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United Nations Peacekeeping operation in Northern Africa Essay

Proposed action:

Any course of action taken to tackle the developments in this war torn Northern Africa country have to be based on the United Nation’s security mandate in peacekeeping operation within the country.

Every so often, these Security Council’s mandates are created within a general attitude that is usually neutral, consequently making a contradiction that has the possibility of destabilizing UN operations en bloc. In the case of this scenario presented, where the situation is volatile and deteriorating very fast, the only action left to take is to comply with the military faction leader’s orders to evacuate in the next 48 hours.

Despite the huge population of refuges, very few personnel to carry out the evacuation, and no sign of help coming from other sources, the UN peacekeeping force commander is left with no choice but to evacuate since the faction leader is known for his brutality in addition, buying of time through negotiations cannot provide for a solution to the issue. (Klinger, 2005)

This new turn of events will now change the initial mandate of the peacekeeping force, which was to protect displaced persons and assist in the safe return to their homes; support in demobilization of combatants after a peace treaty is agreed upon and signed by all warring parties.

The start of this war ten years ago has seen more displaced persons increasing such that the peacekeeping force cannot handle. As the commander, try to seek for help since the resources at hand are not able to handle the huge operation and the UN force’s mandate is not to engage in war but promote peace.

However, at the same time it is important to try and start of the evacuation so as to protect the people as their safety is vital, and avoid provoking the faction leader (Pushkina, 2006). Also as an added measure, reopen negotiation channels and try to buy some time to fully evacuate everyone to safety (Goulding, 2001; Bellamy & Williams, 2004).

The commander should include a specific timeframe of operations on the onset of evacuation of the displaced people from the provisional camp. In addition to this, recall as soon as possible the other 250 troops that form up your force to come and beef up your force so as to carry out swift and quick evacuation and avert any calamities (Cottey, 2008)

Reasons for taking this action:

A number of reasons warrant this kind of action, but key among them is the mandate of the United Nations of non-engagement in war. It would be wise for the peacekeeping commander in the northern African country to use the 1990 UN peacekeeping mission to Namibia as reference point for his plan of action.

This is due to the fact that it was successful and it was also carried out in an African country. African countries, more or less have the same underlying factors fueling their conflicts, for that reason, it would be vital to use some of the strong points from that particular mission.

The Namibian peacekeeping mission was successful due to “interests of the powerful states in the security council, the situational difficulty of the Namibian civil war and the ability of United Nations Transition Assistance Group (UNTAG) to learn from, and adapt to the needs of the post-civil war environment” ( Horward, 2002).

In line with the United Nations mandate of impartiality, the rules of engagement have to be observed unless it is very necessary to engage in force. However, the situation is already volatile and deteriorating fast as evidenced with the 48 hour evacuation deadline issued (Norberg, 2003).

Impact of the action on:

Immediate crisis situation

The crisis situation as it stands is highly volatile and can degenerate at any time. Using the UN peacekeeping mission in the Congo as a case study, all indications in this situation show that an integral uncertainty may result between the Security Council’s mandate and the rules of engagement (ROE), consequently different interpretations may result. The clash will most likely come between the forces on the ground carrying out the exercise and the top brass in headquarters.

This is because the latter do not have a firsthand experience of what is going on and only rely on mandates, policies and mission statements to make their decisions, while the ground forces have to make decisions as per the changing situation on the ground (Klinger, 2005).Based on the nature of past United Nations Security Council incursions into conflict zones around the world, characterized with successes and some distressing results, the immediate crisis situation is bound to go either way.

This is due to the difference in opinions among council members and the lack of a feel of the actual territory in conflict. The application of impartiality in United Nations operations in conflict zones with mandates drawn up by the Security Council is a major player in determining the outcome of actions in a hot zone such as this (Boulden, 2005).

“The UN is a political organization with overtly political goals—the maintenance of international peace and security, for one—that suggest a need to take “partial” positions in situations that threaten international peace and security” (Boulden, 2005), with this in mind and the volatile political environment in the country, plus the different interests of the Security Council’s members, the immediate situation if not checked will deteriorate very rapidly.

