The Effectiveness of Peace Keeping: Yugoslavia and Cambodia
- Pages: 21
- Word count: 5095
- Category: Peace
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The United Nations peace keeping mission is a broard phenomenon that encompasses a number of peace keeping activities. When the UN started involving in peace keeping activities, the operations were mainly centered around putting UN forces on international borders or cease fire lines with the intention of keeping apart parties in conflict by positioning UN military observers or soldiers to play the role of third parties. The whole idea behind this is to bring about a halt in hostilities, calm down tension, create the necessary atmosphere required for negotiations so that a lasting solution to conflicts may be arrived at.
However, over time, there have new developments that have pushed forward the scope of UN peace keeping activities. These developments came with the end of the Cold War and the relative success in the Gulf War during the early 1990s. These developments produced a new world order in terms of international politics and this new order was spearheaded by the western powers led by the USA. This further broadened the role the UN have to play in maintaining peace and stability, especially as peace was now regarded in terms of sustainability and quantity. Moreover, the fact that most of the conflicts are fought by paramilitary groups and not the national armies, have made civilians the victims. It is this situation that has drawn the attention of the international community to look in to the matter.
Thus recent developments like these have made UN peace keeping missions to have a wider range of activities to handle, of which failure in any of these activities could mean failure in the peace keeping operation. Some of these activities include disarmament, demobilization of troops and armed paramilitary groups, promotion of national reconciliation, restoration of effective governments, organization and monitoring of elections, provision of support for humanitarian aid mission, escort of relief convoys and the protection of safe areas. This essay will look at two countries where UN peace keeping missions have been operational with emphasis on whether the missions were successful or not and the reasons for the success or failure. The impact created by the outcome of these operations will also be taken into consideration. The study will concentrate on the UN peace keeping mission in the 1990s. The two countries that will be discussed in this paper will be the former Yugoslavia and Cambodia.
UN PEACE KEEPING IN FORMER YUGOSLAVIA
The Yugoslavian conflict is one of those conflicts around the world where the UN embarked on a peace keeping mission to help restore order in the country. The country situated in the Balkans and over 500 years, different European powers including Turkey have greatly influenced the political developments taking place in the region. However, the potential posed by a united Yugoslavia in the eyes of other European powers and the USA became crucial in the outbreak of conflict in the country. During the years 1991-1992, there was tension in the country due to secessionist tendencies that had developed over years. As a result, the European community got involved in the matter with the hope of at least finding a temporal solution. In the process, the Badinter Commission was established to study the newly emerging states if they were viable for independence by European community standards. Some of the working guide lines for this commission included provisions for the protection of the rights of minority groups.
The commission’s report ruled that Slovenia with a large population of Slovenes was viable for independence while Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia were ruled out. In spite this, coupled with long standing German pressure, the USA and the European community went ahead to declare their recognition for Croatia and Bosnia Herzegovina. It was this incident that pushed the country in to chaos. In this respect, the European community as it was known at the time and the USA hold the blame for the immediate cause of hostilities in that region during that period. With the Yugoslavia in chaos, European governments and USA blamed Serbia for obstructing peace throughout the region. It was this situation that drew the attention of UN Security Council to hold that Serbia has something to do with the Croatia. This was through the UN Security Council resolution setting up UNPROFOR which amongst other things held “the United Nations troops and police would be deployed in certain areas of Croatia, designated as United Nations Protected Areas (UNPAs); the UNPAs would be areas in which the Secretary-General judged that special arrangements were required during an interim period … they would be areas in which Serbs constitute the majority or a substantial minority of the population …”. The UN peace keeping operation in this case ran short of many aspects.
