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Are we expecting too much?

David Bosco raises a legitimate concern about “bang for the buck”. However, it is very difficult to measure results with any degree of accuracy when mission mandates are increasingly broad and often patently-over ambitious. I’d like to turn the question around, and ask if mandating authorities (like the UN, EU and AU) are not expecting way too much of peacekeeping — regardless of the financial costs?

For example, UN Secretariat officials repeatedly warned of the overwhelming obstacles to deployment to Darfur, but their warnings went unheeded by a Security Council that mandated 26,000 uniformed peacekeepers for the mission — with one of the main mandate elements being implementation of the defunct Darfur Peace Agreement.

The African Union Mission in Somalia managed to deploy only a quarter of its authorized strength of 8,000 due to a combination of logistical constraints, financial shortfalls, and a lack of peace to keep. With only 2,000 AU troops in Somalia and only 9,000 in Darfur, in March 2008 the UN Security Council was seriously debating the notion of deploying 28,000 UN troops to Somalia.

The widening gap between aspirations and the implementation of successful peace operations is very evident. The multi-billion dollar question is: How do we close this gap? By simply saying “enough” and retreating from the peacekeeping enterprise, as happened in the mid ’90s after the last big peak in global peace operations and some nasty experiences in the Balkans and Africa? By trying to expand the available means with the likes of the US-sponsored Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI), which aims to train a total of 75,000 peacekeeping troops — mostly Africans — by the year 2010? By commissioning another expert panel, like the one led by Lakhdar Brahimi in 2000 which produced very substantive recommendations on how to get the operational mechanics of UN peace operations right? Or by taking a really hard look at the mandate end and the peacemaking processes that precede the crafting of seemingly impossible mission mandates?

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Are we expecting too much?

David Bosco raises a legitimate concern about “bang for the buck”. However, it is very difficult to measure results with any degree of accuracy when mission mandates are increasingly broad and often patently-over ambitious. I’d like to turn the question around, and ask if mandating authorities (like the UN, EU and AU) are not expecting way too much of peacekeeping — regardless of the financial costs?

For example, UN Secretariat officials repeatedly warned of the overwhelming obstacles to deployment to Darfur, but their warnings went unheeded by a Security Council that mandated 26,000 uniformed peacekeepers for the mission — with one of the main mandate elements being implementation of the defunct Darfur Peace Agreement.

The African Union Mission in Somalia managed to deploy only a quarter of its authorized strength of 8,000 due to a combination of logistical constraints, financial shortfalls, and a lack of peace to keep. With only 2,000 AU troops in Somalia and only 9,000 in Darfur, in March 2008 the UN Security Council was seriously debating the notion of deploying 28,000 UN troops to Somalia.

The widening gap between aspirations and the implementation of successful peace operations is very evident. The multi-billion dollar question is: How do we close this gap? By simply saying “enough” and retreating from the peacekeeping enterprise, as happened in the mid ’90s after the last big peak in global peace operations and some nasty experiences in the Balkans and Africa? By trying to expand the available means with the likes of the US-sponsored Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI), which aims to train a total of 75,000 peacekeeping troops — mostly Africans — by the year 2010? By commissioning another expert panel, like the one led by Lakhdar Brahimi in 2000 which produced very substantive recommendations on how to get the operational mechanics of UN peace operations right? Or by taking a really hard look at the mandate end and the peacemaking processes that precede the crafting of seemingly impossible mission mandates?

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Security Council to Discuss Abkhazia and South Ossetia Today

georgia.jpg

Tensions are mounting between Russia and Georgia. Last week, Georgia accused Russia of shooting down an unmanned spy drone over Abkhazia — a Georgian province with a large separatist movement backed by Russia. Georgia even released a video of the incident, which they say proves Russian MIGs violated Georgian airspace.

The Security Council will take up the matter today, but don’t expect too much to come out of the closed-door meeting. Russia’s increased activity in Abkhazia and South Ossetia follows predictably from the western decision to back Kosovo’s independence. This is merely the other shoe dropping. I doubt shooting down an unmanned spy drone is all Russia has in store for the region.

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Security Council to Discuss Abkhazia and South Ossetia Today

georgia.jpg

Tensions are mounting between Russia and Georgia. Last week, Georgia accused Russia of shooting down an unmanned spy drone over Abkhazia — a Georgian province with a large separatist movement backed by Russia. Georgia even released a video of the incident, which they say proves Russian MIGs violated Georgian airspace.

The Security Council will take up the matter today, but don’t expect too much to come out of the closed-door meeting. Russia’s increased activity in Abkhazia and South Ossetia follows predictably from the western decision to back Kosovo’s independence. This is merely the other shoe dropping. I doubt shooting down an unmanned spy drone is all Russia has in store for the region.

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Tuesday Morning Coffee

Top Stories

>>Georgia – Yesterday Georgia accused Russia of violating its airspace with a MIG jet to shoot down a reconnaissance drone over Abkhazia. Russia denied the claim, saying that the drone violated UN ceasefire resolutions and was shot down by separatists. Georgia has video. Last week, Russia expanded relations with Abkhazia and South Ossetia, ratcheting up tensions.

>>Sudan – A census that is seen as an integral step toward holding democratic elections in 2009 has begun in Khartoum. The census will also help determine the distribution of Sudan’s oil revenues. Many in the south and in Darfur fear that the massive amounts of internal displacement will skew the results; insecurity will as well. President al-Bashir was the first counted. The United Nations is assisting Sudan’s government with this process.

>>Hamas – In a speech in Jerusalem capping his controversial nine-day visit, Jimmy Carter said that Hamas is willing to accept Israel’s right to exist as a “neighbor, next door, in peace” if a peace deal is accepted by Palestinians. They also said that they would allow kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shilat to send a letter to his parents and accept an interim ceasefire in Gaza. Israeli officials expressed doubt about Carter’s ability to follow through on the agreements and called his meeting with top Hamas officials “a disgrace.”

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Tuesday Morning Coffee

Top Stories

>>Georgia – Yesterday Georgia accused Russia of violating its airspace with a MIG jet to shoot down a reconnaissance drone over Abkhazia. Russia denied the claim, saying that the drone violated UN ceasefire resolutions and was shot down by separatists. Georgia has video. Last week, Russia expanded relations with Abkhazia and South Ossetia, ratcheting up tensions.

>>Sudan – A census that is seen as an integral step toward holding democratic elections in 2009 has begun in Khartoum. The census will also help determine the distribution of Sudan’s oil revenues. Many in the south and in Darfur fear that the massive amounts of internal displacement will skew the results; insecurity will as well. President al-Bashir was the first counted. The United Nations is assisting Sudan’s government with this process.

>>Hamas – In a speech in Jerusalem capping his controversial nine-day visit, Jimmy Carter said that Hamas is willing to accept Israel’s right to exist as a “neighbor, next door, in peace” if a peace deal is accepted by Palestinians. They also said that they would allow kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shilat to send a letter to his parents and accept an interim ceasefire in Gaza. Israeli officials expressed doubt about Carter’s ability to follow through on the agreements and called his meeting with top Hamas officials “a disgrace.”

Yesterday in UN Dispatch

The Rest of the Story


Africa

Americas

Asia

Europe

Middle East

Leave a comment

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