This could be the case as the other strongman controlling the capital does not want to challenge the evacuation order, and the 1000 strong multinational force has not indicated any interest to offer any help.

UN reputation and legitimacy in general

The question whether the United Nations should maintain a standing military outfit to boost its peacekeeping missions is still a huge debate among the member countries. The scenario given, shows the need for an end to debates on whtehr to hav a millitary unit for the United Nations or not.

In this scenario we are faced with a faction leader who is known for his ruthlesness issuing an order for evacuation, the other faction leadaer who does not waant to interfere and a multinational 1000 strong army that does not feel obligated to offer any help to the UN force which has got only 100 personnel in the hot zone and not enough resources to carry out an operation of this magnitude. For the UN to uphold its legitimacy and reputation in general, the idea on whether to have a standing military should be fully addressed.

The Congo mission in particular, saw the UN go there as a peacekeeping force and not a “peace enforcement force”, thus it was not able to use force as the rules of engagement are against this. The use of force is firmly not allowed unless it is in self-defense. If there was a military unit ready to be deployed at anytime by the UN, then maybe its work as a peacekeeping force would be acknowledged and would be considerably easier than the situation on the ground now.

For future peace operations to be successful, past missions have to be carefully and extensively studied. Not all UN peacekeeping missions were success and not all failed. A point in case is the Namibian peace mission, headed by UNTAGS which was a huge success and a learning point for the Security Council. The United Nations peacekeeping in the Congo (1960-1964) is another vital learning lesson on how the failures could be studied and better methods borne out of them.

One of the key factors that led to the failure of the Congo peacekeeping mission was the “rise of different objectives of the precise objectives of the UN mission” (Klinger, 2005). This can also be related to the invasion of Iraq by the U.S. according to Klinger, this kind of reactions are as a result of the insistence “for policymakers, an absolute guarantee of sovereignty can conflict with other international goals of international security of human rights”.

Mission in the long run

The United Nations peace keeping has undergone a great evolution over the years, since the early twenties and grown from peacekeeping to a “forced development of peacekeeping” (Goulding, 2001).

According to Goulding, despite the Congo mission being described as a failure, it somehow succeeded in its objectives even though it served very huge costs- the death of Dag Hammarskjold. With this in mind and relating to the scenario at hand, there is need for a very delicate handling of the mission in the long run. Whether it will be a success or a failure is not known as the situation can detoriarate in an instance due to the dyanmics involved.

The initial mandate of the UN is peacekeeping therefore the use of force should be left as a last resort and will be up to th commander to take this decision since his forces are on the ground and are actually in the hot zone. Both the mandate and the ROE will be needed to analyse the situaion and take the necessary action to ensure a safe passage for the internally dispalced people (Goulding, 2001).

UN relations with the US and major regional arrangements

The UN recently has been negligent in its mandate of maintaining international peace and security recently. There is a constant growing need for peacekeeping operations around the world but the Security Council has toned down its operations and instead tried to cover this up by commissioning regional organizations, such as the African Union in Somalia to promote peace and security. This policy of disengagement has had a particularly adverse effect concerning conflicts in Africa (Taulbee, 2002).

In Africa, despite African peacekeeping forces being present in conflict zones, rebels in Sierra Leone briefly recaptured the capital in the process resulting in thousands of casualties; a bloody coup in the Comoros was witnessed and led to the withdrawal of forces; the same happened in Guinea-Bissau; the only positive observation can be seen from the Democratic Republic of the Congo where a coalition of southern African forces shielding Laurent Kabila have made progress.

The Ethiopian-Eritrean conflict has become unmanageable, with no regional outfit able to resolve the horrific conflict. An observation has been made where these regional organizations contribute to these conflicts (Feldman, 2008). To move forward and gain positive results and solutions to these conflicts, the United Nations Security Council must take responsibility for its actions and must adjust its mode of operation.

The Security Council’s lack of commitment and a huge reliance on regional organizations, is not only observed in Africa alone but all around the world. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, what was initially a UN mandate was taken up with a number of difficulties, by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) (Bellamy & Williams, 2004; Diehl, 1993).