One aspect that has received a lot of criticisms in the UN peace keeping mission in the former Yugoslavia has been the period when the operation was launched. The UN peace keeping mission in Yugoslavia arrived some months after conflict erupted in the country. A mission of that nature needed some time for preparations to be carried out. As soon as conflict erupted, the UN organized a preliminary round of negotiations with the military leaderships of the parties involved in the conflict. These negotiations were chaired by Cyrus Vanoe, a senior staff of the UN Secretariat. Even before Vanoe submitted his report there were indications that there have been a number of significant issues where differences in their interpretation were already prevailing. A situation like this meant things were going to be difficult because differences that could not be settled on table could only be settled at the war front. But this situation was ignored with the hope that they may disappear while the peace keepers were carrying out their mission. The UN Secretary General even went further to declare that there were serious possibilities that the mission would fail and this was based on certain aspects amongst them lack of cooperation from parties.
Also, the manner in which the UNPROFOR was designed for the mission in former Yugoslavia was not suitable for an operation of that caliber. Designed as traditional forces, it became clear from the beginning that none of the parties, that is the Croatian or the Karijna Serbs desired to cooperate with the UN forces. For instance, the UN protected Areas were never demilitarized as demanded, the cease fire organized never achieved its full meaning, many people stayed displaced and lawlessness became the order of the day. Instead the UNPAs instead helped to create more confusion in the region as these so called protected areas were now serving as roots for armed incursions in to Bosnia. The Krajina Serbs saw UNPROFOR, as a force that could help speed up their own independence, while Croatia saw the UN presence as an a chance to mobilize and forcefully take over these UNPAs. It is therefore not surprising that in 1995, Croatia seized three of the four UNPAs and by mid 1995 Croatia taken control of the UNPA Sector to its west.
Another area where the peace keeping mission in Yugoslavia had loop holes was the lack of consideration for the developments that had taken place during the period when the Vanoe plan was approved in 1991 to the period in February1992, when Secretary General’s report setting up the peace keeping mission came to being. This again was the result of the quick deployment of UN peace keepers in the country. These developments had greatly altered some basic features of the Vanoe plan yet no considerations were given to modify the original plan so that it suits the new realities. For instance, the peace keeping mission head quarters had no one on its staff that was present during negotiations, therefore there was nobody who knew the positions taken by the belligerents in the peace keeping mission office. This was a serious setback back to the peace keeping process because at the initial stages the UNPROFOR hierarchy found it difficult to interpret and respond correctly the positions the parties had taken. A situation like this meant the peace keeping process was going to be complex. For instance Serbian boundaries had been altered comparing to what was in the Vanoe Plan and even extended beyond the boundaries of municipalities.
Moreover, the fact that Serb boundaries had changed beyond what was in the Vanoe made it difficult for the peace keeping mission to succeed. These areas were now contentious areas especially during the period when the UNPROFOR was trying to deal with the parties involved I the conflict. The reason for this is that as the war progressed some of these areas were given the status of pink zone under Serbian control. Croatia did not welcome this move and the reason for this is that Croatia and Slovenia had just been recognized as independent state by the European Community and the USA. This aspect of recognition gave sovereignty to the Croatian borders especially in the eyes of Croats.
It was on these bases that Croatian authorities stood on the point that the Krajina Serbs had no base and therefore urge UN peacekeepers not to deal with them. Although the Serbs had a point, their position clashed with the Vanoe Plan which held that an interim agreement will guide the deployment of forces in areas considered as UN protected areas until a final resolution is taken at the European Community summit on Yugoslavia. All these difficult came as a result of lack of sufficient preparation for the mission and the fact there was no representative of the peacekeeping force commanders during the early stages of negotiations.
Another area of difficulty in the UN peace keeping mission in Yugoslavia came as a result f the out break of civil war in Bosnia Herzegovina. This civil war was nothing but an additional task for the UNPROFOR to handle and this was later term “mission creep”. This new development pushed the UN Security Council to extend its commitment to the region between June and December 1992. Among these commitments were deployment in Bosnia-Herzegovina for escort of humanitarian aid convoys; monitoring of demilitarization of the Prevlaka peninsula; deployment of observers at airfields and monitoring of the “no-fly zone” over Bosnia-Herzegovina, control of the Peruca dam; and preventive deployment in Macedonia.
