Padmini Rao, reporter for the United Nations General Assembly- Disarmament and International Security (hereinafter UNGA- DISEC) writes about the various successes, failures and inherent flaws of the current structure of the United Nations Peacekeeping Forces (hereinafter UNPKF).
The delegates of UNGA-DISEC opened the General Speakers’ List (GSL) to give their opening statements and political and diplomatic stances on the agenda. The GSL saw delegates supporting as well as criticizing the UNPKF and questions were raised against its effectiveness as the harbinger of peace to regions in political and humanitarian turmoil.
Delegates mentioned instances of success such the peacekeeping operation in Mali in July 2013 when the Western African nation held a peaceful presidential election after sixteen months of political and social chaos that included a rebellion in the north, a military coup, and an Islamist uprising. The situation in Mali was addressed by the United Nations Security Council, which adopted Resolution 2100 authorizing the establishment of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization (popularly known by its French acronym MINUSMA) in Mali with a troop strength of 12,640 peacekeepers, as mentioned in Article 12 of the resolution.
Delegates also mentioned the failure of the UNPKF in Rwanda, where the UNPKF did not do enough to prevent the 1994 Rwandan genocide that left almost one million dead. An independent enquiry by a commission chaired by Ingvar Carlsson, former Prime Minister of Sweden, sanctioned by the Security Council in 1999 found that the UN ignored evidence that the genocide was planned and refused to act once it started.
Furthermore, there is the case of Somalia, where the peacekeepers were met with a hostile reception in Mogadishu, leading to one UN official describing it as “the greatest failure of the UN in our lifetime”. However, there is also the frequently cited success story of Burundi, when the UN peacekeepers helped the nation recover from decades of ethnic conflict.
Kim Yuna once said “To many, peace is what enables development and is critical in providing opportunities to young people. To some- especially those from regions involved in conflict- peacekeeping and efforts to preserve peace are absolutely vital in bringing prosperity and hope for the future”. I cannot help but wonder if peacekeepers and the people they answer to have the best interests of people in conflict regions at heart.


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