Despite these setbacks, the Security Council should consolidate all the regional organizations and areas they are operating in such as Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) which has peacekeeping forces in Abkhazia, Georgia; NATO has taken over the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, and also is at the forefront in Bosnia and Kosovo; European Union (EU) has deployed military missions to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Macedonia; the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is working with French troops and UN personnel in the Ivory Coast.

There are also instances, where individual states have deployed military peace missions where the UN is not present in areas such as Sierra Leone where Britain has deployed missions, Italy in Albania, South Africa in Burundi, UN and France in Cote d’Ivoire and Australia in the Solomon Islands. An NGO – the Henry Dunant Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue – has even undertaken upon itself the running of an unarmed civilian peace operation in Aceh, Indonesia (Bellamy & Williams, 2004).


The United Nations should not continue with the sub-commissioning of regional organizations to carry out its mandate but consolidate all available resources so as to be able to carry out its peacekeeping mandate.

Another area of consideration, and which constantly generates much heated debate, is whether or not to form a UN military unit to beef up its operations. This is due to situations where the mandate and the rules of engagement compounded with situations on the ground in conflict zones for example the Congo; all create variable dynamics which can either result to be a successful mission or a devastating failure.

For that reason, it strengthens the need for intensification in the scope of the mission of UN Blue Helmets and a creation of a military wing or a ready reserve of troops, who are stationed with their respective countries but are on standby for the UN at any given time.


Bellamy, A & Williams, P, 2004, ‘Conclusion: What Future for Peace Operations? Brahimi and Beyond’, International Peacekeeping, vol. 11, no. 1, pp. 183–212.

Boulden, J 2005, ‘Mandates Matter: An Exploration of Impartiality in United Nations Operations’, Global Governance, vol. 11, pp. 147–160.

Cottey, A, 2008, ‘Beyond humanitarian intervention: the new politics of peacekeeping and intervention,’ Contemporary Politics, vol. 14, no. 4, pp. 429-446.

Diehl, F, 1993, ‘Institutional Alternatives to Traditional U.N. Peacekeeping: An Assessment of Regional and Multinational Options,’ Armed Forces & Society, vol. 19, no. 2, pp. 209-31.

Feldman, R, 2008, ‘Problems Plaguing the African Union Peacekeeping Forces,’ Defense & Security Analysis, vol. 24, no. 3, pp. 267-279.

Goulding, M 1993, ‘The Evolution of United Nations Peackeeping’, International Affairs, vol. 69, no. 3, pp. 451–464.

Horward, L 2002, ‘UN PeaceImplementation in Namibia: The Causes of Sucess’, International Peackeeping, vol. 9, no. 1, pp. 99–132.

Klinger, J, 2005, ‘Stabilization Operations and Nation Building: Lessons from United Nations Peacekeeping in the Congo 1960-1964’, The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs, vol. 29, no. 2, pp. 183–212.

Norberg, H, 2003 ‘Challenges of Peace Operations.’ International Peacekeeping, vol. 10, no. 4, pp.94-103.

Pushkina, D, 2006, ‘A Recipe for Success? Ingredients of a Successful Peacekeeping Mission’, International Peacekeeping, vol. 13, no. 2, pp. 133-49.

Taulbee, L, 2002, ‘The Privatization of Security: Modern Conflict, Globalization and Weak States,’ Civil Wars, vol. 5, no. 2, pp. 1-24.

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"United Nations Peacekeeping operation in Northern Africa." IvyPanda, 6 Mar. 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/united-nations-peacekeeping-operation-in-northern-africa/.

1. IvyPanda. "United Nations Peacekeeping operation in Northern Africa." March 6, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/united-nations-peacekeeping-operation-in-northern-africa/.


IvyPanda. "United Nations Peacekeeping operation in Northern Africa." March 6, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/united-nations-peacekeeping-operation-in-northern-africa/.


IvyPanda. 2019. "United Nations Peacekeeping operation in Northern Africa." March 6, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/united-nations-peacekeeping-operation-in-northern-africa/.


IvyPanda. (2019) 'United Nations Peacekeeping operation in Northern Africa'. 6 March.

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