to disassociate themselves from the political process and the military development, i.e. from the SRSG and the UNAVEM operation. The reason for this was primarily fear of being infected by the bad reputation that these two institutions obtained after the resumed hostilities. Lanzer, 1996, page 13-14.

[49] An example could be an organisation that delivers supplies, such as petrol, which may benefit the war effort of a group.

[50] For a discussion on the question of ”with” or ”for” see Weiss and Collins, 1996, pages 154-162 and 173-175. The authors are very critical towards what they see as the unwillingness of the first world to let the local structures control the use of the assistance. In addition, they emphasise the importance of making use of local labour, including various specialists (medical doctors, engineers, etc.).

To exemplify how ”for”, combined with the cynicism and egoism of certain less scrupulous aid organisations can lead to disastrous effects, see Maren, 1997, The Road to Hell, passim. Maren, a journalist and former aid worker, is very negative towards the ability of the aid organisations and is of the opinion that aid, in its present form, generally does more bad than good. In spite of its sometimes biased repeating of the negative effects, the book is valuable as an illustration of the problems and risks connected with aid work.

[51] The “café syndrome” – there is little else to do other than sit in cafés, something rather common in areas of war or crisis.

[52] Weiss and Collins, 1996, page 115 and 155.

The Swedish aid agency includes in its refugee return projects not only reconstruction of houses but also reconstruction of schools, healthcare and small businesses. SIDA also demands that local labour be used in the projects. Interview Bo Elding, SIDA 1997-11-04 and SIDA, 1997.

[53] Somalia is one example that implies that the presence/absence of a military operation affects the interest of the media, where in 1997 a severe flood posed a threat to the population in a large area and created at least 150,000 displaced persons. OCHA, 1997. The media coverage of this situation was limited.

[54] See OECD, 1997, page 21. Two examples mentioned in this report are farmers that stop saving part of their harvest for seed because they know they will be supplied, and local administration that is weakened when functions are taken over by NGO’s and IO’s.

[55] Ginifer, 1997, page 10. See also next footnote.

[56] In Bosnia there is a need for specialists – medical doctors, engineers, administrators, etc. – to solve certain urgent problems. To get these groups to return should be a task that is initiated at the same time as the first emergency operations.

[57] See for example ”Help worsened the tragedy. The world has accepted that the Hutu refugees will remain in camps for more than two years” (in Swedish), Dagens Nyheter 30/10/96 or ”Aid went to the guerrilla” (in Swedish), Metro 20/05/98.

[58] For example, Adam Roberts believes that since it is seldom the local military forces that are affected by the lack of basic resources, emergency aid will eventually be to the benefit of the civilian population in any case. Roberts, 1996, page 59.

[59] Although it might be true that soldiers are seldom the starving ones, regardless of the volume of aid that reaches an area, it is probably also true that easily accessible goods constitute a temptation. Furthermore, the soldiers might try to sell the goods to get money. In the worst scenario the goods are not even sold within the crisis area.

[60] Slim, 1997, page 16.

[61] The aid organisations were also forced to hire guards from the warlords. Of course these guards were first and foremost loyal to their Somali master. ”Threats and thefts controls emergency aid. UN and the Red Cross in Somalia overcome by the lawlessness” (in Swedish), Dagens Nyheter 7/10/92.

[62] During travels in Bosnia in the spring of 1998, this situation was confirmed by a number of interviewees from UNHCR and OHR. For instance, the problem of how to carry out purchases in a correct manner and avoid having it controlled by a small number of local persons was mentioned by both military and civil organisations. Several interviewees also pointed out the fact that while some people seemed to have improved their situation during and after the war, large groups had seen their complete existence destroyed.

[63] This might very well be one of the major obstacles for long-term peace in an area.

[64] General Dallaire quoted in Connaughton, 1995, between footnote 103 and 104.

