UN’s checkered peacekeeping efforts marred by political agendas

March 17, 2010

NEW YORK, March 17, 2010/ Troy Media/ — The United Nations was founded in 1945 to bring all nations of the world together to work for and promote world peace.

That goal has yet to – and may never- be achieved. And it’s not the UN’s fault. It’s the unexplainable nature of the human condition that makes that idealistic goal unattainable.

That said, the UN will never fulfill the mandates of its charter.  All it can do is come close.

Sadly, the global peace organization’s failures, rather than its successes, will always make front-page headlines.

Understandably, this large, unwieldy conglomeration of diplomats and politicians has been incapable of agreeing and preventing – or even stopping – every single war or disaster that has taken place during the past half-century.

Monumental failures

Its monumental failures include wholesale killings in Bosnia, Somalia, Rwanda and Darfur. During these horrific events and others, the UN stood on the sidelines while atrocities – the wholesale slaughter of millions of innocent men, women and children – took place.

The global response to the UN’s paralyzed inertia during and following these events has understandably been merciless criticism.

In our special Troy Media report, The UN on Trial, our writers have both lanced and praised the UN.

Troy Senior Editor Jesse Leaf tore the noble peacekeeping organization to  shreds in a blitzkrieg attack. Writes Leaf: “The UN hasn’t done enough good and has caused enough damage for a top-to-bottom reconsideration of its future. At the very least, there is a desperate need for a major overhaul in its structure and functions; at most, an outright abolition of this expensive tool of despair.”

Yet Troy Managing Editor Doug Firby felt that “scrapping the UN in favour of an uncertain future would be a reckless move in a world where conflict is spreading, corruption is rampant and nuclear proliferation continues unabated. Flawed as the UN is, it is still the only means the world has to keep nations talking to each other.”

The realities of achieving world peace

In a perfect world, a noble, idealistic peacekeeping organization like the UN  would nip wars and disasters in the bud. Regardless of political agenda and self-serving causes, it would respond instantly and selflessly, sending armed troops anywhere on the globe in order to keep world peace.

But this is an imperfect world, and the UN is an imperfect organization governed by men and women, each of whom is guided by his or her own political agenda, which often renders this massive organization of different languages, cultures, religions and customs impotent and incapable of responding to all the documented acts of mass killings throughout the world.

Jocelyn Coulon, director of organization at the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute in Calgary and head of Montreal University’s Centre on Peace Operations, says the UN is better equipped to run peace operations following failures in Bosnia, Somalia and Rwanda.

Coulon says the world holds unreasonable expectations for the UN’s peacekeeping abilities.  “It will never be the American armed forces or NATO,” he asserts. “But change is taking place. For the first time in the history of peacekeeping, an American president, Barack Obama, addressed the issue of global peace at the UN in September 2009.”

Obama presided over a session of the UN Security Council that addressed the subject of nuclear nonproliferation.

In his speech, Obama focused on “four pillars” that the world should be striving for: “Nonproliferation and disarmament; promotion of peace and security; preservation of our planet; and a global economy that advances opportunity for all people.”

Coulon noted that even George Bush – described by many as one of the worst presidents in US history – had made an effort toward peacekeeping by saying that the US ought to help the UN boost its peacekeeping efforts.

While nothing concrete may result from both Bush and Obama’s assurances about promoting peacekeeping, Coulon felt that these expressed efforts, duly recorded in the annals of peacekeeping by the leaders of the largest contributor to the UN, were positive steps in the right direction. If nothing else, it put forth an attitude and willingness to promote world peace.

The bloody footprint of failure

Nevertheless, failures in Bosnia, Somalia and Rwanda will never be forgotten. It was the worst period in the UN’s history, according to Coulon.  In Rwanda alone, the Hutu majority reportedly slaughtered 1 million Tutsis.

More contemptible is the UN’s reluctance to take action in Darfur in 2003 and 2004, when more than 400,000 civilians were slaughtered and 2.5 million people were displaced from their homes. The world press called the wanton killings genocide, but the UN refused to describe the conflict as such.

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