From An Agenda for Peaceto the
Brahimi Report: Towards a new era
of UN peace operations?
Albrecht Schnabel and Ramesh Thakur1
The UN's expanded peacekeeping role during the past 10 years has overall been a disappointing experience. The hopes for a truly global security role for the United Nations, in part through principled application of traditional peacekeeping and not-so-traditional peace enforcing, were shattered in Somalia, Bosnia, Rwanda, and, recently, Sierra Leone. There are numerous political, financial, organizational, and operational reasons for the UN's inability to put effective peacekeeping troops on the ground whenever and wherever needed. Those have been examined throughout this volume from a number of perspectives – of the scholar, the police and military officer, the force commander, the special representative, and the UN Secretariat. At the end of the Cold War the United Nations showed great willingness and some promise to assume a greater global security role, as expressed in Secretary-General Boutros BoutrosGhali's An Agenda for Peace.2 An expanded role for the United Nations did not unfold over the years that followed: in part because of a lack of support from the most powerful of its members; in part because of the UN Charter's own principles on the virtual inviolability of state borders; and in part due to the UN's underestimation of the complexity and danger of post-Cold War crisis situations and an overestimation of the international community's willingness to match broad mandates with necessary resources.
Surely, the UN's “failure” to solve ongoing conflicts does not mean a failure of UN peacekeeping per se. But the United Nations (and the inter