Crises in the Balkans: Views from the Participants

By Constantine P. Danopoulos; Kostas G. Messas | Go to book overview

failures, to suffer some damage to UN prestige and perceptions of UN effectiveness.

In its more traditional peacekeeping functions, on the other hand, UNPROFOR was reasonably successful, at least when performance of those functions allowed the UN to maintain an impartial stance. This more traditional role of UN forces implies acceptance of the basic functions by the parties to the conflict and then allows the UN to observe, monitor, mediate, and sometimes administer or adjudicate. Even if there are crises or short term confrontations, these are within the context of an arrangement to which the parties have agreed. Whenever peacekeeping goes beyond this or encounters significant resistance, the costs and risks increase dramatically. In those situations, success requires that major member states have the interest to commit whatever resources are necessary to carry through on the mandate. The unfortunate dilemma, of course, is that the UN is most likely to be given responsibility when member states are reluctant unilaterally to take the risks or commit the resources. For that reason, there must be considerable caution exercised when assigning such tasks to the UN.

For the future, the UN should focus its efforts on the development and refinement of its peacekeeping capacities. This would include improved financing, prior training of standby national military units, some standardized equipment, improved command and control arrangements, and other measures to make each peacekeeping force less ad hoc. Many improvements have already been made in UN practice here and more needs to be done. None of these types of actions, however, would have had a major impact on UN fortunes in Bosnia- Herzegovina. There the UN was given responsibilities it did not have the resources or adequate commitments from major member states to carry out.


Notes
1.
For a useful range of recent positive and negative views on UN activities and the possibilities for multilateral peacekeeping forces and other forms of intervention, see Leslie Gelb, "Quelling the Teacup Wars," Foreign Affairs, 73:6 ( November/December 1994), pp. 2-6; Tony Smith, "In Defense of Intervention," Foreign Affairs, 73:6 ( November/December 1994), pp. 34-46; John Ruggie, "Third Try at World Order? America and Multilateralism After the Cold War," Political Science Quarterly, Vol. 109:4 (Fall 1994), pp. 553-570; Giandomenico Picco, "The U.N. and the Use of Force," Foreign Affairs, Vol. 73:5 ( September/October 1994), pp. 14-18; Saadia Touval, "Why the U.N. Fails," Foreign Affairs, Vol. 73:5

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