Global Policy Forum

Lessons from Past Experience


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Security Council Resolutions Under Chapter VII: Design, Implementation and Accountabilities (September 2009)

This study examines and contrasts four widely different interventions approved by the Security Council under Chapter VII of the UN Charter in the past decade. Using the interventions in Afghanistan, Côte d'Ivoire, Kosovo and Sierra Leone as case studies, the report assesses their outcome in five main areas: the supportive or negative impact of the use of force, the Security Council's effectiveness in backing and monitoring implementation, the Council's role in legitimizing interventions by multinational or regional forces, the distance between prescription and action, and the challenges of state-building by outsiders.  (FRIDE)

Srebrenica: A "Safe" Area (April 10, 2002)

The Netherlands Institute for War Documentation's report on the fall of Srebrenica concludes the "humanitarian motivation and political ambitions" drove the Dutch to "keep the peace where there was no peace."

Rwanda: The Preventable Genocide - Report of the International Panel of Eminent Personalities to Investigate the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda and the Surrounding Events (July 7, 2000)

The Organization of African Unity's International Panel of Eminent Personalities (IPEP) that aims to investigate the 1994 genocide in Rwanda and the surrounding events in the Great Lakes region.

Report of the Independent Inquiry Into the Actions of The United Nations During the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda (December 1999)

A report of the independent inquiry commissioned by Secretary General Kofi Annan.

Training US Army Officers for Peace Operations: Lessons from Bosnia (October 1999)

Report released by the United States Institute of Peace in October 1999 analyzing the deficiencies and opportunities in peacekeeper training.

Multidisciplinary Peacekeeping: Lessons From Recent Experience (April 1999)

A detailed analysis on the challenges of peacekeeping and the lessons we can learn from past peacekeeping operations by the United Nations.

Lessons Learned from United Nations Operation in Somalia, April 1992 - March 1995 (December 1995)

A detailed analysis on the UN Operation in Somalia (UNOSOM) by the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations.



Srebrenica Victims File Complaint Against Dutch Peacekeepers (July 07, 2010)

Fifteen years after the horrific "Srebrenica massacre," relatives of two murdered men filed a complaint with the Dutch prosecutor's office charging three Dutch peacekeeping commanders with complicity in genocide and war crimes. After hundreds of civilians were killed in the Bosnian Muslim (Bosniak) enclave, the UN declared the region a "safe area."  A small unit operating under the mandate of UNPROFOR was responsible for guarding this area, but in July 1995 Serbian forces captured the region and massacred over eight thousand Bosniaks.  If deemed guilty by the Public Prosecutor, these peacekeepers could be sentenced to life imprisonment. (Jurist)


Is Task-Sharing the Answer to UN Peacekeeping Problems? (July 31, 2008)

This essay argues that task-sharing could be a solution to UN peacekeeping missions' limited financial and human resources. Using past missions in Haiti and Liberia as case studies, the essay claims that using regional organizations as partners in peacekeeping could lighten the UN's financial burden and make missions more effective by using local knowledge and resources. However, the article warns that the UN must increase oversight and monitoring efforts to make sure these regional partners act legally and with legitimacy. (e-International Relations)



Ten Years After Srebrenica Massacre UN Tries to Come to Terms with Failure (July 8, 2005)

The massacre of over 7,000 Muslims at Srebrenica in July 1995 "is widely considered a major fiasco in UN peacekeeping efforts." Furthermore, argues Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the lack of analysis on the world body's failure all but ensures similar mistakes in the future. Though it differentiates between the UN as an autonomous organization and as a collection of member states, this article nevertheless fails to caution against individual states taking too much authority over international interventions.



When the UN Fails, We All Do (December 13, 2004)

The author alleges that nations turn to UN peacekeeping missions when they do not want to act, but want to keep up appearances. UN peacekeeping missions are only as good as the member states that form them. Citing the Rwanda failure, the author argues the UN should "have the courage to refuse the mission" if the mission amounts to little more than the pretense of international action. If the UN refuses to intervene in a crisis, "people can point the finger where they should, at countries near and far that are doing little about it." (Newsweek)

Learning the Hard Way in Kosovo (December 9, 2004)

Peacekeeping failures in Kosovo can provide lessons for future operations such as those in Darfur, Sudan. Citing Kosovo's history, the author urges the international community to "act sooner and prepare better." According to the article, peacekeeping has become synonymous with nation-building. In Kosovo, soaring unemployment and widespread poverty enflame ethnic tensions. The author suggests that peacekeeping missions should focus not only on security, but also on economic development and clear legal ownership of resources. (YaleGlobal)



Learning From East Timor (October 21, 2002)

