The paper examines the issues surrounding the dispatch of an international peacekeeping force to help resolve the current crisis along the Israeli-Lebanese border. The paper reviews some of the previous mistakes made in the formation of such forces and offer some suggestions as to what should be required of the new force. The author holds that the international community is faced with a unique opportunity to help mediate and resolve the crisis, which if done effectively could restore hope in the United Nations and establish the foundations for peace and security along the Lebanese-Israeli border. It took more than 30 days of intense fighting before the international community agreed on a Resolution ending the hostilities between Hizbollah and Israel. Security Council Resolution 1701 called for the deployment of Lebanese forces supported by an international force along the Israeli-Lebanese border. However, the optimism that flowed from the adoption of 1701 has already began to dissipate following the realisation that once again the international community when facing the opportunity of taking decisive action to end a crisis adopted a half-way solution that in a long-run amounts to doing nothing. The aim of this note is to emphasise the dangers of sending of an international force to a crisis without equipping it with the necessary tools. The paper focuses on the challenges that a long-term international force would encounter once deployed in southern Lebanon and notes the shortcomings of Security Council Resolution 1701 (2006), which the author holds does not deal with the root causes of the crisis between Israel and Hizbollah. Thus, in many ways 1701 was a poor compromise designed to bring an end to the hostilities in Lebanon, but without dealing with the root causes; subsequently, it is simply a matter of time before we see the situation reoccurring with probably more dire consequences. The term ‘international force’ within the confines of this note refers to ‘international peacekeepers’, a concept invented by Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld in the 1950s to prevent conflicts from escalating and threatening the maintenance of international peace and security. However, the end of the Cold War has seen a change in the Hammarskjöld peacekeeping formula with peacekeeping operations becoming more multidimensional with international forces undertaking not only keeping the peace operations (patrol and monitor the imposition of a ceasefire) and separating the belligerents but also providing substantial humanitarian assistance and nation-building programmes. It is noteworthy that the United Nations Charter makes no reference to ‘peacekeeping’ as the architects of the United Nations never conceived of such a concept. The framers, all from powerful countries, chose to place their faith in the principle of collective security (‘four policemen’), meaning that the United Nations (through the Security Council) would work to ensure the maintenance of international peace and security. However, the Cold War and superpower rivalries generally prevented the Security Council from taking concrete and effective action to resolve crises and consequently the United Nations and especially the Security Council were frequently sidelined.
The first international peacekeeping force ever created was the United Nations Emergency Force I (UNEF I), formed following the 1956 Suez crisis during which Israel, as part of an elaborate plan, parachuted troops into the Sinai, an Egyptian territory. The Israeli action was supported by Britain and France who wanted to topple Nasser and de-nationalise the Suez Canal. The failure of the Security Council to get involved in what was a clear threat to the maintenance of international peace and security, not to mention condemn an act of aggression reminiscent of the 'gunboat diplomacy' of the nineteenth-century, led the General Assembly under the ‘Uniting for Peace’ Resolution to demand a cessation of hostilities. The Assembly also called on the belligerents to withdraw to the borders of the 1949 armistice and it requested Secretary-General Hammarskjöld to supervise the establishment of an international force responsible and answerable to the Assembly. UNEF’s mandate was to secure and supervise the cessation of hostilities, confirm the withdrawal of British, French and Israeli forces from Egyptian territory, and act as a buffer force between Egypt and Israel, whilst providing impartial supervision of the ceasefire.
Despite the involvement of the General Assembly in the formation of UNEF I, as it was a deviation from the intention of the UN framers, UNEF I is a good model for an interim 'traditional' peacekeeping force. UNEF I represents a good model because the major powers (the United States and the Soviet Union) supported the formation and deployment of UNEF Iand were willing to flex their influence to force a ceasefire. The disadvantages with the Hammarskjöld peacekeeping formula were the need to acquire the consent of the parties for the deployment of an international force within their territory; it did not support the sending of troops from the Permanent Members (Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States) of the Security Council; and, finally, consultation with the host country over the composition and the imposition of the force. In other words, the presence of the force was dependent on the consent of one of the parties to the conflict, meaning Egypt in the case of UNEF I. Overall the Cold War years did not see many adventurous peacekeeping operations baring the infamous Opération des Nations Unies au Congo (ONUC) established in July 1960. ONUC mandate was to guarantee the withdrawal of Belgian forces from the Congo, assist the new government maintain law and order, and provide technical assistance (Security Council Resolution 143 (1960)). However, due to an internal power struggle in the Congo and an attempt of secession by the Katanga province, the United Nations changed ONUC’s mandate to include: maintaining the territorial integrity and political independence of the Congo, preventing the occurrence of civil war and securing the removal of all foreign military, paramilitary and advisory personnel not under the United Nations Command, and all mercenaries (Security Council Resolutions 161 (1960) and 169 (1960)). ONUC, which consisted of approximately 20,000 personnel, suffered 250 fatalities and by the time of its withdrawal in 1964, had cost the United Nations around $400 million. This nearly bankrupted the organisation while also facilitating the rise of the Joseph Mobutu, the first modern kleptorcat who ruled the country as his personal fiefdom until his ousting in the early 1990s. Overall, ONUC proved a total failure.
