The Traditional Forms of Peacekeeping

Conflicts seem to occur anywhere and anytime, at both regional and inter-state levels. Whenever these issues are not resolved suitably, they tend to become prolonged struggles. These conflicts naturally affect security and development in international society as a whole. Peacekeeping operations are widely considered to be the most suitable method for maintaining peace in the international community and providing directions, as well as stabilising and promoting a more peaceful world in the long-term (Malone and Wermester, 2001: 37). According to the former UN secretary general Kofi Annan (Moore and Pubantz, 2008: 113), peacekeeping operations can be defined as ‘a preventive function that intends to avert the outbreak or recurrence of conflict, their preventive role has been particularly clear where they have been deployed before the beginning of an armed internal or international conflict…’. Most peacekeeping operations are prescribed actions administered and directed by the United Nations (UN) as an intergovernmental institution. UN peacekeeping missions must therefore be supported through the consensus of the international community; the UN Security Council is responsible for any authority under UN Charter.

Traditional peacekeeping operations developed during the minor conflicts around the globe of the Cold War. Despite criticism from some scholars have challenged traditional forms of peacekeeping as old-fashioned, this essay will argue that there is still a place for it in contemporary international affairs. The effectiveness of the traditional principles –consent, impartiality and minimum use of force has remained broadly valid in UN peacekeeping missions. Specifically, traditional peacekeeping has been transformed from the pattern of the first generation, to its second generation from the end of the Cold War, in order to operate its missions more effectively, and efficiently. This essay is organized as follows: the first section defines and presents the primary elements of traditional peacekeeping. The second section explains why the concept of traditional peacekeeping has remained in the practical realm of world politics, and how it has been adopted by its supporters. Two case studies will be considered: the UN’s traditional peacekeeping operation in Cyprus (UNFICYP) following the Second World War, and the continuation of peacekeeping missions and tactics in the 21st century: the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE), Section three clarifies the evolution from traditional to new peacekeeping. Section four will analyse some of the problems of traditional peacekeeping, while section five examines a possible tendency of traditional peacekeeping in the future deployments to troubled zones. Finally, the essay ends with conclusion of the overall discussion.

The term ‘traditional peacekeeping’ is still somewhat ambiguous; nevertheless, it is broadly accepted that the fundamental principles of traditional peacekeeping involves the so-called ‘holy trinity’. The principle of this holy trinity consists of consent, impartiality, and the minimum use of force. Firstly, the parties' continuing consent is an important principle of traditional peacekeeping. Peacekeeping forces must have the consent of host country that is the government or ruling parties, if not a recognised government. Secondly, peacekeepers should be impartial among the hostile parties. Peacekeepers are deployed solely to control, or resolve the conflict. They must not suggest the interests of one party against those of the other, nor must they take any side in the conflict (Goulding, 1993: 454). Failure to follow these brief, but strict, principles would diminish the credibility of any peacekeeping operation. Finally, the UN’s principles for peacekeeping, at least, should not require the use of force, or the threat of force (Finlay, 2002: 17). Military forces and observers carry very light, defensive weapons. They have the right to use force in the case of self-defense, when faced with an emergency situation, or to help end hostilities (Tharoor, 1995: 56). Such guarantees ensure, for the host countries, that forces are deployed for the purpose of the protection innocent civilians, and the reduction of conflicts.

The United Nations under Article 42 (UN 1990: 4) defines traditional peacekeeping as follows:

Operation involved with ‘military personnel, but without enforcement help maintain or restore international peace and security in areas of conflict. These operations are voluntary and are based on consent and co-operation...they achieve their objectives not by force of arms, thus contrasting them with the ‘enforcement action’

The form of traditional peacekeeping is stated, with the provision of long-term conflict resolution between the parties themselves. The primary roles of peacekeepers are enacted by members of a third-party: mediators or conciliators (Diehl et al. 1998: 35-7). These international third-party members perform an interposition function, acting in non-coercive, consent-based activities, and helping to establish strong support for the peace process, and preventing endless hostility. Third-party officials begin their implementation of these measures in the initial stage of a ceasefire, and political settlement between the belligerents, by creating an atmosphere of confidence under which a process of political dialogue may commence (Tharoor, 1995: 56).

