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Evaluation Of The United Nations Peacekeeping Mission History Essay

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Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016

The purpose of this paper is to investigate United Nations peacekeeping operations and comment on improvements to contribute to success in future missions. This paper will be divided into five parts: First, Abstract of paper, second, the United Nations Peacekeeping Operation that focus on introduction and background of United Nations. In this part, I will talk about the beginning of UN mission, the features of traditional peacekeeping, peacekeeping operations in this post-Cold War era, and the position of the United States in UN Peacekeeping Operation. Third focuses on the peacekeeping mission in Cambodia. I will pick up the successful and failure points of UN Peacekeeping Operation. The case of East Timor, in Fourth, will also talk the successful and failure points of UN Peacekeeping Operation. The last one is conclusion evaluating the two UN mission.

II. United Nations Peacekeeping: Introduction and Background

“The Armistice Agreements” in 1948 led United Nations sent its first troops to Middle East to observe and monitor the peace agreement between Israel and its Arab neighbors. These agreements were signed during 1949 between Israel and neighboring Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria to end “the 1948 Arab-Israel War” and to lead the peace and stability for the West Bank. [1] So far, there have been 64 operations, established by United Nations, to intend to bring the peace for the World (UN Peacekeeping Home 2010).

“The term “peacekeeping” is not found in the United Nations Charter and defies simple definition. Dag Hammarskjöld, the second UN Secretary-General, referred to it as belonging to “Chapter Six and a Half” of the Charter, placing it between traditional methods of resolving disputes peacefully, such as negotiation and mediation under Chapter VI, and more forceful action as authorized under Chapter VII” (UN Peacekeeping Home 2010).

The situation stability through ceasefires on the ground had become the primary goals in “The Cold War rivalries.” After the Cold War, we saw that there have been changes in the tasks of UN peacekeeping in order to realize the “implementation of comprehensive peace agreement and sustainable peace” (UN Peacekeeping Home 2010).

In the early 1990s, the end of the Cold War gave rise to unprecedented cooperation between the five permanent members of the UN. This caused, in 1988, the achievement of the UN peacekeeping operations, and was recognized through the Nobel Peace Prize of its peacekeeping operations of twenty four and cost of $US4, 230 million (Amira A., 4).

There are several different features of “traditional peacekeeping” (Amira A. et al, 3&4):

1) Consent and cooperation of parties to the conflict;

2) International support, as well as support of the UN Security Council;

3) UN command and control;

4) Multinational composition of operations;

5) No use of force;

6) Neutrality of UN military between rival armies;

7) Political impartiality of the UN in relationships with rival states.

The beginning of setting up of the collective defense became the signal of the failure of the United Nations during the Cold War. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the Warsaw pact were created to divide the block alliance both economic and political cooperation. For a period after the Cold War, peacekeeping missions were undertaken outside of the UN system. The Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) Group in Sinai and the Indian Peacekeeping Force (IPKF) in Sri Lanka are two examples of these types of missions. Some of these missions were successful, and others were not (Amira A. et al, 4).

However, during this post-Cold War era, United Nations was faced a set of crises such as: “collapsed state structures; humanitarian tragedies caused by starvation, disease of genocide; large-scale fighting and slaughter between rival ethnic or bandit groups; [and] horrific human rights atrocities”. The following types of tasks characterized peacekeeping operations in this post-Cold War era (Amira A. et al, 5):

1) Military disengagement, demobilization, and cantonment;

2) Policing;

3) Human rights monitoring and enforcement;

4) Information dissemination;

5) Observation, organization, and conducting of elections;

6) Rehabilitation;

7) Repatriation;

8) Administration;

During last times, the relation between the US and United Nation have not stayed on the single direction. The losing the Human Rights and Narcotic Control Board at the UN, refusing on broadly supported UN treaties, its dues issues to the world body characterized the present US stance on the UN peacekeeping that US is turned away from the way on which UN is staying. More clearly, many US congresses accused the useless of UN peacekeeping and UN is using its troops to fight the US wars (Council for a Livable World, 2001).

