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Cockayne Malone Ralph Bunch Centennial

Cockayne Malone Ralph Bunch Centennial

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Published by: intlconflict on May 11, 2009
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The Ralph Bunche Centennial:Peace Operations Then and Now
 James Cockayne and David M. Malone
Acentury after the birth of a father of peacekeeping, Ralph Bunche,UN peace operations have changed dramatically. The narrowly defined,lightly armed, strictly neutral operations of Bunche’s day have becomecomplex, multidisciplinary state-building operations. Then, peace-keeping buttressed essentially self-enforcing cease-fires; now, it aimsto build the foundations of a self-renewing peace. These changesreflect six deeper shifts: the end of the Cold War; engagement with“internal” conflicts; rising regional organizations; North-South politics;the U.S.-UN relationship; and changes in peace operation mandates.These shifts create three future challenges: state building; the recon-ception of sovereignty; and the need for realism. The December 2004High-Level Panel report proposes modest steps toward meeting thosechallenges, but the burden of realizing the proposed framework restssquarely with UN member states.
peacekeeping, peace-building, state building, High-Level Panel, Ralph Bunche.
cholar, civil rights activist, and Nobel Peace Laureate, RalphBunche left his most enduring legacy in the field of UnitedNations peace operations. The centennial of his birth in either 2003 or 2004
served not only as an opportunity to celebrate that legacy,but also as the occasion to reflect on the changes that have occurred inUN peacekeeping since Bunche’s day.In Bunche’s day,
was a term narrowly defined andclearly understood. Today, UN peace operations cover a multiplicity of UN field activities in support of peace, ranging from essentially pre-ventive deployments to long-term state-building missions. In this articlewe analyze the major shifts in UN peace operations since the mid-1900s. After describing how peacekeeping operations looked inBunche’s era, we seek to identify continuities and changes in today’speace operations. We then analyze the reasons for these changes andconclude by examining the consequences of these changes for the UN’sinvolvement in world politics today and speculating on the shape of future UN peace operations.
Global Governance 11 (2005), 331–350
Peacekeeping Then
Peacekeeping emerged not by design but out of necessity. The found-ing members of the UN had included in Chapter VII of the UN Charter provisions (Article 42) that allowed the UN to take “action by air, sea,or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore internationalpeace and security.” The vision of a body of national military forcespermanently available to the Security Council “on its call” (Article 43)and serving as the instrument of collective security did not materializedue to Cold War antagonisms. Paradoxically, Cold War tensions servedto increase the need for an independent and impartial actor on the worldstage, ensuring that conflicts did not spiral out of control and further fuel the confrontation between capitalist and communist camps.Bunche—and a cast of other notables, including secretaries-generalTrygve Lie and Dag Hammarskjöld; members of the UN Secretariat,such as Brian Urquhart; and key players from the member states, par-ticularly Lester Pearson, Canadian minister for external affairs (andlater prime minister)—stepped into that gap. They generated an opera-tional capacity for the UN that had not been imagined for the organiza-tion. The Secretariat staff “started from scratch,” as Bunche himself suggested, unaware of what peacekeeping would involve, improvisingas they went along, and making mistakes.
The system of peacekeeping they generated involved UN missionsstaffed by lightly armed Blue Helmets (as they came to be known),operating under the strict instruction to use force only in self-defense.Falling between Chapter VI (Pacific Settlement of Disputes) and Chap-ter VII (Action with Respect to Threats to the Peace, Breaches of thePeace, and Acts of Aggression), these peace operations were creativelycrafted “Chapter VI 1/2” and required, in principle, invitation or con-sent on the part of the recipient state(s).
They operated under UN com-mand, primarily undertaking activities agreed on by belligerents, suchas separating warring parties, monitoring borders, overseeing with-drawal of foreign troops, and ceasing aid to irregular or insurrectionistmovements. The guiding principle of early peacekeeping was that itmust not give an advantage to either side involved in the conflict. BlueHelmets sought to adopt an attitude of strict neutrality and objectivity.The aims of peacekeeping in this earlier era were limited. In theMiddle East, the UN Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO)
startedout as a truce monitoring operation, later taking on the task of super-vising the implementation of the General Armistice Agreements, whichBunche facilitated on Rhodes in 1949 and for which he received theNobel Peace Prize in 1950. Similarly, the UN Emergency Force (UNEF),
The Ralph Bunche Centennial 
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,
and Yemen
 —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

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