Cascading generations of
peacekeeping: Across the
Mogadishu line to Kosovo
Ramesh Thakur and Albrecht Schnabel1
As we step over the threshold from one century to the next, the United Nations is faced with growing demands for collective intervention alongside declining confidence in its effectiveness and efficiency, diminishing financial support for its activities by some leading industrialized countries, and gathering storm clouds in the direction in which it seems to be headed, propelled by the challenge of humanitarian intervention. 2 Serious doubts have been expressed about the institutional capacity of the UN system to cope with the multitude of challenges confronting it in the new millennium. In the meantime, the challenge of peacekeeping shows no sign of abating. Since UN peacekeeping was launched over 50 years ago in the Middle East, more than 50 operations have been deployed. Many have played critical roles in ending or managing conflicts in Africa, Asia, Central America, and Europe.
During the Cold War, UN peacekeeping forces were interposed between warring parties and used to forestall major power confrontations across global faultlines. The number of peacekeeping operations increased dramatically after the end of the Cold War as the UN was placed centre stage in efforts to resolve outstanding conflicts. However, the multiplication of missions was not always accompanied by coherent policy or integrated military and political responses. When the missions encountered problems, the “crisis of expectations” 3 of the late 1980s and early 1990s in turn gave way to a crisis of confidence-cum-credibility in