Guide to IGOs, NGOs, and the Military in Peace and Relief Operations

Article excerpt

By Pamela Aall, Darnel Miltenberger, and Thomas G. Weiss. Washington: United States Institute of Peace Press, 2000. 298 pp. $14.95 (paper).

The recently published Guide to IGOs, NGOs, and the Military in Peace and Relief Operations, by the US Institute of Peace (USIP) and the US Army Peacekeeping Institute, is a well-organized, concise handbook that really could fit into a pocket or backpack in a field operation with no trouble at all--and it is well worth taking along. At 4 1/4 by 8 inches, it travels easily and is a useful source of historical and current information on the organizations in the title. It is meant as a reference manual, and not necessarily designed to be read from start to finish.

The Guide packs a lot of information into less than 300 pages. It has chapters on intergovernmental organizations (IGOs), nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and the US military, each by a different author. The authors state up front that it is intended as a tool for field operators. The Guide introduces the operators to their potential partners in the humanitarian "battlespace" of peace or relief operations, then explains how each will function. There is even an outline of the "Evolution of a UN Peace/Humanitarian Operation: An Illustrative Scenario" that in five pages covers all the phases of action in such operations: who arrives and when, the response, and the progress of the peace/humanitarian situation. One of the Guide's main goals is to help break down the so-called cultural biases that various actors harbor, in an effort to foster communication and cooperation, and perhaps even expedite the mission or mandate of an operation.

The well-known and prolific Thomas G. Weiss, formerly of the Watson Institute for International Studies of Brown University, authors the IGO portion. The section defines an IGO, lays out the history of IGOs, and profiles global and regional IGOs, including addresses and websites. IGOs are also described "in action," that is, how some of the most prominent IGOs function and their responsibilities in an emergency. Not only does this chapter provide a list of the main international players, but it also presents a brief review of the past decade's experience in peacekeeping. Derived directly from Weiss's work in the Humanitarianism and War Project at the Watson Institute, the section describes early and current UN peace operations (as contemporary as East Timor). The chapter ends on a note of philosophical conjecture, wondering if IGOs can actually ever really pull together and form a cohesive coalition. Will they recognize that successful mission completion might mean having to give up some autonomy and striving even harder toward the ever-rejected "C" word--"coordination"?

The NGO chapter, written by Pamela Aall of the USIP, is also an instructive and concisely written offering. It contains a brief history of NGOs, a listing of their objectives, how they may be expected to operate during conflict, and the challenges of coordination with other civilians and the military. …