Academic journal article McNair Papers

Foreword

Academic journal article McNair Papers

Foreword

Article excerpt

The period since the end of the Cold War has witnessed dramatic growth in the number of local wars, anarchic situations resulting from the collapse of governing institutions, and natural disasters requiring humanitarian assistance. The majority of international efforts to deal with these crises have been linked with the United Nations operations tied generically to "peacekeeping." The reason is not difficult to perceive. Bipolarity has given way to multipolarity; today, intrastate conflicts threaten international order and stability much as interstate wars have done in this century.

While debate in the academic community and official precincts in Washington has tended to focus on the purely military aspects of international peacekeeping in the post-Cold War era, United Nations involvement in crisis resolution has developed through the humanitarian entry point. This has most obviously been the case in Bosnia and Somalia, with far-reaching implications and consequences for military forces so engaged.

Numerous issues have arisen in the peacekeeping-humanitarian assistance realm. Most notable have been: (a) whether humanitarian assistance represents a form of intervention in violation of Article 2(7) of the United Nations Charter relating to interference in the domestic affairs of sovereign member states; (b) the extent to which such intervention is justified when governments brutalize their populations or cannot provide minimal services to their citizens; [C] how to reorganize and draw together the diverse and divergent United Nations agencies concerned with peace support and humanitarian assistance operations; and (d) which elements should be responsible for overall coordination and direction of the two activities, each with its own bureaucratic culture and distinctive history. …

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