The bulk of traditional peacekeeping operations have been led by UN, although other powerful states and international institutions have played a similar role. The UN plays an important part in terms of its third-party mediation by its deployment of multinational troops, police, and civilian personnel, and its stipulations for peaceful negotiation between those parties involved (Hill and Malik, 1996: 10). Traditional UN peacekeeping operations are carried out under the terms outlined in UN chapter VI, which requires the ‘pacific settlement of disputes’ (Matheson, 2006: 100). The first UN peacekeeping operation was the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) (Malone and Wermester, 2006: 38). This operation had been performed with unarmed military observers who were deployed to Jerusalem in 1948 during the first war between Israel and the Arab nations (Goulding, 1993: 452). The origins of traditional peacekeeping; however, begin with the initiative of the UN Emergency Force (UNEF I), which was the first practical traditional peacekeeping mission (Donald, 2003: 421). UNEF I took place in 1956 in order to restrain the Anglo-French-Israeli attack on Egypt. It was presented on the efforts of Dag Hammarskjold, who created the concept of preventive diplomacy. This diplomatic approach demonstrates ‘an image of UN as the neutral third party’ in attempting to prevent any hostility (Bellamy et al. 2010: 173).

Although traditional peacekeeping operations have gradually declined since the end of the Cold War, it continues to be of relevance in the current global state. This is particularly apparent when it is remembered that the longest-running peacekeeping mission to date, which began has begun during the Cold War – the UNFICYP, and another operation which was only concluded in 2001 – the UNMEE, both required a lengthy and involved peacekeeping operation. The United Nations for peacekeeping in Cyprus (UNFICYP) required the traditional form of peacekeeping from its outbreak in Cyprus during the Cold War until the present. Cyprus’s long conflict began in late 1963, when Archbishop Makarios, the president of Cyprus, proposed 13 constitutional amendments that might affect the special protected status of the Turkish Cypriot (Birgisson, 1994: 220-1). This problem led to a breakdown in negotiations in 1964. As a result, UNFICYP was set up that year through resolution 186 by the Security Council to prevent further fighting between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities on the island, and to maintain peace and stability within Cyprus (Sambanis, 1999: 86). UNFICYP can be considered to be a traditional peacekeeping operation because its implementation strongly emphasises the principles within the UN’s holy trinity. UN peacekeeping troops were posted to the island with the consent from Cypriot government. They were authorised to use force if necessary, but this force must be used only to maintain a balance in the political circumstances in Cyprus. UNFICYP mission provided humanitarian aid with impartiality; they helped both Greek Cypriots, as well as a small Maronite community living in the southern part of the island, and Turkish Cypriots living in the northern part of the island. The humanitarian function consisted of the electrical and water supply across the lines of conflict (Bellamy et al, 2010: 183). Their presence in the buffer zone allowed civilians to go about their daily lives, even though this area was still under permanent watch by the military on both sides (Macqueen, 2006: 93). Another example of traditional peacekeeping in this conflict can also be seen with the UNFICYP peacekeepers upholding a ceasefire agreement. They succeeded to negotiate the ceasefire lines between both the Greek and Turkish Cypriot borders over 180 kilometres across the island. UNFICYP troops have maintained a buffer zone between the Turkish Cypriot forces in the north and the Greek Cypriot forces in the south. The border line, the so-called Green Line, emerged when Turkey occupied the north of the island on 20 July 1974. Thirty-six per cent of the island was therefore under Turkish occupation by the time UN peacekeepers intervened (Ker-Lindsay, 2006: 413). On 14th December 2010, Greek Cypriot leader Demitris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu agreed to increase the momentum of the negotiations in Geneva. UN Security Council members supported this cooperation. They also had the consensus of the UN members to extend the mandate of UNFICYP until 15 June 2011 (UNFICYP, 2010). The UNFICYP operation therefore illustrates the success and continuing relevance of traditional peacekeeping.

