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Somalia

Somalia

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Published by: Joyce Perez Jardeleza on May 16, 2010
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Title:The lessons from Somalia. By: Kittani, Ismat, Johnstone, Ian, UN Chronicle, 02517329,1996, Vol. 33, Issue 3Database:Academic Search Premier
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THE
 
 LESSONS
 
 FROM 
 
SOMALIA
 
Section: FIRST PERSONMore than one year after
 the
withdrawal of United Nations peace-keepers
 from
 
Somalia
,
 the
 international community is still reeling
 from
what
 the
Secretary-General called "one of 
 the
mostchallenging, arduous undertakings in
 the
Organization's 50-year history".
The
United Nations'experience there marked a turning point for its peace operations in
 the
post-coldwar era, a brief but extraordinarily eventful period for
 the
Organization. Some of 
 the
 
lessons
of that short historyhave been catalogued in
 the
Secretary-General's Supplement to An Agenda for Peace, whichsought to highlight
 the
unforeseen or only partly foreseen difficulties that had arisen since hispath-breaking Agenda for Peace of mid-1992. Yet
 the
full story of 
Somalia
remains to be toldand its full implications remain to be digested.
The
tragedy that has befallen that sad land is notover and, having intervened,
 the
international community owes it to
 the
Somali people not toforget their plight. Nor are
 the
Somali people
 the
only ones suffering
 from
 
 the
"failed state"syndrome, with its disastrous consequences.
The
 
Somalia
type of conflict is likely to plague
 the
 international community for some time to come. To a great extent, therefore,
 the
future of 
 the
 UN's role in
 the
maintenance of international peace and security depends on how well
 the
 
lessons
of 
Somalia
are learned.Before turning to those
lessons
, I would like to make two preliminary points, both of which havebeen made before, but bear repeating. First, one of 
 the
principal functions of UNOSOM II--todisarm
 the
warring factions--was a task 
 the
United Nations never wanted and was never properlyequipped to perform. Recall that
 the
Unified Task Force (UNITAF), with 37,000 troopsdeployed in 40 per cent of 
 the
country, had
 the
means and mandate to perform this critical task,and yet chose not to do so.
The
Secretary-General stressed
 the
need for disarmament in
 the
letterhe sent to
 the
Security Council that formed
 the
basis for resolution 794, which authorizedUNITAF to use "all necessary means" to create a secure environment for humanitarian relief operations.
The
Secretary-General expanded on his position in a letter to United States PresidentGeorge Bush shortly thereafter, insisting that "any forceful action by
 the
internationalcommunity in Somalia must have
 the
objective of ensuring that at least
 the
heavy weapons of 
 the
 organized factions are neutralized and brought under international control and that
 the
irregularforces and gangs are disarmed." And when
 the
14 factions agreed to disarm in January 1993 (atleast on paper),
 the
political environment became more conducive to bold action on this front.Nevertheless, by
 the
time of UNITAF's departure, with
 the
back of 
 the
famine having beenbroken,
 the
warring factions and their followers were still armed to
 the
teeth. Because of thiscontinuing source of insecurity,
 the
Security Council authorized UNOSOM II to take up
 the
 
 
challenge--with fewer troops more widely spread throughout
 the
country and, as it turned out,with
 the
main faction leaders determined to resist.My second preliminary observation concerns
 the
misconception that
 the
United Nations sawUNOSOM II as having a mandate to rebuild
Somalia
by force. When UNITAF was leaving and
 the
mission of UNOSOM II was being designed, it was understood that its enforcement powerswould extend to
 the
delivery of humanitarian relief and disarmament. They would not, however,extend to nation-building. Promoting reconciliation and helping
 the
Somali people to revive theireconomy and political institutions were part of UNOSOM's mandate, but we did not have
 the
 illusion that this could be done coercively. As I wrote to
 the
Secretary-General in a weeklyreport during my tenure as his Special Representative, delivering humanitarian assistance in ahostile environment is difficult enough, "but to move
 from
that to
 the
idea of using UN armedforces in order to achieve political reconciliation and economic viability in a completelyshattered country is mind-boggling".
The
United Nations knew
 the
magnitude of 
 the
challengein
Somalia
and it knew that most of what had to be done required
 the
cooperation andcommitment of 
 the
Somalis themselves.
THE
FIRST
principal
lesson
 