In fact this situation was a massive blow on the peace keeping mission. First the resources that were needed for this operation were not available or were only available when the situation they were meant to deal with had completely changed. In other words most of the resolutions for this mission remained on paper in what was considered as well drafted resolutions. In addition when the civil war erupted in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the UNPROFOR was still struggling to set up for the mission in Croatia. Moreover, during the early period of conflict in Bosnia Herzegovina, the UNPROFOR had not been given authority to carryout peace keeping mission in the country. With this kind of complications, the peace keeping mission in former Yugoslavia was bound to be in real difficulties.
As UNPROFOR operations progressed, it soon became evident that shared responsibility between the United Nations and the European Community was an unsatisfactory arrangement, to put it very mildly. UNPROFOR’s experience showed that when situations emerged where positive results appeared likely, the European Community came on the scene in the hope of drawing credit, but the moment things went wrong, UNPROFOR was left to pick up the pieces; an art the force gradually came to master, in so far as weathering the flak directed at it was concerned.
In due course, with the rather dubious arrangements that were put in place for Bosnia-Herzegovina, it was inevitable that copies of reports, analyses, and recommendations emanating from UNPROFOR headquarters began finding their way to Brussels, some national capitals, and the office of the European Community negotiator. The irritating and unacceptable part of this development was that, using such information, attempts were made to arrive at arrangements with the belligerents without consulting UNPROFOR; in most cases with disastrous results.
The demise of the UN forces in former Yugoslavia came in May 1995 when Bosnian Serbs retaliated with a series of air strikes in response to the bombing of about half a dozen bunkers where they stored their ammunition. This disaster pushed world leaders to the conclusion that the situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina could not be managed through ordinary peace keeping. This understanding sealed the faith of UNPROFOR. As a result, the UNPROFOR was immediately withdrawn from the region.
Regrettably, the operations in the former Yugoslavia have been characterized by a degree of symbolism, rhetoric, and hypocrisy for which a heavy price has been paid in terms of human lives and suffering as both the UN troops and the local population bore most of the effects. As armed traditional groups sent to areas covered by ethnic conflicts, UN forces became subject to manipulation by disputing parties. For example the Bosnian Serbs in one occasion and under the cover of peace keeping concept to some 370 UN peace keepers hostage and were to be used as human shields. In addition, the UNPROFOR forces never succeeded to prevent the Bosnia Serbs from committing ethnic cleansing and genocide which had become so prevalent during this period. All these bring one to the conclusion that the UN peace keeping mission in Yugoslavia was in the end a failure.
Although the UN peace keeping mission in Cambodia only took off in 1992, the country had been in turbulence ever since the 1970s. Cambodia from 1975 to 1979 was ruled by the Khmer Rouge with Pol Pot as their leader. This Maoist totalitarian regime was notorious for killing Cambodians. During the period 1975 to 1979, it has been estimated that about one million people lost their lives. In 1979, Khmer Rouge brought the country in to turmoil following its incursions in to Vietnam. These Khmer Rouge incursions pushed Vietnam to invade Cambodia, chase the Khmer Rouge up the Mountain ranges to the west of the country. Vietnam then installed a puppet communist government under the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP).
The Vietnamese invasion in Cambodia pushed the region in to confusion as the CCP proved not any better than the Khmer Rouge. The CCP got involved in a series of atrocities that caused thousands of Cambodians to flee the country for safe. As a result Thailand which was appeared to be the main destination for those fleeing Cambodians felt threaten. China felt also felt uncomfortable with Vietnam’s control of Cambodia. Moreover, only the soviet bloc recognized the CCP government in Vietnam. This non-recognition of the CCP government pushed the Khmer Rouge in to an alliance with some non-communist parties in Cambodia, the royalist FUNCINPEC party, led by Prince Norodom Sihanouk, and the Kampuchean National Liberation Front (KPNLF). The move paid off when the alliance managed to secure a seat at the UN in 1982. All these helped to instill an atmosphere of violence in Cambodia and it was this situation that attracted the attention of the UN. In retaliation to these developments, the UN sponsored a conference in Paris in with the aim to seek a solution to the Cambodian conflict. The outcome was the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC).
