UN peacekeeping operations in
the former Yugoslavia – from
UNPROFOR to Kosovo
As it evolved over the years, peacekeeping has become an extraordinary art that calls for the use of military personnel not to wage war, but to prevent fighting between belligerents, to ensure the maintenance of ceasefires, and to provide a measure of stability in an area of conflict while negotiations are conducted. It is therefore important to distinguish between the concepts of “collective enforcement” and peacekeeping in the international environment. Whereas the former is a punitive process designed to be carried out with some degree of discrimination, but not necessarily impartially, the latter is politically impartial and essentially non-coercive. Hence peacekeeping has always been based on a triad of principles that give it legitimacy as well as credibility; namely, consent of the parties to the conflict, impartiality of the peacekeepers, and the use of force by lightly armed peacekeepers only in self-defence.
The premise on which international peacekeeping is based is that violence in interstate and intrastate conflict can be controlled without resort to the use of force or enforcement measures. Needless to say, there are many theorists and, no doubt, a few practitioners who believe that force needs to be met with force. An objective analysis of the history of conflicts would make it evident that the use of force and enforcement measures, particularly in internal conflicts, tends to prolong the conflict rather than resolve it speedily. This is not, however, to suggest that the use of force is to be ruled out altogether; in certain circumstances, use of force may well be essential as a catalyst for peaceful resolution.