The second case study is the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE). It is currently the latest example of traditional peacekeeping. The role of UN peacekeepers remains as significant now as it was during the Cold War. The conflict between Eritrea and Ethiopia arose from unresolved territorial issues between them in May 1998. The Secretary-General immediately contacted the leaders of both countries in the hope they would accept the conditions of assistance in resolving the conflict peacefully. Despite these effort, conflict between the two countries erupted again in 2002. UN Security Council is concerned this unstable situation will adversely affect peoples’ lives on both sides of the border. It urgently requested both countries to cease hostilities immediately, and to return to the process of negotiation (UNMEE News 2008: 2). Having accepted both the internal and external measures, the two parties consented to the requirement of UN peacekeepers to act as a third-party. UNMEE troops performed the role of an impartial mediator for both Ethiopia and Eritrea in order to ensure a peaceful atmosphere. They supported an agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities between Ethiopia and Eritrea in 2002, again by not favouring one party over another (Bellamy et al, 2010: 187). The aims of this agreement requested that the two countries reduce the number of soldiers and the removal of forces from their conflict border. In March 2000, UN peacekeepers also provided humanitarian aid for both Eritreans and Ethiopians suffering from war and a drought. The UNMEE operation created favourable conditions for both parties. The vindication of their success was a final and comprehensive peace settlement of the conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea, agreed upon on 12 December 2002. This success would maintain peace and security both in these countries and hopefully the entire region. The speech by Secretary general Kofi Annan (2002) highlighted the success of this form of traditional peacekeeping. He declared that "victory for the voice of reason, for the power of diplomacy and for the recognition that neither one of those countries -- nor the continent as a whole -- can afford another decade, another year, another day of conflict". Once more, traditional peacekeeping has performed an outstanding role in establishing peace in a region of conflict.

Despite these successes; however, the role of traditional peacekeeping has been challenged recently, due to dramatic political changes, and the more complex environment which appeared the post-Cold War era. It can be seen that the number of UN peacekeeping missions increased significantly as a result of the changing global security environment: globalisation, the origin of newly independent states following the collapse of the Soviet Union, and particularly the challenge of civil wars in many parts of the world. Peacekeepers have also encountered fragile elements within zones of conflict, such as ‘ethnic, religious and territorial disputes and from poverty, deprivation and lack of development’ (Caballero-Anthony, M. 2005: 1). The role of international institutions, particularly the UN, has therefore been a greater need to monitor their missions for maintaining peace and security. Scholars now argue that the traditional distinctions might be insufficient for these new and complex situations. There was a delay in process to solve these problems rapidly. Traditional principles need to be applied to these internal wars, which are quite different from the interstate wars which occurred during the Cold War period, while developing new practices need to be adopted when operating within conflict zones (Tharoor, S. 1995: 61). Hence, commentators have suggested this changing form of traditional peacekeeping, the first generation, has become a new peacekeeping, or second-generation, mission (Mackinlay and Chopra, 1992: 113). This does not imply that there is a linear evolution from traditional to other forms of peacekeeping operations, but that these new peacekeeping activities drew interest from many observers in the 1990s (Malone and Wermester, 2006: 52). According to the Agenda for Peace, Boutros Boutros-Ghali proposed creating a system of rapid-deployment forces in order to assure peace and security for UN members (Davis, 1993: x). Nevertheless, any new role for the UN peacekeeping process still strictly emphasises the theoretical concepts of traditional peacekeeping. The system of rapid-deployment forces means that peacekeepers would use force as necessary, specifically when entering a situation with no ceasefires, or peace agreements in place. Furthermore, the more complex the dimensions of the conflict, the more dangerous they are than traditional missions. This statement entails that the traditional peacekeepers, who previously only dealt with two belligerents, may now face many belligerent groups (Donald, 2001: 111). It is therefore difficult for a UN presence to be consented to by all parties. Whenever a UN force was deployed to such a conflict area, without the consent of all parties, those belligerent groups who did not provide their consent would view the peacekeepers as a direct threat. These groups may possibly view the UN’s intervention as either taking the side of their adversely, or as invaders seeking to take over their domain. In the case of ‘any government fighting against an insurgency or rebel group’, the peacekeepers might choose the government’s adversary if they were unable to get consent from those governments (Lewis, 2010). Peacekeepers should therefore maintain the mandate of impartiality as much as they can do to unable all parties to realise that they are present in order to resolve the conflict. In response to these new challenges, the UN has expanded the scope of impartial peacekeeping to cover many new agendas of peacekeeping operations (Caballero-Anthony, M. 2005: 4). Not only does the second generation deal with the upholding of ceasefires, but it also increasingly engages with peace-building missions, including supervising and running elections, upholding human rights, overseeing land reform, humanitarian work, and reconstruction operations (Tharoor, 1995: 54). Consequently, the principles of the holy trinity can still be applied in any contemporary conflict. These principles would work more effectively and efficiently if the peacekeepers were more widely acknowledged, and that their operations are for keeping peace, rather than for their own interests and possible gains.