SUCCESSES AND FAILURES Of UNTAC
UNTAC effectively too up functions in Cambodia in 1992 and this was considered to be a part of the Paris Agreement. UNTAC was deployed in 1992 as part of the 1991 Paris Agreements. From the very beginning, UNTAC had a difficult mission to accomplish in Cambodia. Some of UNTAC’s duties included overseeing a cease-fire among the parties involved, conduct national elections, ensure proper conditions for the repatriation of refugees and more importantly to see in to it that the power of Cambodian government was used in a fair manner before and during the elections. To accomplish this task, 1.6 billion SU dollars and a 22.000 man expanded peace keeping force was deployed from March 1992 to September 1993.
UNTAC involvement in Cambodia was successful in certain aspect especially repatriating Cambodian refugees, it rebuilt infrastructure and conducted a national election. The organization of national election was perhaps UNTAC’s most successful achievement in Cambodia. UNTAC was outstanding in its efforts to achieve a massive registration of candidates specifically through its massive and nationwide voters registration project. UNTAC even went further to destabilize CPP effort to kill opposing CPP parliamentary candidates. These were mainly candidates from the FUNCINPEC party, of Prince Norodom Sihanouk. The election remains a legacy to Cambodian people and their long standing aspiration to have a democratic state. During the election, more than 90% of the legible voters cued up to choose their leaders is spite prospect of possible attacks from the Khmer Rouge and the CPP.
These elections were won by FUNCINPEC but the CPP remained adamant and even threaten to throw the country in to a civil war if a share of power was not handed over. This CPP position was looked in to by the international community under the auspices of the USA. They up with the view that rather than let the country to chaos it would be better to put pressure on the FUNCINPEC, who accepted to form a coalition government with the CPP. The CPP was then given the post of second prime minister while the FUNCINPEC kept the post of first prime minister. However, success was not in all aspects.
One of UNTAC’s very crucial missions to Cambodia was never really achieved. UNTAC found it very difficult to compel parties to fully abide by the provisions of the cease-fire agreement. For instance, the Khmer Rouge was never disarmed, and even refused to allow UN forces access in to the areas they controlled. The CCP was also not completely disarmed. The CCP even refused to cooperate with the UN to see in to it that there was neutrality in the Cambodian government with regards to bureaucracy during and after the elections that were to be organized. The reason for this was partly because UNTAC, as a light armed keeping force, just like the case of UNPROFOR in former Yugoslavia, did not have what it required that the authority nor the armaments that could help push the warring factions to accept the rules of the mandate. The result was that UNTAC’s accomplishments began to fade out soon after it withdrew. Today fraud and corruption and repression remain an integral part of life in Cambodia.
Another area where UNTAC remained lacking in the Cambodian operation was in it inability to supervise the government of Cambodia especially in 1992 when it looked like the government could cooperate with the UN. This was sad because when UNTAC became ready to take up this challenge, the CPP was no longer ready to cooperate. In spite this UNTAC was still able to investigate the CCP in early 1993 with the result that a confirmation was issued holding the CPP responsible for using the government bureaucracy to instill violence against the opposition and frighten the electorate. In fact the CPP violence became so open in 1993 to the extent that the FUNCINPEC threatened to stop it cooperation with UNTAC.
