Academic journal article International Journal of Peace Studies

The Peacebuilding Dilemma: Civil-Military Cooperation in Stability Operations

Academic journal article International Journal of Peace Studies

The Peacebuilding Dilemma: Civil-Military Cooperation in Stability Operations

Article excerpt

Abstract

The nature of complex humanitarian relief, peacebuilding, and reconstruction missions increasingly forces military and civilian actors to operate in the same space at the same time thereby challenging their ability to remain impartial, neutral and independent. The purpose of this article is to explore the cultural, organizational, operational, and normative differences between civilian and military relief and security providers in contemporary stability operations and to develop recommendations for improving civilmilitary cooperation (CIMIC) in order to aid the provision of more effective relief, stabilization, and transformation operations.

At 8:30 a.m. local time on October 27, 2003 an ambulance packed with explosives rammed into security barriers outside the Red Cross headquarters in Baghdad killing some 40 people, including two Iraqi International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) employees, and leaving more than 200 wounded. The ICRC announced immediately following the attacks withdrawal of its international staff from Baghdad, thereby reducing vital programs and services to the most vulnerable segments of the population. The October suicide bombing came two months after the August 19 attack on the United Nations (UN) headquarters in Baghdad that left 23 people dead, including Sergio Vieira de Mello, the Secretary General's Special Representative in Iraq. Expressing horror and consternation, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) head Mark Malloch Brown surmised on the day of the August attack: "We do this [humanitarian relief] out of vocation. We are apolitical. We were here to help the people of Iraq and help them return to self-government. Why us?" (quoted in Anderson, 2004, p. 52).

The outrage felt by some members of the non-governmental organization (NGO) community was not solely directed at the perpetrators, but also at the United States who was held indirectly responsible for the deaths of the humanitarian aid workers. Members of the UN and NGO communities felt they were endangered partly by the fact that the U.S. was fighting a war that had not been authorized by the Security Council and that had created a situation which had basically invited the attacks. Anderson (2004, p. 61) explains, "those who attacked the UN were not mistaken as to their targets or what they stood for. They understood both that the UN had stood aside from the US-led war but also that the UN and NGO groups collectively are not neutral or impartial about the nature of future peace."

The attacks illustrate a growing dilemma in stability operations: post-conflict reconstruction and humanitarian relief efforts force military and humanitarian actors to operate in the same space at the same time challenging the bedrock principles that characterized peacekeeping for more than half-a-century. Although the military has consistently emphasized the need for "complementarity," humanitarian organizations have expressed concern about the impact of civil-military cooperation on their ability to remain impartial, neutral, and independent in fulfilling their core tasks. As a result, the lines between neutral peacekeeping and relief efforts and non-neutral peacebuilding and reconstruction activities have become increasingly blurred, thereby raising dangers and risks especially for civilian actors.

This article explores the cultural, organizational, operational, and normative factors that shape the approaches of military and civilian nongovernmental (NGO) actors to civil-military cooperation (CIMIC) in peacebuilding and stability operations. The purpose of the analysis is to develop recommendations for improving civil-military cooperation in order to aid the provision of more effective relief, stabilization, and transformation operations. The first segment briefly recounts the evolution of peacebuilding and illustrates the central problems inherent in civil-military cooperation during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.