 from
 
 the
 
Somalia
experience stems
 from
 
 the
fact that
 the
UnitedNations was not and still is not equipped for large-scale enforcement operations, nor was it given
 the
resources to carry out
 the
broad mandate UNOSOM II was assigned. Since then,
 the
SecurityCouncil has typically authorized single States or multinational coalitions to conduct suchoperations--Operation Turquoise in Rwanda,
 the
United States-led intervention in Haiti before
 the
establishment of UNMIH, and
 the
NATO-led Implementation Force in Bosnia are
 the
mostobvious examples. This is not to say that delegated enforcement action is inherently better thanUN operations (distinguished as they are by their universal character), but
 the
United Nationssimply does not have
 the
capacity to manage major military operations, nor do Member Statesseem inclined to give it that capacity. There is, however, a category of conflict where somethingless than full-scale enforcement is called for, but which nevertheless requires something morethan traditional peace-keeping treatment. This category of cases requires a capacity to engage inlimited military action--to protect humanitarian relief, for example--and
 the
internationalcommunity must decide whether
 the
United Nations should be endowed with that capability, orwhether non-UN coalitions--often able but not always willing--should be left with
 the
task.
SECOND,
enforcement action should not take place concurrently with peace-keepingoperations. As
 the
Secretary-General noted in
 the
Supplement to An Agenda for Peace, peace-keeping and peace enforcement flow
 from
entirely different premises and it is dangerous to mix
 the
two.
The
situation becomes even more complicated when
 the
two operations are conductedby two different organizations, with different priorities, reporting lines and political masters.Peace enforcement, however, may be followed by peace-keeping operations under
 the
commandand control of 
 the
United Nations. In these cases,
 the
handover
 from
 
 the
non-UN force to UNpeace-keepers should be subject to careful coordination and consultation. And
 the
transitionshould not take place until
 the
mandate established by
 the
Security Council has been met and
 the
 parties to
 the
conflict consent to
 the
UN presence: UN peace-keepers cannot be expected to takeover an incomplete enforcement action. In Haiti, perhaps having learned
 the
 
lesson
of 
Somalia
,UNMIH did not deploy until all concerned were confident that
 the
United States-led intervention
 
had achieved its goals and
 the
environment was secure enough for a Chapter VI operation topursue its mandate.
THIRD,
 the
coordination of political, humanitarian, developmental and military activities iscritical.
Somalia
cried out for an integrated approach, which at times was sorely lacking. AsSpecial Representative, I instituted regular meetings with
 the
heads of all UN agencies in
 the
 field and with humanitarian non-governmental organizations. Although coordination remainedfar
 from
ideal, it was important to establish that we were all reading
 from
the same page andworking towards
 the
same goal.
The
Secretary-General has since instituted a policy that hisSpecial Representatives are responsible for overall coordination of all members of 
 the
UN familyin a mission area--a policy that has proven its worth in Rwanda, Haiti and elsewhere. Taking
 the
 logic a step further, it is now sometimes suggested that
 the
Special Representative of 
 the
 Secretary-General should be provided with a discretionary fund, to be used as an inducement for
 the
parties to cooperate and as a mechanism for connecting peacemaking and peace-keepinggoals with
 the
more long-term challenges of peace-building.
FOURTH,
 the
United Nations cannot substitute for
 the
political will of 
 the
protagonists--not by
 the
use of force, not by
 the
provision of humanitarian assistance and not by
 the
deployment of peace-keepers. It can and must, however, develop political strategies commensurate with
 the
task at hand. In
 the
case of "failed States", persuading faction leaders to end
 the
fighting and laydown their arms is just
 the
beginning. Peacemaking may require
 the
building of institutions, and
 the
rehabilitation of political and economic infrastructure. In
Somalia
, UNOSOM II helped with
 the
revival of local, district and regional governmental councils, and strived to re-establishpolitically neutral police, judicial and penal institutions. Though these measures cannot createpolitical will, which they clearly did not do in
Somalia
, they can help establish conditions withinwhich moderate elements can maneuver and seek ways of settling disputes peacefully, which inturn can provide
 the
foundation for a lasting peace. Sitting around a table to negotiate is only onepart of 
 the
process of national reconciliation.
The
setbacks suffered in
Somalia
should not cloud our view of 
 the
successes achieved there.
The
 famine was broken and untold human suffering was alleviated. But because
 the
factionsthemselves were unwilling to commit to peace, there was little more
 the
international communitycould do.
The
United Nations, however, has not given up on
Somalia
. A political officecontinues to function out of Nairobi, and it will return to Mogadishu as conditions permit. UNagencies also continue to operate, providing relief and development assistance when and wherethey can. As
 the
Secretary-General has suggested,
 the
fact that there is no government in
Somalia
does not mean
 the
United Nations cannot provide assistance to
 the
people of thatcountry--perhaps
 the
most important
lesson
of all.PHOTO (BLACK & WHITE): Under-Secretary-General Ismat Kittani~~~~~~~~By Ismat Kittani with Ian Johnstone

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