After the cold war, the United Nations peacekeeping practices have undergone many changes. During the cold war the deployments usually operated under the ideology of unbiased, non-forcible intervention with the permission of the conflicting parties. As a result, the United Nations principles have been under -increased strain with the United Nations performance coming under severe criticism. The United Nations has been seen to act to gain credibility rather than address the needs in the world. For example, the United Nations assisted in fewer activities in the Bosnian war and also over involved itself with Somalia. The concern coming from peacekeeping, which arose from the experience in Somalia, has been under review, favoring new methods that try to find a stronger approach with a greater capacity for peace building (Voeten, 2005).
After the cold war, the first mission unequivocally labeled as a ‚peacekeeping mission was the UN Emergency Force (UNEFI). This mission was sent to the Sinai Peninsula in rejoinder to the 1956 Suez Crisis to foresee the withdrawal of the British and Israeli forces from the Egyptian territory. As the first armed force to the UN, UNEFI was an important example for other UN missions in the future. The first mission also served as a case study for armed and neutral forces working to restrain conflict. The mission was successful in its objectives since it led to establishment of asset of principles, which have served as important guidelines for future missions (Frieden, 2009).
The principles derived were as follows:
• The mission should have assent by the parties to the dispute.
• Avoiding the use of force except for cases of self defense.
• The force should comprise of intentional assistance of contingents from small, non-partisan countries.
• The United Nation should be impartial.
• The peacekeeping operations must be controlled by the Secretary General.
During the Cold War, 13 peacekeeping operations were created. The mission’s one and only function was to keep an eye on borders and establish buffer zones after cease-fires agreements. From late 1980s to 1994, the peacekeeping missions undertaken worldwide dramatically increased. At the commencement of 1988, there were only five operations, which were actively involved in the field, that is three in the Middle East, the Kashmir mission, and the UN Peacekeeping Force located in Cyprus (UNFICYP) (Voeten, 2005).
This noteworthy increase in the number of the peacekeeping operations was accompanied by essential changes in their nature and composition. The single function that was associated with the UN traditional operations evolved into a variety of tasks as the variety of tasks increased, the composition of peacekeeping operations after the cold war became diverse and complex with peacekeepers being drawn from wider varieties of occupation (that is the military, civilian police and diplomats), nations and cultures. Modern peacekeeping can be fittingly characterized as bilateral, multidimensional, global and multicultural. All deployments after 1988 are redefined under new military doctrines, which sought to explain the principles under which they operate. The missions after 1988 are referred to as multidimensional operations due to their wide variety of activities.
As peacekeeping activities, diversified notably in recent past as they strove to adapt to the new tasks and various challenges, the context and environment in which the missions are deployed have also become complex. Even though, various exceptions such as ONUC in DRC Congo and UNIFIL in Lebanon, the peacekeeping operations created before the 1990s operated in permissive environments only where they had the permission and support of host governments (Voeten, 2005).
In the 1990s, various missions’ have been deployed to solve internal wars or provide humanitarian assistance in complex political emergencies. In such situations the UN is forced to work under the conditions of lawlessness and violence, where militias act autonomously. In such cases, the UN agencies are often opposed and confronted by the militia. This occurred as a result of the United Nations principles of neutrality and the unifying role .This failure to stop loss of human life’s greatly affected the credibility of the United Nations with fewer countries willing to work with the United Nations in future, since they were viewed as inferior and could not contain major crisis arising. In the Somalia war the United Nations wanted to restore its lost name hence resulted to massive force. This resulted to loss of the war since the military operation was guided by sinister motives (Frieden, 2009).
The United Nations has been blamed for selective involvement in various wars and only works, when there is a global pressure to see the United Nations prove its might in conflict resolution and peacekeeping. This has further been coupled by damning criticism that the United Nations was an institution being used by the western world to spread neocolonialism. However, the United Nations remains the only organization capable of providing humanitarian aid as well as military activities in the whole world.