The end of the Cold War and the creation of an international coalition to counter Saddam Hussein’s aggression vis-à-vis Kuwait inspired the United Nations to branch out again into the world of adventurous peacekeeping. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali captured the new sense of idealism in An Agenda for Peace, which sought to provide an, “…analysis and recommendations on the ways of strengthening and making more efficient within the framework of the Charter the capacity of the United Nations for preventive diplomacy, for peacemaking and for peacekeeping”. In other words, the United Nations was to become more active in international politics now that the fetters of superpower rivalries and ideology have been removed.
Yugoslavia was the first serious attempt to apply the new Post-Cold War idealism to international peacekeeping as the United Nations sought to prevent a civil war on the basis of ethnicity whilst establishing civil society through peacemaking. United Nations’ official participation in the situation in Yugoslavia began with Security Council Resolution 713 (1991), which expressed concern that the situation in Yugoslavia was posing a threat to international peace and security. The resolution called on the member states, the European Community, and the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe to assist in bringing an end to the conflict, whilst initiating a "…general and complete embargo on all deliveries of weapons and military equipment to Yugoslavia". Moreover, the Security Council established a UN force (United Nations Protection Force, UNPROFOR) to foster peace and security from which negotiations would rise. The rhetoric was powerful but the action was weak as the different factions in the conflicts continued their evil doings. This is famously illustrated by the Srebrenica massacre, in which Dutch peacekeepers stood by as Bosnian Serbs slaughtered more than 7,000 Bosnian Muslims. Thus, UNPROFOR was largely a replay of the ONUC saga, because the crisis in the former Yugoslavia centred on the desire of the different factions to attain and expand their political and territorial control. When UN forces failed to end the internal fighting, not to mention the great acts of savagery perpetuated by various belligerents, the key powers (especially the United States) turned to NATO to end the bloodshed. The United Nations’ involvement in Yugoslavia showed the dangers that arise with an ineffective, half-hearted intervention brought about by politicians making promises that they could not or would not honour. It also emphasised what happens when the purpose and mandate of United Nations intervention is unclear and lacks the willingness to impose international norms on the belligerents. Ultimately, the lesson of Yugoslavia is that when dealing with those willing to commit acts of evil what ends the bloodshed is a readiness by the international community to use force when international peace and security is threatened and acts of savagery occur. Somalia proved another test for UN peacekeeping operations. The ousting of Siad Barre in 1991 led to chaos and the threat of a humanitarian crisis on an Ethiopian crisis of the mid 1980s. Thus, a Secretary-General initiative (supported by Organisation of African Unity, the League of Arab States and the Organisation of the Islamic States) led to a ceasefire in March 1992 and the formation of the United Nations Operation in Somalia (UNOSOM I). On January 23, 1992, the Security Council adopted Resolution 733 (1992) urging the belligerents to end the hostilities. It also placed “a general and complete embargo on all deliveries of weapons and military equipment to Somalia.” Initially, the UN plan called for the deployment of a group of 50 uniformed but unarmed United Nations military observers in Mogadishu to monitor the ceasefire between the two main Somali factions battling for control over the capital. The first deployment took place on September 14, 1992 with the arrival of the advance party of UNOSOM observers in Mogadishu. When it became apparent that the United Nations operation needed more bite, the Security Council adopted Resolution 794 (1992) which authorised the creation of “a unified command and control” force known as the Unified Task Force (UNITAF). The force led by the United States began deploying its 30,000 troops in Mogadishu in December 1992, with the aim of taking control of the capital and creating a stable and secure environment to distribute humanitarian aid across the country. The Somalia peacekeeping operation was a failure for various reasons. First, the farcical withdrawal of American forces following the brutal slaying of 18 US Rangers in October 1993 strengthened the warlords in Mogadishu. Secondly, the United Nations refused to accept and work with General Aideed, even though he was the most powerful warlord in Somalia. This refusal highlighted a lack of appreciation for events on the ground – warlord and clan rule. Third, UN forces quickly ended up fighting everyone while also trying to please everyone. Fourth, the major powers were not interested in Somalia in terms of international politics. Somalia never posed a threat to international peace and security – the warring factions had no interest in expanding the conflict outside of the territory of Somalia, as their interest centred on the acquisition of internal power.
