established by the General Assembly in the wake of the Suez crisis, wasmandated to supervise the withdrawal of foreign troops and, later, to actas a buffer between Egypt and Israel. Other peacekeeping operations— in Cyprus,
—had similarly limited mandates.
Peacekeeping Today—What Is the Same?
Important aspects of peacekeeping remain now as they were in this ear-lier era. Asmall number of the operations that Bunche oversaw remainalive today, notably UNTSO in the Middle East, the UN MilitaryObserver Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) for the Kashmir region, and the UN Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP). In other areas, notablythe Congo, crises of Bunche’s day were resolved, only to reappear, indifferent forms, back on the Security Council’s agenda today. In part,that continuity is a product of the approach adopted by Bunche and hiscolleagues, which they saw largely as buying time to allow political anddiplomatic developments to yield a solution where none had previouslybeen apparent.
The resulting risk—ossifying an unresolved situation or only deferring further conflict until a later date, a charge made againstthe UN mission to Cyprus since 1974 and the UN’s role in the MiddleEast in 1967—can be detected in the UN’s approach to Kosovo today.Contemporary peace operations also face many of the same opera-tional challenges as early missions. Weak command and control, inade-quate communications and logistical equipment, little prior opportunityfor detailed planning, and underequipped and ill-trained military per-sonnel are as much issues today as they were in Bunche’s day, if notmore so. In at least one area there has been an apparent decline: thepromptness with which the UN can deploy a peacekeeping force. InBunche’s day, a mission might be on the ground within weeks—evendays—after the decision to deploy; today it takes months. The reasonsfor this are complex. Early missions sometimes deployed without ade-quate support or equipment. Today’s missions undertake a greatlyenlarged range of operational tasks requiring larger numbers of person-nel. And the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) hasundergone serious shake-ups affecting recruitment and deploymenttimes.
The size of DPKO is also contentious. As the Brahimi Report
of 2000 highlighted, the growth and complexity of today’s peace oper-ations have at times led to a diffusion of responsibility to a point whereit fails to be discharged.The challenge of financing peacekeeping remains constant. Buncheknew the problems of the “tin cup,” as he called it, only too well.
James Cockayne and David M. Malone