According to The Council for a Livable World Education Fund Report, the US still plays import role in the process of UN peacekeeping and the US should continue more UN peacekeeping involvement to contribute to the settlement of “the world’s myriad problem”.

“It is no longer an issue of whether America will choose isolationism or engagement. …It is instead an issue of leadership and a calculation of the human costs of doing nothing or doing too little too late to prevent a range of catastrophes.” This “implies that international responsibility is the price of power and influence. The United States is uniquely positioned to move the United Nations forward in all aspects of peace operations…” (Council for a Livable World, 2001)

This report also said the important role of the US in the accomplishment of the UN peacekeeping. It raised the US leadership in the settlement of global myriad problems. The US will help strengthen more legitimate. In contrast, without strong legitimate, the US will fall into more conflicts and make neither political nor morally stability.

The US indicated that UN needed to reform. Unless, “capabilities will wither and failures will outnumber successes…and human kind will continue to sit by and witness another century like the last where over 110 million people were killed as a result of war and violent conflict,” states The U.S. Role in United Nations Peace Operations (Council for a Livable World, 2001).


History of Cambodia

In 1953, Cambodia managed to gain their independence in spite of World War II and the First Indochina War. Sihanouk abdicated the throne and became a full time politician. He started a political faction called the People’s Socialist Community (Sangkum Reastr Niyum). In 1960, Cambodia remained neutral in a struggle between the US and USSR regarding tensions in Vietnam, the king changed his position in 1965 and eliminated diplomatic relations with the US.

While Sihanouk was abroad in 1970, he was ousted from power and fled to China. General Lon Nol, the prime minister, had hoped for US aid, but the US was occupied with Vietnamese troubles and didn’t help. In the meantime, since his army was ill-equipped, they couldn’t stop an invasion by the South Vietnamese, searching for North Vietnamese.

To add to Lon Nol’s problems, Sihanouk had been persuaded to set up a government while in exile, called the Khmer Rouge. The Khmer Rouge became a thorn in Lon Nol’s side along with the Vietnamese until the Khmer regime collapsed. In 1975, the Khmer Rouge was able to take over Phnom Penh and shortly thereafter, the North Vietnamese were occupying South Vietnam. 

The Khmer Rouge felt antipathy toward Cambodians living in urban areas and forced them to the countryside where they were forced to work in various forms of agriculture. Leading the Khmer Rouge was a man by the name of Saloth Sar, better known as Pol Pot.  The government, Democratic Kampochea (DK), was run in part by rural Cambodians who were illiterate, but had fought along with the Khmer Rouge in the war.

The derision and ill-treatment felt towards the former city dwellers was slightly better than the treatment of anyone intellectual, religious, and those who were believed to be against the regime- their punishment was death. During Pol Pot’s (Khmer Rouge’s) regime over twenty percent of Cambodia’s population was murdered.

The Khmer Rouge’s plan to attack Vietnam and other areas backfired when the Vietnamese surprised Cambodia with an attack of over 100,000 troops. They were accompanied by Cambodian Communist rebels and managed to invade Phnom Penh. The Khmer Rouge, Pol Pot among them, fled to the Thai-Cambodian border, where they were given asylum by the Thai government, which was unfriendly to Vietnam.

The Vietnamese established a regime in Cambodia that included many members of the Khmer Rouge as well as Cambodians who had fled to Vietnam before 1975.  Not to be swayed, the Khmer Rouge and it’s followers created a government that was hostile to Vietnam while in exile, also known as DK.

The UN upheld this government in exile, with the support given to it by the US, China and Thailand.  With more ensuing conflicts between the two governments, many of Cambodia’s finest along with the general population, totaling over half a million people, resettled in other countries.  

