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Introduction: Thinking Anew about Peace Operations
A L E X J . B E L L A M Y a n d PA U L W I L L I A M S

In his address to the UN General Assembly in September 1999, Kofi Annan insisted that ‘state sovereignty . . . is being redefined by the forces of globalisation and international cooperation. These developments demand of us a willingness to think anew about how the United Nations respondsto the political, human rights and humanitarian crises affecting so much of the world’.1 International responses to these challenges have varied. The Canadian government, for example, has spoken at length about ‘human security’ and supported an international commission to develop a more reconciliatory approach to the relationship between sovereignty and human rights.2 In Britain, the then ForeignSecretary, Robin Cook, proposed a set of criteria to guide future humanitarian interventions.3 The Secretary-General himself commissioned the so-called Brahimi Report. This was to conduct a thorough investigation of past and current peace operations, question the conceptual assumptions behind them and suggest how the UN Secretariat and its decision-making bodies might improve their responses topolitical and human rights crises. The Brahimi Report was officially launched at the UN’s Millennium Summit in September 2000. Far from challenging first principles, however, the Report focused upon how the UN Secretariat’s staff working on peacekeeping might better manage personnel in the field to produce more effective results.4 To promote better management of peace operations the Report made fourmajor recommendations:




The military component of a peace operation should be robust enough to defend itself effectively and protect civilians under its care. There should be greater consultation between the Security Council and troop contributing countries. The Security Council should not authorize a mission until it has the means to accomplish its goals. The planning andmanagement of peace operations should be reorganized to improve coordination and personnel should be recruited on the basis of expertise.5

International Peacekeeping, Vol.11, No.1, Spring 2004, pp.1–15
ISSN 1353-3312 DOI:10.1080/1353331042000228427 # 2004 Taylor & Francis Ltd.



After a generally favourable international reception, the Report’scritics have grown, and at the time of writing its recommendations and reforms have yet to be tested in the crucible of establishing and running a new peace operation. India and Kenya, for example, have publicly disputed the idea that forces deployed on peace operations should be ‘robust’.6 Moreover, the practical experiences of post-Brahimi peacekeeping in Eritrea-Ethiopia (UNMEE), the ongoingoperation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC) and the mission supporting West African peacekeepers and French troops in Cote d’Ivoire ˆ (MINUCI) have not reflected the emergence of a new paradigm of peace operations. These missions have been guided by traditional definitions of consent, impartiality and minimum force and have been beset with the familiar problems of under-resourcing and lack ofpolitical vision, most notably in the case of MONUC. Conceptually, the Brahimi Report stopped short of fully ‘thinking anew’ about how peace operations ought to respond to political crises in at least two important respects. First, as with the Canadian and British initiatives, Brahimi’s panel failed to interrogate the roles peace operations play in wider processes of global politics. All threeapproaches assume a consensus exists on what constitutes a crisis, the elements of the solution, and the most appropriate strategies to achieve it. They therefore represent a managerialist or ‘problem solving’ approach to improving peace operations that does not fundamentally address structural issues but instead attempts to deal with particular sources of trouble within contemporary political...
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