Even though these forms of traditional peacekeeping are still valid in the international affairs, it must be conceded that there are some weaknesses. The traditional peacekeeping process cannot resolve any conflict entirely. Although traditional peacekeeping could maintain peace and security, it only seems to prevent conflicts temporarily. The recurrence of armed conflicts between any two parties can often break out again at any time. The tendency for new conflicts to break out often follows the departure of UN mediators who believe that they had finished their mission. For example, UNEF I troops withdrew from the Middle East in 1967 when they believed that the relationship between Israel and Egypt had improved. Yet, fighting in the Middle East broke out again in 1973 (Malone and Wermester, 2006: 48). According to Ratner (1997: 4), the lack of cooperation from the key belligerents led to limited capabilities in traditional peacekeeping. UN peacekeepers could not act in the role of administrators, mediators, and guarantors to negotiate the process of a ceasefire agreement, and political settlement. UN peacekeepers could therefore not be deployed immediately when the belligerent parties refused UN peacekeepers to resolve the conflicts. A clear example of this was President Nasser's withdrawal of Egypt's consent to the presence of UNEF I on Egyptian territory in May I967 (Goulding, 1993: 454). At any rate, traditional peacekeeping cannot assure the peacekeepers’ security. Although they may have the consent and cooperation of the host government, this does not mean that all belligerent groups also provide their consent to the peacekeeping process. Mediation agents could be assassinated when they do not have suitably flexible measures for all parties. For example, Count Folke Bernadotte, who was the UN representative to observe the political agreement between the Jews and Palestinians, was assassinated by members of the Jewish underground in the late 1960s (Kapitan, 1996: 19). During the heyday of traditional peacekeeping operations, Dorn (2008) also found that over 2,400 peacekeepers were killed while serving in UN operations from 1948 until the end of the Cold War, and this research also illustrated that there were around 40 fatalities of UN peacekeepers, on traditional peacekeeping operations, per year. Moreover, the process of traditional peacekeeping was no longer an option when funding was limited. Occasionally, some operations were cancelled if the major states, which supported the funding, believed that these operations were an unnecessary drain on their resources (Ratner 1997: 23). The role of the third-party might also confront some problems from the ‘Blue Berets’, or ‘Blue Helmets’, themselves. The UN contingents are drawn from the armies of different nations (Donald, 2001: 113). They follow the orders from their countries only, but not necessarily the UN’s operational leader, who often comes from another country. Hence, the peacekeeping process is difficult to apply. In addition, the minimum use of force in traditional peacekeeping means that peacekeepers lack suitable weapons to protect innocent civilians in the conflicts and themselves when they face radical hostility. Finally, most traditional peacekeeping missions tend to ‘freeze a conflict’ rather than reaching a permanent resolution for launching the process of political settlements, and ceasefire arrangements (Caballero-Anthony, M. 2005: 4-5). The freeze of conflict was one the problems of traditional peacekeeping during the Cold War. Traditional peacekeeping operations have often spent considerable effort to solve these conflicts, and some are still not convincingly resolved. The long-running UNFICYP highlights this point. It is far this reason that the United Nations now supports a more rapid process of peace enforcement since the end of the Cold War (Tharoor, S. 1995: 62).

