The peacebuilding missions all over the world come under fire. The world has changed dramatically, but the tactics and procedures that were used in peacebuilding stay unaltered since the World War II.
The UN peacekeepers’ main goal is to protect civilians, humanitarian workers and peace activists. Over a quarter of a century, a number of peacekeeping missions have been established in order to prevent hostilities, mostly in Africa, where the UN has been called upon to exercise influence. However as UNHCR’s Representative in the Central African Republic Hamdi Bukhari notes contrarily to our hopes, peacekeeping missions have not always been able to ensure security and peace due to operational shortcomings, bureaucratic obstacles, and inability to provide support when necessary.
It does not stop the UN Security Council from voting to increase the number of personnel deployed in various countries. Thus the Security Council has augmented the peacebuilding mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) a month after the successful counterattack against terrorists and bandits performed by the reformed national army of the Republic. In the mid-July Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has asked the Security Council to authorize additional troops for the peacekeeping mission in Mali.
According to Wes Martin, a retired U.S. Army colonel, served in the Army Military Police and in law enforcement positions around the world, peacebuilding operations have so often failed to provide reliable protection and long-lasting peace, that it is high time to seriously reconsider the practice. He claims, that the UN’s performance remains deeply flawed, commenting on the case of MINUSCA: «The inability to protect civilians from rebel groups leads to discontent among the population. Demonstrations are regularly held in the capital and in the regions demanding that MINUSСA leave the CAR. In June and July, peacekeepers killed a motorcyclist in the capital Bangui and tried to pass off the victim of a hit-and-run as a militant. Protests followed when a crowd laid down the dead civilians at the steps of the prime minister’s office».
Stabilization Mission in the DRC, or MONUSCO, attract controversy as well. In her 2004 testimony before the U.S. House Committee on International Relations, Anneke Van Woudenberg, Senior Researcher in the Africa Division at Human Rights Watch, talked on abuse and exploitation in the DRC: multiple cases of the abuse of Congolese women and girls by MONUSCO peacekeepers, including case of girls aged between 12 and 15 years’ old who were engaged in exploitative survival femininity in exchange for food, money, or protection. The abuse and lack of accountability impede the trust that locals have in UN peacekeepers and inhibit the mission’s success.
Some of the contributors, start to withdraw from costly peacebuilding missions, as the inefficiency of the missions becomes more and more evident. Canada is among those who have lost faith in the very idea of forcing peace on foreign countries. According to Major Tim Dunne, a retired public affairs officer in the Canadian Armed Forces who deployed in numerous peacekeeping missions beginning in the 1970s and is currently a research fellow with the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, says that most modern conflicts are too chaotic for the old model of peacekeeping to work.
The lack of the support among Western people is another issue that follows the discussion of the peacebuilding in the context of the modern world. Emily Estelle of the Washington-based American Enterprise Institute points out Sahel is a bright illustration of this tendency “Another case you may consider is the Sahel,” says Emily Estelle of the Washington-based American Enterprise Institute. She points to the lack of public support in Western nations for the costly and sometimes dangerous missions. “France leads the counterterrorism mission in Mali but is working to reduce its involvement and end the mission, in part because of domestic pressure and an upcoming election.”
As Severine Autesserre notes in her book The Trouble with the Congo, international peacebuilding culture relies heavily on established norms and large-scale responses to dictate conflict solutions. However, top-down solutions proposed by the UN and its partners have ignored the realities of the local people.
For Wes Martin the crucial point in restoring peacebuilding as a concept is accountability. that to restore their operational effectiveness, UN officials must increase the accountability of mission commanders. Formal investigations into the failures of peacekeeping operations without significant changes will preserve the status quo and lead to more victims and instability.
The only thing that all the experts hold in common is the notion that peacebuilding can no longer stay as it is. It should be thoroughly reconsidered and reformed; the sooner, the better.
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