Post Cold War

There in the current past, has been the development of the doctrines to ensure that the military involvement in humanitarian assistance was boosted. The United Nations` aim is to avoid failure in protecting civilians as seen in Bosnia and Rwanda and to ensure adequate self-defense measures for peacekeeping forces and the UN staff .The United Nations supporting nations resolved not to send their personnel to missions, where they are inadequately equipped to handle (Voeten, 2005).

There have been substantial changes both in the practice and concept of the United Nation (UN) peacekeeping since the end of the Cold War. Deployment during the cold war, for example, was based on the principles of impartial, non-forcible intervention. There had to be consent from the conflicting parties. There also had to be the precondition of an agreed peace. After the cold war, however, the peace keeping missions have been carried out on the context of internal wars (Sambanis, 2004).

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This change in tactic has subjected the UN’s performance in the latest missions to severe criticism. The big question is why it would do so little in countries like Bosnia and Darfur and so much in other countries. Why is it that some interventions are too little too late, poorly resourced, poorly executed and misconceived like in Somalia, Rwanda and Bosnia?

Although such criticisms have led to an overhaul in the UN peace keeping operations, this section seeks to establish why the UN was involved in some peace keeping operations and not others. Why there were delayed involvement in some peace keeping missions and not  others? It also seeks to point out clearly whether there are limitations as far as the UN military interventions mechanisms are concerned.

The overhaul of the UN’s approach to peace keeping, it has made its structure to allow very little room for effective military intervention. Partly, this is because the UN does not support quick and decisive action. There are always varying institutional structures that do get in the way. The Security Council’s permanent members, for example, can do undermine intervention. In addition to that, intervention is always politically costly, thus the actors, especially the Veto powers, have an incentive to avoid it (Bannon, 2006).

A new lens through which peace keeping is viewed has also been conceived in the condos of the UN’s intervention strategies. This is the concept of called Responsibility to Protect. It asserts that the international community has the obligation to intervene in a state if and only if the state clearly fails to protect its citizens from mass atrocities and also when the peaceful measures are not working (Voeten, 2005).

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The first intervention would be in a diplomatic manner, then more coercively, and as a last resort into using military force. It is within this lens that the UN reacts to any conflict or not. It is a sort of selection bias in terms of cases that have a high number of deaths or that are ethnic or religious. The challenge is: how to determine the exact point, when a state has failed to protect its citizens. This explains why the UN has not reacted towards many conflicts or why it has delayed too many conflicts. This contravenes the concept of the right to intervene. Lastly, the reason why the UN does not respond to other conflicts is inadequacy of troops. The major western economies should consider contributing more troops to the UN peacekeeping missions in such situations (Frieden, 2009).

How Have They Changed After That Period Externally and Internally?

The mandate of peacekeeping shifted dramatically after the cold war. After the cold war the mandates and range of activities for peacekeepers expanded exponentially. The peacekeepers today help promote human rights, build government institutions, set up local police forces, and disarm former combatants. Before then, their role was limited to maintaining ceasefires and stabilizing violence in order to make diplomatic solutions more reachable. The UN peacekeeping shifted dramatically from inter-state conflicts to intra-state conflicts and civil wars in the 1990’s. This is because of the ever present internal struggle for power over territorial control in many of the warring countries (Regan, 2000).

Besides, under the various security systems, when disputes arise between two nations, the concerned parties are required to first seek an amicable solution by peaceful means. This is according to Chapter VI of the UN Charter on peace keeping. The peace is to be sought mainly by squaring off, concession, mediation, peaceful settlement or resort to regional agencies. The 7th chapter of the UN Charter comes into action if the peaceful means fall short and the dispute continues into an armed conflict. This chapter asserts that in the case of a menace to the peace, violation of the peace or an act of belligerence the Security Council may take relevant measures to restore peace. These measures are for all intents and purposes complete or partial economic sanctions, separation of diplomatic relations and arms embargoes (The United Nations Charter, 1945).


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As there are chances that the UN is more likely to send a peacekeeping mission to a smaller and richer country, there are also chances that it is more likely to intervene in a longer and bloodier war. A selection bias would be important, because in all the cases there is public outcry and international pressure for the United Nations to get involved in ending a civil war.

If the UN intervention has no effect on post-conflict recovery and democratization, then the energy, money, and political resources needed to enact a UN peacekeeping mission would be better not spent. 

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