In addition, in early 1994, UNTAC left Cambodia and their departure was a proof of how short-lived their successes were in the country. For instance, the inability of UNTAC’s to completely disarm the Khmer Rouge and the CPP remained an indication that the withdrawal of UN peace keeping could likely coincide with the eruption of violence in the country. In addition, in the period leading to the elections, the UN did not dislodge personnel of the civil administration and this had serious repercussions. Most of the personnel refused to relinquish their positions after the election after their party lost the elections. Some simply refused to pay allegiance to Prince Ranariddh who became the first Prime Minister. The CPP later used the coalition to build its political power, isolate FUNCINPEC, and recruit Khmer Rouge members and leaders. The CPP staged a violent coup in July 1997 that drove Ranariddh out of the country and killed his top aides. This action spurred the New York Times to sharply condemn the Clinton administration’s Cambodia policy in a July 10, 1997 editorial.
From the conceptual point of view, the UNTAC expedition to Cambodia was even far more lacking. To be gin with, the mission placed heavy reliance on the understanding that they would have high level cooperation with the parties involved in the conflict. This notion was derived based on the idea that warring factions usually cooperated with peace keeping missions judging from earlier traditions. The mission completely ignored the fact that various regions have their peculiarities therefore one cannot completely rely on the experiences of one situation to solve another. This partly explains the point that while UNTAC believed that warring parties would comply, the CPP had a completely different perspective of the matter. Instead the CPP never had any intention to give up power an in the process all the CPP did was to frustrate UNTAC’s efforts. The Khmer Rouge apparently had no intention of fully cooperating with UNTAC and this partly explains why it did not participate in the in national elections.
Whatever the case, UNTAC has to earn some credits for the way it managed this particular situation. The point is that UNTAC took to honor a very crucial and traditional rule of peace keeping which hold that peace keepers must avoid the use of force if parties refuse to respect peace agreements and UNTAC did just that. The decision to stay calm prevented the excesses of Khmer Rouge from transforming in to violence thereby putting UNTAC in the same position as the other Cambodian combatants. This decision helped to limit the number casualties on the side of the peacekeeping forces. UNTAC also had the foresight to limit the role of certain peacekeeping troops, especially Americans and Japanese that might provoke warring parties. The 49 American soldiers who served in UNTAC were limited to observer roles in secure areas. Japan’s 605 troops were restricted to observer mission in peaceful areas and building roads.
Another conceptual problem faced by UNTAC and which appeared to be very crucial was the purpose for the mission. It was not really clear whether UNTAC’s mission to Cambodia was simply to facilitate peace, conduct national elections, and promptly withdraw or the other hand whether the mission had a responsibility to maintain a longer-term presence and see through Cambodia’s transition to democracy. This issue was never properly looked in to by the UNTAC policy makers. These policy makers underestimated the mission and therefore they fully took to the consideration that election will be smooth and the parties will fully cooperate. In addition UN officials likewise those of President Clinton never hesitated when it came to rapid withdrawal no considerations were given for the manner or strategy for exit. In a similar manner UNTAC also relied heavily on the influence of outsiders like China, the United States, France, Thailand, and Indonesia. However this move proved to be a mixed blessing especially as outside power played a distinctive role in bringing those in dispute to the negotiating table. It became clear that if pressure was increased on the CPP, Russia was Russia would react.
UNTAC’s abrupt withdrawal in late 1993 was influenced by the Clinton administration, which knew that the force was collapsing and viewed the possible failure of such a large and expensive peacekeeping mission as a public relations disaster that would doom its ambitious UN-based foreign policy. Therefore, elections were held despite the fact that UNTAC had not met most of its mandate. It was then quickly withdrawn to give the UN and the United States the opportunity to declare victory before chaos returned. This was an unfortunate policy decision, since there was a chance that if UNTAC remained through 1994 it might have been able to finish what it started and increased the prospects for democratic government. This was a mistake Clinton officials tried not to make several years later when they helped design what are essentially occupation forces to address civil and ethnic crises in Bosnia, Kosovo, and East Timor. Administrative and chain of command problems also plagued UNTAC, undermining its effectiveness and reputation. UNTAC was the most expensive and most ambitious operation the UN ever attempted. It had no coherent plan to manage such a large undertaking.