As demonstrated in East Timor, nation-building is not an easy process. As the US increasingly takes on that task in the Balkans, Afghanistan and perhaps, Iraq, it must demonstrate deep commitment to making such experiments succeed.(Newsweek)

Working Out How to Show Force Without Using It (April 22, 2002)

In an interview, Jean-Marie Guéhenno, UN Under Secretary General for Peacekeeping Operations, stresses the importance of not mixing up peacekeeping with peace-enforcement.(Irish Times)

The Dutch Were Not at Fault in Srebrenica - The World Was (April 18, 2002)

Although the Dutch government took responsibility and resigned for the fall of the UN "safe area," the Guardian argues that the only fault of the Dutch was their naivety in accepting the idea of "interventionism on the cheap" in Bosnia.

'Deterrence by Presence' is No Deterrence at All ( April 17, 2002)

The Dutch report on Srebrenica sends a warning that weak and inefficient peacekeeping missions will lose against the "peace-breakers who us[e] force freely and criminally." (Daily Telegraph)

Guns Before Butter: Afghanistan (April 6, 2002)

Before turning down the possibility of extending the Intern Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, the US should remember its peacekeeping experience in Bosnia. Although Bosnia is far from perfect, the significant US troop contribution to the region has undeniably contributed to peace. (Economist)

Rebuilding Nations . (April 6, 2002)

Richard Holbrooke, the former US Ambassador to the UN, argues that fighting for and reconstructing Afghanistan are both integral parts in the campaign against terrorism. (Washington Post)

Peacekeeping No Longer Domain of Military Brass (March 12, 2002)

The "rigid barrier" that existed between UN peacekeepers and NGOs is dissolving as more realize that increased NGO-PKO cooperation leads to a "win-win situation" in peacekeeping and peace-building. (Inter Press Service)

Understanding How Violent Mind Works (February 3, 2002)

Conventional genocide-prevention methods include diplomacy and military intervention, which are often mobilized in a "very late-stage" of a crisis. Yet learning from the Rwandan experience, strengthening the rule of law and democracy are the most effective safeguards against genocide.

(Associated Press)

Both Savior and Victim: Black Hawk Down Creates a New and Dangerous Myth of American Nationhood(January 29, 2002)

Initially, the US entered Somalia in 1992 to do "God's work" in a nation devastated by clan warfare and famine. Yet far from resolving the conflict, the US accidentally escalated aggression and transformed UN's peacekeeping mission into a partisan war. (Guardian)



French Insist Britain Must Share Blame For Srebrenica (November 30, 2001)

The French parliamentary inquiry into the fall of the UN "safe-area" in Bosnia harshly criticized the UN Security Council for "undertaking commitments they did not respect because they did not equip themselves with the means." (The Scotsman)

What Makes Humanitarian Military Interventions Effective? (October 31, 2001)

Taylor B. Seybolt of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) critically assesses the effectiveness of using military means for humanitarian ends. The success and failure of humanitarian interventions remain largely in the hands of the intervening countries, he argues.

The UN and Nation-Building (October 14, 2001)

The rebuilding effort of Afghanistan will likely fall on UN's shoulders. William Shawcross analyzes the UN's past track record in nation-building missions, and foresees the difficult tasks ahead. (The Scotsman )

Can the West Really Police the World? (October 3, 2001)

It's a deal, says the UK Prime Minister. The west will provide aid, write off debt, practice free trade and train soldiers if the Africans are serious about democracy and human rights. But can his rhetoric match the reality?(Guardian)

If IGAD Has Failed on Sudan, How About UN? (June 18, 2001)

This editorial questions the UN's choice of peacekeeping operations. Although the UN is actively involved in the DRC, Sierra Leone, Angola, and Eritrea, it has virtually ignored the devastating civil war in Sudan. (All Africa)

UN Peacekeeper Accused of Smuggling Elephant Tusks (February 11, 2001)

No immunity for ivory smugglers! Kenyan authorities arrested the head of the peacekeeping mission in Rwanda, after the UK-organization Save the Elephant discovered the smuggling network involving UN workers and diplomats. (Observer)

Troop-Senders Want Say (January 22, 2001)

Invited to discuss their concerns with the Security Council, troop-contributing nations asked for more information, cooperation and influence in peacekeeping decision-making. But who knows if the conservative Council will ever address their concerns? (Washington Post)




UN DPKO: Lessons from recent experience

Information posted by the UN about "lessons learned" from past peacekeeping operations to help in the planning of future operations and the conduct of ongoing ones.

Humanitarian Intervention: the Case of Somalia

An annotated resource list from Worldview that emphasizes the problematic side of the UN operation in Somalia.



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