By the end of 1989, the Cold War had ended which had the Vietnamese exiting Cambodia. Without financial support from the Soviets, the Vietnamese couldn’t keep their troops in the country. Another major change was in the country’s name, it was changed to the State of Cambodia (SOC), while the KPRP (who currently ruled Cambodia) changed their name to the Cambodian People’s Party. 

In 1991, the UN, Cambodia, and other interested parties came to an agreement to end the Cambodian conflict. A United Nations Transitional Authority (UNTAC) and a Supreme National Council (SNC) were formed and were comprised of members from different factions within Cambodia.  The agreement in Paris and the UN protectorate started competitive politics in Cambodia.

In May 1993, UNTAC sponsored an election for the national assembly, which ended up ousting the military regime. The Cambodians wanted a royalist party, FUNCINPEC. A government was formed with two prime ministers,  FUNCINPEC had the first prime minister, Prince Norodom Ranariddh and Hun Sen became the second prime minister. A name change for the country was in order, so in 1993 Cambodia became known as the Kingdom of Cambodia and Sihanouk became the king once again after ratifying a new constitution which re-established the monarchy.   After these changes were made, the UN no longer accepted the DK as the ruling party, thus causing them (the DK) to lose their seat and power in the UN.


After collapsing of the Khmer Rouge Regime and the prolong civil war for more one decade between the government forces and the military movement at the west and the north of Cambodia, in 1988, the peace negotiation began between the State of Cambodia (SOC) backed by the Vietnam military and Soviet Unions and the military alliance of the King Norodom Sihanouk and the pro-Western KPNLF supported by China, United States, and Thai and other one was Khmer Rouge. In 1989, by diplomatic and economic pressure, the Vietnamese military withdrew from Cambodia. In October 1991, Cambodia reached peace agreement in Paris to national reconciliation between SOC and the military movement including Khmer Rouge forces. All parties agreed to disarm and reached agreements to UN peacekeeping forces to arrange, observer, monitor the national election to rebuild the country and to end the civil that had destroyed the nation for two decades

In May 1993, the first national election was held. The Cambodian People Party known as the party of State of Cambodia (SOC) came in the second rank. Other three parties, Party of Democratic Kampuchea led by the Pol Pot who killed its 1.5 million Cambodian people boycotted in the election and refused to disarm; FUNCINPEC- United National Front an Independent, Neutral, Peaceful, and Cooperation Cambodia, led by the King Norodom Sihanouk, was in the first and he returned to the throne after winning the most seats in the parliament; the last party was Khmer People’s National Liberation Front (KPNLF) winning the seats in the parliament (Amira A et al, 4).

It is historical for the UN mission of peacekeeping, cost the largest almost US$1.5 billion. The mission, United National Transnational Authority in Cambodia or UNTAC, focused on seven major components (Judy L Ledgerwood, UN Peacekeeping Mission: The lessons from Cambodia, 2):

There, first, were 16.000 peacekeeping troops, and unarmed military observers sent to Cambodia in the framework United Nations to maintain security, monitor ceasefire and observe national election. Second, 3,600 civilian police worked to supervise the local police, conduct some police training, and

and help to protect human rights. Third, the peacekeepers educated voters, conduct the election, and observe the balloting. Fourth, they investigated, trained and educated human rights, and negotiated for release of political prisoners. Fifth, the mission contributed to rehabilitation of roads, bridges, and development work of the villages. Sixth, the refugee issues were also an important agenda of the mission. Cambodian refugees along the border Cambodia-Thai were repatriated to Cambodia. The last one focused on the civil administration and security and defense such as: Foreign Affairs, Defense, Finance, and Interior (police and internal security).

