Needs are up, spending has been rising: where is the money going?
Lack of coordination (including lack of clarity over tasks and command and reporting lines), mutual unfamiliarity, and attitudinal divergence are the principal sources of stress between peacekeepers and aid workers. Nevertheless, Chapter VI mandates rarely give rise to difficulty over the reconciliation of objectives.
However, another issue has arisen with regard to some recent operations. It centres on the application of the principle that aid is provided on the basis of need only, and that it is provided impartially and neutrally. The principle is unexceptionable, and would be fully endorsed by all representatives of the international community. The trouble is, that in its application to the kinds of conflict which have arisen, especially in Bosnia and Croatia, what the humanitarian bodies excoriate as `linkage’ has appeared in various forms. For this, they tend to hold peacekeepers responsible.
The role and effectiveness of the UN’s ‘peacekeeping’ mission in former Yugoslavia has been widely scrutinised. Less attention has been paid to the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) which, on 25 October 1991, received a letter from the UN Secretary-General, Javier Pérez de Cuéllar, requesting its assistance to displaced people in the disintegrating […]
This paper will look at the current wave of interventionism in the Third World and at some of its implications for North-South relations. It will identify and discuss three related and somewhat contradictory trends – militarization, privatization and diversion – which seem to be increasingly important features of the new world disorder. The point of view is that of the humanitarian practitioner who observes with considerable disquiet the sea changes that are taking place in what used to be, at least conceptually, a simpler and more predictable universe. Gone are the crisp concepts of the Cold War era. Everything seemed to make sense then, and what did not could not be questioned: it was relatively easy to make stubborn facts conform to grand theory. In the space of half a decade the world has become a much more complicated place, and theory is sorely lacking.
The aim and objective of this paper is the presentation of only the second major involvement of an African regional organisation in the internal affairs of a member state. The civil war in Liberia is significant for two reasons. First, it served as an important example of a new type of external intervention – intervention by a subregional organisation. Second, it has led to a re-examination by African leaders, of the policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of states. Non-intervention in the internal affairs of states is one of the principles underlying the OAU.
This paper examines the rise of the military humanitarian policy of the United Nations since 1992 and outlines the new military doctrine on peacekeeping. First it explores how a military based approach to the increasing number of complex political emergencies emerged as a deliberate policy within the United Nations in the new humanitarian era after the Cold War. Secondly, it looks at various NGO reactions to this new era. Thirdly, it compares the very different nature of today’s UN peacekeeping operations with its Cold War predecessors. Fourthly, it examines current British Army doctrine of “wider peacekeeping” and its emphasis on the principle of consent. Finally, it takes the view that the new peacekeeping is here to stay and that the main challenge facing all those involved in humanitarian assistance is to further refine its basic principles and techniques.
The purpose of this article is to explore the systemic processes which have facilitated universal proliferation and describe some of the impacts these processes have had on particular societies. This has led the author to two sets of observations based on the available empirical and anecdotal evidence. Firstly, the proliferation and use of light weapons and small arms within societies around the world can be seen as symptomatic of deeper problems at within the fabric of these societies. Therefore, to understand the effect of the light weapons equation, it is necessary to place it in the broader context of prevailing political, social and economic trends. Secondly, it is apparent that the availability and use of these weapons affects the pace and direction of societal violence. In areas where structural violence is already severe, the proliferation of light weapons and small arms accelerates prevailing trends of societal dysfunction, political anarchy and the undermining of state authority. it is also apparent that where the overall framework of state authority is not challenged, the proliferation of arms exacerbates deep social problems and widens domestic fissures.
Norwegian Institute of International Affairs, Peacekeeping and Multinational Operations No 6, 1995.
ISSN 0804-6794 © Norsk Utenrikspolitisk Institutt
1. The wrong lessons regarding the use of military force have been learnt from Somalia, the watershed experience of the second generation of UN operations.