Having considered past peacekeeping operations, it time to turn to the question of what features of traditional peacekeeping will be visible in the future. Yilmaz (2005) argues that although there were some problems in those traditional missions, particularly those missions which remained unresolved, the data indicates that the UN traditional operations were largely doing well in terms of reducing conflicts and protecting lives between 1948 and 1988. This is why the traditional distinction should be emphasised in any contemporary and future peacekeeping operations. The doctrine of the holy trinity in traditional peacekeeping – consent, impartiality, and lightly armed forces – is still important features for any peace operation. To begin with the consent, it remains of primary concern for peacekeeping operation. Although some theorists might promote the phrase “second-generation peacekeeping" broadly, the old doctrine, consent, can still be used in contemporary issues. Second generations maintain the underlying principle of consent to be their major operational objective (Ratner, 1997: 21). The condition of consent creates a vital flexibility between a belligerent government and an international organisation like the UN. For example, Fortna (2004: 283) noted that in the post-Cold War era, traditional peacekeeping operations deployed with the consent of the antagonists are highly effective, and they can also reduce the likelihood of a reignition of a conflict by eighty-six per cent. Secondly, the impartiality is even regarded with the everyday tasks of peacekeeping. Tharoor (1995: 60) argues that ‘Impartiality is the oxygen of peacekeeping’. It seems that the tendency for conflict will likely increase in the future, so peacekeepers must operate their missions with complete impartiality. In doing so, all belligerent parties will acknowledge that they can be trusted, and that they are willing to negotiate to obtain a resolution together. Finally, the sensible reluctance to employ force is still beneficial to international peace and security. For example, the failure of UN enforcement under Chapter VII (Somalia 1993-1994 and Bosnia 1993-1995) shows that the armed resolution is not always the best option to solve a conflict, and it may in fact spread the flames of conflict (Tharoor, 1995: 56). It therefore remains that the UN should consider the concept of the minimum use of force as a necessary component driving all peacekeeping operations.




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In conclusion, since the establishment of the UN in 1945, it has admirably attempted to prevent any conflicts around the world. It cooperates with domestic, regional and other international institutions, particularly NATO, in order to maintain international peace and security. Peacekeeping operations have been developed since the formation of UNEF I. This operation resulted in the principles of Traditional Peacekeeping. Many scholars believe that the success of political negotiation between parties depends mainly upon the condition of the peacemaking efforts. The process of traditional peacekeeping underpins with the holy trinity: consent, impartiality and minimum use of force. Traditional peacekeeping involves monitoring ceasefires and controlling buffer zones for those belligerent states in order to promote peaceful conditions. Diehl argues (Diehl, 2008: 44) that the golden age of traditional peacekeeping was the period of the Cold War. After the end of the Cold War, traditional peacekeeping; however; was challenged with a new paradigm: globalisation, the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the rise of prolonged civil wars. These paradigms then led to a progressively changing pattern of peacekeeping from first generation (traditional peacekeeping) to second generation (new peacekeeping). New peacekeeping has attempted to examine the flaws of traditional peacekeeping in order that any future operations will work effectively and efficiently. Although the concept of traditional peacekeeping has some practical problems, which often may not be in accordance with the expected objectives, it has still played a significant role in managing the conflicts of belligerent states, providing stable peace in many conflict zones, supporting security and development and – increasingly – protecting civilian populations in the conflict zone. Whenever peacekeepers strictly follow the condition of the holy trinity, their operations can bring a better future to human welfare, both in those belligerent states and at the international level. Hence, the traditional forms of peacekeeping should be continued and accepted in every process of a peace operation.