We concluded our last essay on the question of “Controlling Wars”. Before reverting to that question, I wish to discuss with you a less important role of the UN; Peacekeeping. The reason for the delayed inclusion of a relatively unimportant subject should emerge with our examination of it.
Peacekeeping by the UN is a subject Pakistan has been concerned with from its very outset. And, Pakistan continues to be the largest and most consistent contributor to Peacekeeping missions. Its contribution and performance has been repeatedly lauded and many Pakistani soldiers have been cited.
Unlike Conflict Prevention, wherein it has nothing to boast of, UN takes considerable pride in its [what I consider to be modest] performance at peacekeeping. The very first attempt by the UN, in 1949 at, what would later become Peacekeeping, was the UNMOGIP; the UN Military Observers Group for India and Pakistan, sent to the Line of Control in Kashmir.
As would be expected from a maiden effort and, as is obvious from the title of “Observers’, it was a tentative effort. The group was merely permitted to observe, no more. Obviously, its observations would be limited to places it was given access to. India, ostensibly, for reasons of Observer’s safety, made denying them access, the rule rather than the exception. Pakistan has been, and is, considerably more accommodating but, can resort to denying access if it does not suit them.
I have no intention of going through the growth of Peacekeeping. Suffice it to say, that the UN has gone far beyond that tentative beginning and its military missions pepper the globe and, overtime, Rules of Engagement for UN Peacekeepers have emerged and, as necessity dictated have been modified with increasing liberty of action. Furthermore, UN now has a fully staffed Military Adviser’s Division.
Some half a dozen years ago, the National Defense University, NDU, Islamabad, jointly with UN, hosted a two-day International Conference on Peacekeeping. I was asked to sum it up. Obviously, I had to attend all the sessions.
Speakers delivered their talks; most of which were very informative but, ranged from boring perorations and monotonous statistics to impassioned speeches lauding the contributions of individuals and groups. But, one demand repeatedly filled the hall. One and all wanted Peacekeepers [and thereby, the UN] to “Do more”.
Every single speaker said, or implied, that the UN could and should do more to save the lives of the innocent; men, women, and children. “After all, that is what we go there for, isn’t it?” This question reverberated repeatedly and, it made considerable sense. That is what Peacekeepers go there for. But to get there and “do more”, the role of Peacekeepers would have to expand horizontally as well as vertically. And, some speakers stated that demand.
These were very knowledgeable people and, I am certain that all fully comprehended all implications regarding necessary loosening of the reins of the Rules of Engagement and all the possible complications that flow therefrom. What I was uncertain of was whether they had figured out the termination strategy required to stop doing more. When, which stage, and how? Because “Do More” is never enough. It can never be enough.
A vertical expansion of Peacekeeping implies the intensity with which peacekeeping is to be pursued and, concerns the liberty-of-action [or lack of it] in the means and actions employed in [enforcing?] peacekeeping. The horizontal question is, however, conceptual. And, some speakers sought horizontal expansion, acknowledging what it implied.
The question therefore was [irrespective whether Political Economics and the Powers-that-be would let that happen], should [could] the UN role be expanded to create peace, keep it and ensure that it stays? Because originally, that was the UN’s real role: Preventing Conflict; in which, we have concluded that it has consistently failed. So should we re-task the UN with the same mission; or what?
My summing up of the very informative seminar was brief indeed. I listed the conclusions drawn and their implications. And ended with some questions; a) were we envisioning the UN as a Supra government or a Super government and, b) in either positive response to a), if the UN is to be given some kind of monitoring role to ensure peace, it would, sooner, rather than later, need a force for policing and enforcing—-how would that work? The questions I asked, tickled my own mind too. I had, by then, drawn my conclusions the subject of political economy and, I was certain there was a connection, but it eluded me till after my summation of the seminar. I will, hopefully, conclude this series with it, next week.