Peacekeeping and the changing
role of the United Nations:
Margaret P. Karns and Karen A. Mingst
Ten years after the dramatic events of the Cold War's end, the turbulence in world politics has hardly subsided. The seismic changes associated with those events are compounded by the powerful processes of economic globalization, technological change, environmental degradation, and evolving norms of human rights and humanitarianism as well as the presence of new actors. Like the countries of the old Soviet bloc, the world is still very much in a transitional period, with the outlines of the emerging system still unclear.
As Secretary-General Kofi Annan noted in his 1999 address and annual report to the General Assembly:
State sovereignty, in its most basic sense, is being redefined by the forces of globalization and international cooperation. The State is now widely understood to be the servant of its people, and not vice versa … [with] renewed consciousness of the right of every individual to control his or her own destiny. These parallel developments … demand of us a willingness to think anew – about how the United Nations responds to the political, human rights and humanitarian crises affecting so much of the world; about the means employed by the international community in situations of need; and about our willingness to act in some areas of conflict, while limiting ourselves to humanitarian palliatives in many other crises whose daily toll of death and suffering ought to shame us into action. 1
A key question for the new millennium is whether there will be the necessary political will and organizational effectiveness to respond to the