Policing the peace
Most of the peacekeeping operations conducted in the past 12 years have attempted to deal with internal conflicts rather than the more traditional commitment to establishing peace between warring states. In these cases, the United Nations has sought to find a formula that would justify intervention in agreement with the UN Charter's unequivocal statement of respect for national sovereignty. 1 Usually, the formula is based on an invitation from the parties to the conflict to supervise a peace agreement reached under the auspices of the United Nations or an ad hoc international body.
All too often, agreements have proved to be extremely fragile and the peacekeeping mission has been unable under its mandate to prevent or put an end to the outbreak of violence. In the process, peacekeepers have been killed or taken prisoner, sometimes in substantial numbers. And every time such a breakdown occurs, the authority of the United Nations is further diminished. Sometimes it seems that some factions are only too ready to use violence to defy the authority of the United Nations because they recognize that they are immune from real sanctions and that the peacekeepers are less of a threat than their immediate antagonists. Current activities of the militias in East Timor and the insurgents in Sierra Leone are cases in point.
With the benefit of hindsight one also cannot but recognize the flaws in the agreements and mandates that have so often failed to deliver peace and stability. But if the international community declines to learn from