Majors Success of UN Peacekeeping in Cambodia

The mission was considered as the accomplishment of UN Peacekeeping Operation despite a boycott from the Khmer Rouge forces and killing of a Japanese electoral volunteer and his interpreter almost caused the cancellation of the balloting. There was four million of Cambodian People (CPP) of 90 percent eligible voters who went to the polls. FUNCINPEC and Cambodian People Party gained 45 percent, 38 percent, respectively. Other was the gains of smaller party and pro-Western KPNLF. At the result, no single party won two-third majority to establish the government. Thus the new government was born with the coalition of three parties- FUNCINPEC, CPP and pro-Western KPNLF (Judy L Ledgerwood, UN Peacekeeping Mission: The Lessons from Cambodia).

The second major success was the transformation of electoral information to the people, especially

those living in rural area through the UN radio station. The spread of information was very important to deciding of the people and explained their rights in choosing the leader and their vote was secret. People got the real information and made the right decision to choose their leader. Moreover, the UN radio also broadcast the political threat.

The third success was the ability of avoiding confrontation with Khmer Rouge forces. It was a successful point of UN Peacekeeping Mission in reducing the violence that could cause losing lives of the people. Moreover, this commitment led the general climate better in the election, especially the people felt much safer to participate the balloting. More importantly, The UN forces kept their neutrality in providing the security in the electoral process and well controlled a unified military structure.

The last one was repatriation and economic infusion with repatriating 350,000 refugees from the camps along the Thai border providing money, tools and suppliers, and land as well as building infrastructure, especially highways.

Failures of UN Peacekeeping in Cambodia

Even though the UN Peacekeeping was successful in its operation, there was some failure that came up after the mission was over (Judy L Ledgerwood, UN Peacekeeping lesson from Cambodia).

The 1991 Paris peace agreement was established by the four parties of rivals, “agreeing to disarm and allow the UN to deploy throughout the country and conduct new election.” In contrary, all parties did not follow the agreement to disarm. In 1993 election, the violence came up by all parties because they had weapons and their own forces. Khmer Rouge made boycott and fought the Stat of Cambodia forces and threatened people to participate in the balloting. Opposition parties were threatened. The violence showed through the verbal harassment to torment, booming, and executions to terrify and immobilize the opposition. On the other hand, the murder of Japanese electoral volunteer and his interpreter almost caused the cancelation of the balloting in Cambodia. The Khmer Rouge still has external support. The New York Times, December 19, 1993, said that the Thai military was accused of providing transport for Khmer Rouge forces attacking villages inside Cambodia. Even though it was true, UN could not do anything because it had no power to stop them.

The UN forces faced not only the failure of disbarment issue but also tightness in their ranks. Inequity was a cause. There were inequities of the pay of soldiers from different nations. Some

troops got the small salary providing their own countries and the compensation of dangerous was also very different. On the other way, there were some complains about dividing the participation of mission because only the Japanese forces got the safe position, extra security and better quarters than other UN forces. Another case was the behavior of the UN forces. Some UN forces got drunk, committed crime, and droved UN vehicle caused the civilian deaths. The mission ended without arrests in the worst human rights cases.

The mission spent a lot of money on the training and discipline for its civilian police. $US 300 million were spent to this program with the least successful of the operation. Moreover, the communication was also the problem because they were from different countries and they did not know clearly the discipline.

The present of the UNTAC boosted prostitution and the transmission of diseases. The HIV/AIDS became the serious problem for Cambodia. The Cambodians affected by AIDS were from 50,000 to 90,000, according to a WHO estimate by 1995. The lack of education of UN operation in this area was too little and too late. The general policy statement on sexual was created when Yasushi Akashi, UN representative in this mission, took actions to prohibit all UNTAC personnel to park UN vehicles at the brothels.