[65] The difference in quality between these NGOs was enormous. Medecins sans Frontières earned a lot of respect and praise for their work, not least because they remained in the area during a period when most others had left. The work of certain other organisations seemed to be more superfluous. An American NGO, for instance, sent a large amount of a ”sports drink”, which happened to be the only sponsoring they had managed to get. Joint Evaluation of Emergency Assistance to Rwanda, 1996b, page 152.

The readers interested in a more personal review to the differences between in quality and purpose of aid organisations are recommended Maren, 1997, passim.

[66] Joint Evaluation of Emergency Assistance to Rwanda, 1996b, pp72. The example of Rwanda is in no way unique. Any study of the conditions in Bosnia in 1997 would probably have shown that the need for various types of emergency help was well below the level of help available.

[67] Ibid, page 126.

[68] Pugh and Cunliffe, 1997, pages 21-22.

[69] Carl Bildt, 1997, pages 337-341 and 417-418. Although Carl Bildt gives his interpretation of the events and can hardly be completely objective, at least his book shows that these tensions were present.

[70] The number of NGO can be overwhelming. In conflicts such as Bosnia and Rwanda they were counted in several hundreds.

[71] Pugh and Cunliffe, 1997, pages 17-30.

[72] For example, it has proved difficult for UNHCR to set aside resources for overall co-ordination if there is still an unsolved refugee problem in the area. Ibid, page 17-30.

[73] Ibid, pages 17-30.

[74] Lanzer, 1996, passim and Seybolt, unknown year, page 32 and Joint Evaluation of Emergency Assistance to Rwanda, 1996b, page 125.

[75] The Dayton Peace Agreement, annex 10, article 2, paragraph c.

[76] This was confirmed in interviews with officials at the OHR as well other organisations spring 1998.

[77] In 1998 the functional task forces were Water/Waste Management, Electrical Power and Coal, Natural Gas And District Heating, Transport, Agriculture/Food Aid, Education/Cultural Facilities, Health/Social Safety Net, Housing, Landmines, Industry/Finance, Employment / Training, Macroeconomics, Telecommunication. Furthermore, there existed geographical ”Reconstruction and Return Task Forces” as well as an ”Economic Task Force”. OHR, 1998a.

[78] During the author’s visits to Bosnia in 1998 criticism was raised against OHR concerning the choice of areas for refugee return. Two senior representatives of two different organisations were of the opinion that the OHR had come under the influence of the large donor Germany, which had a specific interest in starting refugee return to specific areas that are the home of a large portion of the refugees in Germany.

[79] Strømmen and Westberg, 1995, page 10.

[80] Ibid, page 9. Operational control means that a commander only has access to a certain unit for a certain task, limited in size and time.

[81] In 1995 the French president ordered a French unit to counter-attack and take back a bridge taken by the Serbs the previous day . In October 1993 a Swedish unit was stopped from regrouping after a personal intervention from the Swedish Ministry of Defence.

[82] One example from Bosnia is the air strikes in 1995. The UN was under considerable pressure from the US to act. Unfortunately the strikes led to a large number of UN observers being taken hostage since noone seemed to have thought of withdrawing them before the air strikes. See ”Jours de crise a l’ONU”, Le Monde 21/10/95. Another incident is the fall of Srebrenica, where the Dutch unit was left without assistance in an almost impossible situation during the Serb attacks.

[83] To use this kind of influence tocontrol the operational realisation of the mission, due to national or political reasons is, however, serious and has to be condemned since it endangers the success of the operation as well as the credibility of the mandatory organisation (UN; OSCE, etc.).

[84] See footnote 82.

[85] Compare with the discussions in 1994-95 concerning the risk that the troubles of UNPROFOR would lead to a loss of authority for the UN and a split between different members of NATO.

[86] Compare with the tug of war between the United States and Russia on how to handle the Serbs as well as between the United States and Europe on when and how to use force in Bosnia.

[87] For a long time the United States were unwilling to send troops to Bosnia. Instead they preferred to participate in the air operation, something which has been interpreted as an unwillingness to embark on new ground operations after the humiliating events in Somalia.

[88] When the UNOSOM II took over from the UNITAF in Somalia it had less resources but more extensive and sensitive tasks, for instance the reconstruction of the political system. When the parties decided to oppose the operation it was bound for failure.

