Peacekeeping and the violence
in ethnic conflict
Roger Mac Ginty and Gillian Robinson
There is an immense literature on peacekeeping, much of it concentrating on reconceptualisations of peacekeeping after the end of the Cold War, the need for structural reform of the UN system, and case studies of particular peacekeeping operations. On the whole, however, the literature fails to give due attention to the nature of the conflict and violence to which peacekeeping and its successor types of intervention have been applied. To be effective, techniques used to manage and ameliorate the effects of ethnic conflict require a sophisticated understanding of the nature of the conflict and violence involved. This chapter will explore the nature of ethnic conflict and the violence often associated with it, and will also examine some of the main problems which ethnic conflict presents to peacekeeping. It is argued that peacekeeping, in its traditional form, is often an inappropriate form of intervention in cases of ethnic conflict. This is not necessarily an argument in favour of second- or third-generation UN peace operations. Instead, it is developed into an argument that smallerscale, often multiple, interventions, such as human rights monitoring and the introduction of confidence-building measures, hold a greater possibility for success. The United Nations has an enormous capacity to contribute to these forms of intervention.
Given the increased prominence of ethnic conflict in recent years, it is reasonable to expect that the international organization charged with the maintenance of international peace and security, the United Nations, would intervene to facilitate the settlement and resolution of conflicts.