IV. East Timor


The war started between the groups who wanted independence and other wanted this country integrating into Indonesia, after this country got independence from Portugal. Occasionally, Indonesia used the military force to intervene East Timor as its 27th province in 1976 (Amira A. et al, 2003)

Portugal withdrew from East Timor as they were unable to control the conflict and Indonesia intervened militarily and integrated East Timor (“East Timor – UNTAET Background”). The United Nations did not recognize this integration and called for the withdrawal of Indonesia. Several talks between Indonesia and Portugal were held beginning in 1982 in an attempt to resolve the status of East Timor. In a set of agreements between Indonesia and Portugal signed on May 5, 1999, the UN was entrusted with the job of organizing and conducting a “popular consultation” in order to determine if the East Timorese people would accept the proposal of a special autonomy for East Timor within the Republic of Indonesia (Amira A et al, 2003).

Through Resolution 1246 toward establishing United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNMET), a vote was carried out by UNMET to oversee the transition period pending implementation of the outcome, registering 451,792 potential voters among the population of over 800,000. Among the 98 percent of registered voters who went to the polls, 78.5 percent voted to reject the proposed autonomy and begin a process of transition towards independence (East Timor-UNTAET Background). Following the vote, the violence came up. The Indonesian forces failed to response effectively to the violence. In September 1999, the International Force East Timor was created to restore peace and security and to support UNMET to carry out tasks and aids in humanitarian assistance operation (Amari A. et al, 2003).

By Resolution 1272, on October 25, 1999, the United Nations Transnational Administration in East Timor (UNTEAT) was established. The mandate for the mission gave UNTAET the following responsible (Amari A. et al, 2003):

1) To provide security and maintain law and order throughout the territory of East Timor;

2) To establish an effective administration;

3) To assist in the development of civil and social services;

4) To ensure the coordination and delivery of humanitarian assistance, rehabilitations and development assistance;

5) To support capacity-building for self-government;

6) To assist in the establishment of conditions for sustainable development.

Major Successes of UN Peacekeeping in East Timor

1) Registered 451,792 voters of a population of 800,000 in East Timor and carried out a successful vote in which 98 percent of registered voters went to the polls and 78.5 percent voted for independence (Amari A. et al, 2003).

2) After violence broke out in response to the result of the vote, the UN Security Council authorized the multinational force INTERFET to restore peace and security to East Timor.

3) The UN Security Council established a thorough mandate for UNTAET where duties began with the maintenance of peace and ended with the establishment of a government and creation of conditions for sustainable development in East Timor.

4) From the beginning, the UN brought the East Timorese people into the effort to rebuild the state to ensure that they felt it was their government and not one that was forced on them by the West.

Failures of UN Peacekeeping In East Timor

1) The Security Council failed to anticipate area of autonomy by the East Timorese, which cause a humanitarian security (Amari A. et al, 2003).

2) The agreement of May 5, 1999 made the East Timor under the power or the hostage of the power persons because UNAMET had no a military component.


In short, I think that the UN Peacekeeping Operation both in Cambodia and East Timor was the UN successful mission if we look at the UN transition for the two countries. In Cambodia case, after the collapse of the Khmer Rouge Regime, civil war had been prolonged for more than one decade. Cambodia was occupied by Vietnam. After the 1991 Paris Peace Agreement, the UN peacekeeping forces deployed in Cambodia. There were seven major mission concerning the security, observation, monitoring, education, development and refugees. In the UN transition, the free and fair election was held and the new government was created, joining three major parties that had influence on the national security and stability. It is the major success because the mission brought almost a full peace for Cambodia, even that time the Khmer Rouge forces made boycott and threatened the election and people and some violence and problems from UN forces. Until 1998, under the serious effort of the government, Cambodia got fully peace after the Khmer Rouge integrated into the government forces. Other case, East Timor, the actions undertaken by the United Nations in East Timor represent the most recent generation of peacekeeping. With a new concept of the role of UN peacekeeping, an UN-authorized multinational force is prepared for combat action if necessary, and is given the mandate, troops, equipment, and robust rules of engagement that are required for such a mission. But with this new notion of peacekeeping, military operations is just a prelude to state creation by the United Nations. The UN has realized that peace restoration is not possible without the creation of law and order.

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