[89] The British force in Bosnia has been more willing to take on tasks such as arresting war criminals and promoting calm among civilians. See footnote 15.

[90] Admiral Leighton Smith’s statement at an IFOR press conference could be seen as an example of this. On the question if the mandate had to be changed to allow for the arrest of war criminals the admiral answered that ”it [the mandate] gave us the authority to take care of our people and to do the missions as I understood the missions to be in annex one.”. On the follow-up question if there does not exist a ”reality gap” between this official view and the reality in Bosnia the admiral answered, noticeably sharp ”yes ma’am, there is also a reality gap in Somalia. And some people have very, very short memories.” NATO/AFSOUTH, 1996.

[91] United Nations, 1990, page 117

[92] This is the author’s estimation after spending six months as a UN officer in Lebanon in 1987/88.

[93] The author does not wish to point out any single country in this paper, but it is quite clear that units that arrive in an area of operations, in a temperate zone, with no vehicles and no winter equipment, have severe limitations placed on their usability. However, the picture is complex. Firstly, there is a great difference between the ability and equipment of different third world states and it would be unfortunate to judge all alike. Secondly, some third world units might have certain advantages due to their background. For instance, they might be better at identifying with and co-operating with an exposed population in another third world country.

[94] During the UNPROFOR operation, hardly any intelligence was disseminated from the operational and tactical headquarters. This changed noticeable after the IFOR takeover. Eriksson, Rekkedal and Strømmen, 1996, page 31.

[95] When the OHR was about to open its office, it soon discovered that IFOR had already used its large resources to buy up most of local office space, personnel and equipment. The Swedish unit in Bosnia has, as a rule, not bought critical resources such as fuel and foodstuffs locally, even when cut off.

[96] There are examples of longer (the Finns have one year and only rotate one third of the unit at a time) as well as shorter times in the area (the Belgians have tried four months without any leave during the tour of duty).

[97] Interviewed representatives of UNHCR and OHR have all expressed this. See Eriksson, 1998b, appendix A.

[98] Ibid, page 27.

[99] For instance, the construction of two playgrounds during 1997 represented a substantial effort for the Swedish battalion.

[100] If they are already in place in the area and no extra resources have to be sent in, the extra cost may only be marginal. However, if the civil projects demand such resources that more military units must be sent in, the cost will be much higher.

[101] In Lebanon, local tensions developed when the Finnish battalion carried out a number of projects in its area of operations. Although the Finbat gained goodwill, the neighbouring battalion, which had fewer resources for civil projects, gained ”badwill” when the local population saw that the UN carried out projects in other areas but not in theirs. Lt. Col. Anders Ahliny quoted in Almén, Eriksson and Lindgren, 1996, page 16.

[102] Almén, Eriksson, Lindgren, 1996, pages 13-15.

[103] The NATO definition of CIMIC is ”Cooperation in peace or war between civil and military authorities, both NATO and national, with a view to ensuring an effective overall defense of the NATO area.” CIMIC in peace support operations has had a wider interpretation, including co-operation with the international civil organisations working in the area.

[104] Compare for instance with the parties in Bosnia when the credibility of UNPROFOR had reached a low-water mark in 1994/95.

[105] Interview with Col Lars Fagerberg, Deputy Brigade Commander with responsibility for CIMIC, spring 1998.

[106] Compare with the improvements in the conditions for the civil organisations in Somalia created by the UNITAF.

[107] Short, 1975, page 483.

[108] These types of carrots and have been perceived as having limited effects for some time. During 1998 there were some positive developments in Bosnia. Among other things, villages in the northern parts of Bosnia have, after using economic sanctions as a means of exerting pressure (for instance, by not certifying the local elections and thereby stopping any funds for reconstruction) been forced to turn over war criminals.

[109] The British units in Bosnia have carried out several such operations. Among others, they increased the pressure in Prozor-Rama in order to guarantee the peace in the area during a sensitive period of the resettlement of refugees. International Crisis Group, 1998, section 6.2. The American units, on the other hand, have had a much more narrow interpretation of the mandate.