The UN peace keeping mission in Cambodia also suffered a series of command problems even though these did not result to any incidents. The reason for no casualties in spite this deficiency was because of the decision by warring factions to avoid confrontations with UN peace keepers. However, French and Dutch troops in certain occasions went beyond their instructions and used force against the Khmer Rouge while France on many occasion refused to deploy its forces as instructed by UNTAC. All these came as a result of the chain of command problems UNTAC suffered in the course of the mission.
Finally, criminal activity by UNTAC troops, especially black marketeering and prostitution, tinted UNTAC and the UN’s reputation in the eyes of the international community. UNTAC troops who had been patronizing prostitutes introduced AIDS to remote areas of Cambodia. Some UNTAC troops operated brothels and gambling halls. In conclusion, UNTAC did better than some expanded peacekeeping missions. It brought peace to Cambodia for a time, helped refugees and displaced persons return, and created more stable conditions that saved lives. The major mistake made by UNTAC planners was underestimating the task at hand. If UNTAC planners had a better conception of the political situation in Cambodia and a more realistic view of how to build democracy, this $1 billion–plus expanded peacekeeping effort might have left a fledgling democracy in its place instead of a corrupt autocracy that stays in power by terrorizing the population and its political opponents. 
Cambodia in recent times has been credited for being more peaceful than was the case before the intervention of the UN in 1992. Prince Ranariddh, the former first Prime Minister of the CPP/FUNCINPEC coalition who was overthrown in a military coup agreed to return to the country and countryside disorder is said to have reduced tremendously. However, behind the curtains Cambodian politics remain the same as the CCP leader Hun Sen remains a tyrant and his party dominates almost all aspects of politics in the country. This is because the party remains relatively united in comparison with the other parties. Moreover, the CPP is ready to take what ever major it takes to keep the FUNCINPEC its principal opponent under control. In the same direction, FUNCINPEC has lost much of the strength and influence it once enjoyed during the 1990s as a result of internal fighting.
However, the biggest factor that undermined FUNCINPEC was the implosion of the Khmer Rouge, which had been functioning as its military arm. Without the Khmer Rouge military threat, FUNCINPEC was much easier for the CPP to push around. The present situation is not what was expected by the international community when it took to get involved in the conflict. However, it remains evident that the strategy employed by the CPP in the late 1990s has been remained attached to the fact that the Clinton administration did not deal with certain CPP mischief that would have helped to justify the success UNTAC operations in Cambodia.
In 1998, the first national elections were held since UNTAC’s withdrawal. The elections, in which the CPP won, were conducted entirely by CPP personnel and were widely condemned in the Western media. Former UNTAC Commander John Sanderson and Michael Maley, an UNTAC official who helped organize the 1993 elections, contended in a damning article that the 1998 elections were not free and fair and that Cambodia is essentially an authoritarian state where the fate of the country remains in the hands of the CCP.
It has been a difficult task to describe this week’s military ouster of Cambodia’s First Prime Minister, Norodom Ranariddh, by his coalition partner and longtime rival, Second Prime Minister Hun Sen. Simply calling it a coup would bring an automatic suspension of American aid to the country. The Clinton Administration feared such instant disengagement would reduce rather than increase United States leverage. Whatever the case the seizure of power by Mr. Hun Sen’s bloody coup is has proved to be a huge set back to democracy and a violation of the 1991 Paris agreement that ended the Cambodian civil war. Most of all, it is a disaster for Cambodia.
From the above one realizes that the UN peace keeping mission in former Yugoslavia was a failure in many aspects. Comparing this to the Cambodian case it becomes evident that there was some degree of success considering that the mission in Cambodia at least succeeded to organize elections and install a democratic government before leaving the country.
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