2. The phases of international involvement in […]
It is not difficult to share in the expressions of outrage at our impotence in the face of certain humanitarian emergencies and our failure to address some of the most appalling violations of human rights. And while British Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd can speak of trying to find a middle path between “the saloon bar and Gladstone,”  a `damn the consequences’ attitude, fuelled by anger and indignation, continues to find expression in many quarters. Here, a Professor of the Yale Law School, speaking in 1986, confronts international law on the issue of starving children in Biafra:
“I don’t know much about the relevant law. My colleagues here, who do, say that it’s no insurmountable hindrance, but I don’t care much about international law, Biafra or Nigeria. Babies are dying in Biafra….We still have food for export. Let’s get it to them any way we can, dropping it from the skies, unloading it from armed ships, blasting it with cannons if that will work. I can’t believe there is much political cost in feeding babies, but if there is let’s pay it; if we are going to be hated, that’s the loveliest of grounds. Forget all the blather about international law, sovereignty and self-determination, all that abstract garbage: babies are starving to death.” 
More succinctly, there is George Bush, on the eve of the Gulf War: “…If it’s right, it’s gotta be done.”  It may be a kindness to consider this the moral imperative colloquially rendered, particularly in view of the earlier invasion of Panama – `Operation Just Cause’. Moreover, the Gulf War was not a humanitarian intervention, nor was there any significant obstacle in the way of its legal sanction by the United Nations. Nevertheless, Bush’s utterance can be taken as shorthand for what for many is the unsatisfactory tension between the prohibitive Article 2(4)  of the UN Charter and large-scale human suffering or gross abuses of human rights where the state is incapable, negligent or is itself the perpetrator. In common with popular sentiment, the theoretical debate which addresses the quandary of how to balance the claims of justice against the claims of international order is suffused with an aggrieved sense of urgency which naturally arises from our consideration of subjects so morally charged.
`Humanitarian intervention’ has taken on something of the character of a clarion call in some quarters, but the legal and practical difficulties which lie in wait just beyond our impulses should give us pause. There is no question as to whetheracts such as genocide and forced migration are the moral, legal, political and practical concern of the international community – they must be if the term `international community’ is to have any meaning at all – but the urgency to act should alert us to the importance of taking care with the means we employ and the structures which we set in place. Of course, whatever the depth of popular feeling or the supposed strength of the `CNN factor’, the deployment of military forces abroad is always founded on a hard-headed calculation of risk, and there is nothing to preclude humanitarian objectives on an agenda framed by more determinedly self-interested motivation. The point here is that the practical constraints on state action which were a feature of the Cold War are no longer operative, and a combination of other factors, by no means all media-driven, have created a climate of opportunity which has persisted in spite of – or perhaps because – the `old world order’ has re-asserted itself. The risks are less obvious. `Humanitarian intervention’, whether manifested as a rallying cry, political justification, military mission or in other forms, is wonderfully satisfying in prospect; the reality is more problematic.
The first section will consider the proposition that a right of states to intervene in humanitarian emergencies now exists, can be deduced or can be codified. The argument is contingent, of course, on the assumption that international law is not, as some would have it, a disposable abstraction. After an argument favouring law enforcement under a United Nations purview, the paper outlines a number of practical issues pertinent to any discussion of humanitarian intervention – principally by way of `conceptual unpacking’.
Although it may appear that legal and practical issues are an odd pairing, the concern here is that a largely instrumental approach to the question of humanitarian intervention is likely to be a poor servant of justice, particularly if international order and the Rule of Law are undermined, or if through ill-considered and precipitate action a bad situation is made even worse. Good intentions (a scarce enough commodity in international relations) are insufficient.
- Transgression of Human Rights in Humanitarian Emergencies: The Case of Somali Refugees in Kenya and Zimbabwean Asylum-Seekers in South Africa
- Mapping Population Mobility in a Remote Context: Health Service Planning in the Whantoa District, Western Ethiopia
- One step forward, two steps back? Humanitarian Challenges and Dilemmas in Crisis Settings