[110] OHR, 1998b, section B.3.

[111] In Rwanda, a NGO wanted to deliver 4,000 litres of diesel fuel, supposedly for ”fuel water pumps”, to the Tutsis. What the NGO did not understand (or did not want to understand) was that this diesel fuel would probably be used for the war effort. Connaughton, 1995, close to footnote 55.

[112] Interview with Col Olle Broman, commander of the ninth Swedish battalion to Bosnia, 07/03/98.

[113] Interview with Lars Johan Lönnbäck, OHR, 10/03/98.

[114] Whaley, 1997, page 117.

[115] Joint Evaluation of Emergency Assistance to Rwanda (1996b), pages 133-134.

[116] Reliefweb is a system managed by OCHA to increase the world community’s ability to act on humanitarian catastrophes. The main task is to make all reliable information about conflicts, catastrophes, operations, etc. available.

[117] CMOC – Civil Military Operations Center.

[118] Eriksson, Rekkedal and Strømmen, 1996, pages 27-30. The previously described incident where UNDP officials were detained by UNOSOM II soldiers could very well be due to lack of trust and, therefore, not briefing each other on their intentions and plans.

[119] This is partly due to the fact that the different UN bodies (UNHCR, UNDP, etc.) do not automatically view the SRSG as their chief in the area of operations. Furthermore, the SRSG does not have any extensive influence over how the donors distribute their resources or how the NGO and GO carry out their operations.

[120] Discussions concerning the role and responsibility of IFOR/SFOR in regard to the arrest of Bosnian war criminals is one such question where the view of NATO differs considerably from the one of the Hague Tribunal. Another example is how fast the refugee return can be carried out – the military might want to slow the process down to avoid increased tensions in the area.

[121] A previously mentioned example is the leaflets dropped at refugee camps in Zaire telling the refugees to return to their homes, which were ordered by the Force Commander and the SRSG, but unknown to the UNHCR..

[122] Interview with the SFOR-UNHCR liaison office, 10/03/98.

[123] The SIDA programme for the reconstruction of housing in Bosnia, which is integrated with the reconstruction of schools, health care, small industries, etc., is carried out by NGOs in co-operation with the local population and in co-ordination with local authorities. SIDA, 1997.

[124] For instance, the Swedish government waited during the summer of 1993 for a peace agreement. Eventually, the unit was sent without any agreement in place.

[125] This is partly a generalisation. When a catastrophe reaches such proportions that international media pays attention to it, there is also an influx of civil organisations, mostly NGOs, which are also newcomers. See Connaughton, 1995, close to footnote 63.

[126] Thornberry, 1995, page 3. More examples can be found in for instance Lia and Hansen, 1998, page 28-30.

[127] The author has encountered both attitudes several times in Bosnia. One high ranking military officer said that he thought the personnel of the civil operations, although good-hearted and hardworking, were generally ”damned young and damned inexperienced”. See also Thornberry, 1995, page 3 for further discussion.

[128] Slim, 1997, page 137-138.

[129] Carl Bildt describes how he found that the then UN Secretary-General, Boutrus Boutrus-Ghali, were torn between thinking that Bosnia was a conflict that was less important than for example the humanitarian catastrophes in Africa, and consequently that the first world could and should manage it without using the scarce resources of the UN, and that the UN had a responsibility for all the world, including Europe. Carl Bildt, 1997, page 51.

[130] The examples of UNPROFOR/IFOR/SFOR in Bosnia and of UNITAF/UNOSOM in Somalia underline this.

[131] Connaughton, 1995, from footnote 43, and Seybolt, 1997, the section before footnote 202.

[132] Of the literature mentioned in this paper both Weiss and Collins, 1996, page 183-185 and the Joint Evaluation of Emergency Assistance to Rwanda, 1996b, page 159-160 does the same.

[133] Jönsson, Elgström and Jerneck, 1996, page 183. The authors define international regimes with the help of these factors.

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