The Kosovo Force (KFOR) is a NATO-led force that works towards establishing and maintaining peace and security in Kosovo. The force entered Kosovo in June 1999 under a United Nations mandate, following a protracted attempt by the international community to end Serbian aggression against the Kosovar Albanians through diplomacy and negotiation. The refusal of Milosevic to end Serbian brutalities in Kosovo coupled with a mass exodus of Kosovar Albanians (225,000 refugees in Albania; 125,000 to Macedonia and 33,000 to Montenegro) led the North Atlantic Council to authorise NATO to initiate an aerial campaign against Serbian targets that lasted for more than 70 days. The intense bombing eventually led to the Military-Technical Agreement (June 9, 1999), which saw the withdrawal of Yugoslav forces from Kosovo. The following day, the Security Council adopted Resolution 1244 (1999) in which the Council agreed to deploy an international civil and security force to Kosovo under UN auspices. 1244 laid out KFOR’s mandate: establish and maintain a secure environment in Kosovo; monitor, verify, and if necessary enforce compliance with the conditions set out in the Military-Technical Agreement; and, provide assistance to the United Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). The deployment of KFOR began within eight days of the adoption of the resolution.
KFOR’s success arose because it had a strong military presence (at the height of the operation, KFOR had around 50,000 troops in Kosovo), support of key countries (NATO members as well as the Russian Federation), effective cooperation with the UNMIK, which ran the police operations, and most importantly KFOR had a consistent mandate; from the start it was clear what the purpose of the operation was and KFOR's role in realising that purpose. Consequently, the international force was able to demilitarize the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), a force that the US at one time viewed as a terrorist organisation. KFOR also pursued a dual programme that sought the confiscation of weapons while providing amnesty to those who volunteered to hand over their weapons. Overall, KFOR’s success emerged because the actors involved in Kosovo were aware of the challenges they faced and were able to forge an effective alliance with local actors, civilian authorities and international non-governmental organisations to ensure the reconstruction of Kosovo.
The international community is taking a monumental risk by becoming involved in southern Lebanon. Unless it learns from history the new peacekeeping force will fail to fulfil its obligations which would further cripple the organisation and cause untold damage to the region, by emphasising the UN’s inability to deal with complex crises. The first challenge facing the United Nations is the mandate of the international force including its composition, deployment and duration of stay. A second challenge will be dealing with the ongoing presence of Hizbollah within Lebanese society; Hizbollah represents more than a terrorist organisation as it operates educational, social and health programmes. Third, the Syrians and the Iranians are unlikely to end their meddling in Lebanon, particularly if they are excluded from any long term peace agreement. Lebanon enables Syria and Iran to protect their own national interests vis-à-vis Israel and the international community, which for Syria means working towards the return of Shabba Farm and the Golan Heights. Iran knows that as long as Israel has the Hizbollah on its northern border it will be weary of attacking Tehran as it would probably lead to the opening of a second front against Israel. It also helps Iran keep the nuclear issue off the international table as they have become quite apt as orchestrating regional crises that prevent in-depth discussion of their uranium-enrichment programme. Fourth, the scale of destruction caused by the Israeli military campaign in Lebanon has been extensive, requiring an international-led reconstruction programme. The nature of peacekeeping operations in the post-Cold War period has involved peacekeepers with humanitarianism and therefore the danger is that the 'new force' would become immersed in humanitarianism rather than peacekeeping or possibly peace-enforcing.
In drafting the resolution or resolutions dealing with the formation of an international force, the Security Council must ensure that the only task before the force is to assist the Lebanese government to restore “total and complete control” (“effective control” in the words of Resolution 425) over southern Lebanon. In other words, the only authorised military force in the country and especially in South Lebanon must be the official Lebanese Army. The international force would consequently have a dual function, first, stopping Hizbollah aggression against Israel (firing rockets and crossing the Blue Line); and, secondly, assisting the Lebanese government in asserting control over Southern Lebanon. Finally, an effective resolution must include some type of warning that failure to abide by the resolution may lead to further Security Council measures, such as the imposition of sanctions as permitted by Chapter VII of there is no such reference to sanctions in resolution 1701. That is, the resolution has no stick to it in which to punish Lebanon and those who threaten international peace and security. Consequently, should the Lebanese government/army decide to use Hizbollah forces to either permit Hizbollah to remain in South Lebanon or even assist its operations in southern Lebanon there is nothing in the resolution to prohibit such action. Further, it remains unclear what the Council would do to those states/individuals that provide weapons or equipment to actors not officially connected to the Lebanese government.
