Return                                                                                                                       Next

United Nations Peacekeepers

    One of the most important activities which the United Nations has engaged in since its founding in 1945, has been the establishment and dispatch of peacekeeping forces to troublespots where peace has been endangered or war has already occurred. When both sides to a dispute are prepared to negotiate a settlement, or have called a cease fire and need a cooling-off period, UN peacekeepers have been inserted between the warring factions to prevent escalation of the conflict and improve the climate for a negotiated settlement. Numerous disputes have been successfully mediated in this way.
    There are significant limitations to what a peacekeeping force can accomplish. It cannot succeed if any of the 5 permanent members of the Security Council are opposed, since they can veto resolutions needed for appropriate action. It has not succeeded in situations where the warring factions are unwilling to cease fire, since the Security Council has never approved sufficient resources for a UN force to be capable of fighting a war. The only instances when the Security Council has authorized a war, have been those situations in which the UN Security Council approved a war initiated and fought by one or more of the great powers. The two examples of this are the Korean War and the Persian Gulf War.
    The effectiveness of UN peacekeeping has been hampered by the fact that a force must be created from among recruits of willing member states on each occasion. There have been proposals for a permanent UN Peacekeeping force, which would be prepared to be dispatched on short notice before a crisis escalates out of control. Concerns about the sovereignty of nations, and unwillingness to give the UN any degree of sovereign power have prevented the creation of such a permanent force. The United Nations lacks police power and there is no international police agency.