Manual Peacekeeping in South Sudan: One Year of Lessons from Under the Blue Beret

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In an internal UN report, Jetley accused Garba and other senior Nigerians of being more interested in smuggling diamonds than keeping the peace. Such differences of opinion over the role of UN peacekeepers were replicated 12 years later in the Democratic Republic of the Congo as rebels advanced on the eastern town of Goma. The Indian commander of part of the largest peacekeeping force in the world ignored orders from UN officials to defend the town and called the Indian defence ministry in New Delhi to ask what he should do.

He was told not to resist. By then members of the wider UN mission in the DRC had come to look like bystanders to mass killing, rape and terror.

Books Received July – September 2015

Most western nations will not put boots on the ground as frontline peacekeepers and so the UN is dependent on the goodwill of those countries prepared to deploy troops such as India, Bangladesh, Rwanda and Nigeria, making it hard to assert its authority. The UN lost confidence in Jetley in Sierra Leone but when the then secretary general, Kofi Annan, tried to remove him, the Indian government threatened to pull out all of its forces.

Rwanda and Srebrenica prompted a greater emphasis on protection of civilian lives, and involvement in rebuilding failed states instead of negotiating peace treaties, standing back and hoping it all worked out. Gowan pointed to Darfur, where he said the UN intervention came as a politically panicked response to public pressure over the mass killings by the government-allied Janjaweed militia.

We were just under such public pressure to come up with an answer and the answer was peacekeeping. The frank reality is no one believes that the mission is working but no one dares pull it out because they fear the moment it goes there will be an even greater spike in violence and the security council will be held responsible.

Philippe Bolopion, the UN director at Human Rights Watch, said the principal reason for the failure of the Darfur mission, a hybrid operation with African Union forces, was deadlock on the security council. Russia and China have done this by opposing more sanctions against the Sudanese government even when it pushes peacekeepers around in Darfur. The responsibility to protect has had a more positive impact elsewhere.

Peacekeepers in South Sudan turned their bases into de facto refugee camps protecting tens of thousands of people. That would have been unlikely 20 years ago. But the ethos has been severely challenged by the fallout from the security council mandate for military intervention in the Libyan revolution to protect civilians in Benghazi. Russia accused Nato of abusing it to support the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi.

Books Received July – September - Journal of Peace Research - PRIO

That in turn has complicated UN action on Syria. Finding common ground on sub-Saharan Africa has generally been less difficult because of fewer strategic rivalries. The debacle in Goma prompted the UN to put together a fighting force of soldiers prepared to go into combat. South Africa, Tanzania and Malawi volunteered to send troops to join the Force Intervention Brigade in part because they were weary of the persistent instability in the region.

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That was a low moment for everybody. You have some very far-reaching language in the mandate about targeted offensive operations. Neutralising armed groups, preventing their expansion, disarming them. The drones are not armed although that appears the next likely step, if not in the DRC then in some other conflict where the UN is involved, given their increasing use in the Middle East by the US and its allies. The intervention brigade has been successful in changing the dynamic in eastern Congo by pushing back the rebels and providing a degree of stability to begin the reconstruction of functioning systems of government, such as the courts — although regional politics has played a large part too.

But the operation has also deeply alarmed countries such as India, which fears it sets an example for the future of peacekeeping.

Peacekeeping in South Sudan: One Year of Lessons from Under the Blue Beret

Christofides doubts that the force intervention brigade provides a model for other peacekeeping missions. Senior UN officials, some of whom were strongly opposed to the creation of the brigade but now judge it a success, are deeply wary of the UN taking on a similar role in other conflicts. The DRC, they say, was a unique situation.

But even if the force intervention brigade is not replicated, it fits with a wider agenda by the major western powers to remake UN peacekeeping as a partner in military campaigns. For them, the lesson of British intervention in Sierra Leone or the recent French deployments in Mali and Central African Republic against armed Islamist groups is that better trained and equipped forces launch the initial assault and then the UN comes in as backup.

But for that to happen, UN peacekeeping has to up its game. Obama is leading the push with his New York summit on 28 September to seek pledges of troops, equipment and intelligence resources to a revamped peacekeeping operation. Moreover, if other countries are sending their forces then the US does not have to risk the lives of American soldiers. Previously, the US mostly regarded peacekeeping in Africa, in particular, as a humanitarian issue. Now, given the nature of the conflicts in Mali, Nigeria and Central African Republic, Washington views it as strategic. But while the US wants more assertive peacekeeping, it does not want to send its soldiers to fight.

Obama is pressing more developed countries, in Europe, Asia and Latin America, to make greater commitments in the hope of improving the quality of UN forces.

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So is Ban. Congress would never stand for it. But Washington is joining the UN in pressing other developed countries to play a bigger part in peacekeeping. The UK currently has fewer than soldiers deployed on peacekeeping missions, mostly in Cyprus. The UK is expected to announce a contingent of peacekeepers for South Sudan at the New York summit, but numbers are not known.

Richards wants to see Britain make a greater contribution. Richards said countries whose forces had experience in Afghanistan and Iraq could put that to good use in UN operations.

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  8. India strongly opposes a move towards more forceful peacekeeping. The end is political stability and peacekeeping is just a tool to bring about political stability. Gowan is sceptical for different reasons. Facebook Twitter Pinterest.

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    Rwanda Srebrenica massacre news. Reuse this content. Order by newest oldest recommendations. United Nations UN peacekeepers from nations were recognised today, and tributes were paid to more than 3, personnel from those countries who have died while serving as UN peacekeepers. We have played a leading role in this area but I am determined that we do more, by sharing crucial training and expertise to help those facing these terrible crimes. As we celebrate the 70th anniversary of UN peacekeeping I pay tribute to invaluable contribution made by our forces who have served for the United Nations and their country in peacekeeping roles across the globe.

    And I am immensely proud that the UK has nearly British troops wearing the blue beret right now in South Sudan, Cyprus, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali and Libya, protecting communities from the violence and terror of warfare.


    The United Kingdom has a commendable track record on UN peacekeeping: financially, historically and through its renewed commitments in Somalia and South Sudan. The International Day of UN Peacekeepers was first observed in to recognise and appreciate the efforts and sacrifice of UN peacekeepers.

    The Cenotaph commemoration is believed to be one of the largest worldwide where the Band of the Irish Guards performed at the wreath-laying at the Cenotaph.

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    The commemoration, and a related conference on the challenges of modern peacekeeping, was held in conjunction with the High Commission of Canada and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. As we mark 70 years of UN Peacekeeping, it is right that we pause — and reflect on — the many lives saved, and on the regions and countries stabilised.

    Millions of people, living in some of the most challenging places on earth, have been given hope and opportunity. This is the proud legacy of the toil and sacrifice of hundreds of thousands of men and women who have put their lives at risk to protect the most vulnerable. On this UN Peacekeeper Day, we recognise the dedication and efforts of all UN Peacekeepers, and, remember those that have sacrificed their lives for the cause of international peace and security.

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