Second, in term of composition of the force, China, Russia, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Turkey, India and Thailand should contribute the bulk of the international force. The attraction of using Chinese and Russian troops is that both countries suffer from Islamic terrorism (China in the Xinjiang province and Russia in Chechnya). Critically, China and Russia both have strong relations with Tehran and Damascus. Thus, they could and should be encouraged to use their ‘good office’ to restrain Iran and Syria. Making China and Russia responsible for the maintenance of international peace and security along Israel's northern border also provides the two countries with more prestige in the international political arena. This prestige is something that both nations crave: Russia as a former superpower and China as an up-and-coming power. The other countries mentioned have tremendous experience in the realm of peacekeeping with Australia having led the initial UN operation in East Timor. Turkey, which has expressed a willingness to contribute troops to a multinational force, adds further weight to the formation of an international peacekeeping force mainly because it is a Muslim country, a member of NATO and has tremendous experience with an active and efficient international peacekeeping force through its involvement in Iraq and in Afghanistan (Turkey led the second International Security Assistance Force mission in Afghanistan). The appeal of having troops from Thailand and India is that both have potential candidates to replace Secretary-General Annan once he leaves office in December 2006, which means that they have an interest in the success of the force. India is also vying for a permanent seat on the Security Council. This represents a good opportunity for the Indians to show their commitment to international peace and security. Third, in terms of deployment and size, the force must be significant, at least for the first six months. 1701 authorises the expansion of UNIFIL from its current levels of a few thousand to fifteen thousand. The bulk of the force needs to be deployed predominately along the Lebanese side of the Blue Line. However, it is worthy to consider placing a small contingency of unarmed observers on the Israeli side of the Blue Line (mainly from Russia and China). The appeal of such a move is that it would show Israeli willingness to cooperate with the international force and also allow Israel to demand the placing of observers along the Lebanese-Syrian border to ensure that no weapons are smuggled from Syrian to Lebanon. It is unlikely that the presence of the force would bring to an end the smuggling of weapons but it might make the operation more difficult; it may also provide information as to Syria’s involvement in weapon smuggling, which would appear in the annual Secretary General report about the operation to the Council. To effectively patrol the various borders it is imperative that the international force have an air-wing composed of mainly helicopters, as seen with the United Nations Iran-Iraq Military Observer Group (UNIIMOG). Finally, the humanitarian assistance programme should run along side the international peacekeeping force but not be part of the obligations of the peacekeepers, as has been the case with UNIFIL. In Kosovo for example, UNMIK has its own responsibilities as does KFOR and the relationship seems to have ensured progress in the reconstruction of Kosovo. The humanitarian programmes should also include a number of confidence-building measures, which would help unite the different factions in Lebanon, some of whom suffered more than others in the war. Unfortunately, resolution 1701 entrusted UNIFIL with the added duty of ensuring humanitarian access to the civilian population. In essence, this means that the force would need to expend valuable resources on humanitarian assistance.
The current crisis in the Middle East affords the international community with a unique opportunity to bring forward the conditions necessary for stability in the region, which hopefully would lead to a long-lasting peace.
In relation to the current crisis, the United Nations needs the will and the courage to adopt a stance compelling Iran and Syria to cease their support of Hizbollah's nefarious activities; as long as the Hizbollah is able to rely on Damascus and Tehran it would continue to threaten Israel and the viability of Lebanon to function as an independent state. That is, the United Nations beyond the dispatch of a large international force, backed with a powerful mandate, must adopt a more active stance against countries that support and sponsor terrorist organisations, which in itself is a breach of Security Council Resolution 1373. Russia and China, two permanent members of the Security Council, must realise that the instability in the Middle East and the world comes from the ongoing relationship that Iran and Syria have forged with international terrorism and that it is in their benefit that this relationship is terminated. The problem is that unless Russia and China are brought into the fold of those countries battling international terrorism, the current situation in the Middle East would remain turbulent and uncertain. The presence of a strong international force in the shape of KFOR in southern Lebanon would go a long way to alleviating the concerns of Israelis in respect to Hizbollah. As things stand the United Nations offers the best possible source to resolve the crisis as it is becoming increasingly clear that Israel is unable to destroy Hizbollah's military capabilities. Israel must have the courage to place its faith in the United Nations to help it resolve the situation in the southern Lebanon. This is a difficult task as the United Nations has repeatedly failed Israel. However, if we are to fulfil the dreams of the framers of the UN and create a world in which people live together in peace then an element of faith and trust is required. I wish to thank Ms Heather Paperner and Mr Adam Stahl for their comments and diligence in editing the paper.