By R.M.B Senanayake –
The President in his Independence speech has stated that the UNO is violating the sovereignty of individual states. But the UNO has come a long way since the original Declaration in 1948 and his Advisers don’t seem to have briefed him on the present status of the UN. Then the emphasis was on preventing wars between States. The UNO is committed to maintaining peace between States. One of its earliest attempts was to have a UN mission to monitor the line of control frontier between the Arab States and Israel and in Kashmir between Indian and Pakistani Armies. But after the end of the Second World War most conflicts have been within individual States rather than between States although the latter was not totally absent.
Next came the end of the cold war between the West and the Communist States . It has meant that the UN Security Council, a body earlier paralyzed by US and USSR vetoes, was able to make progress and intervene in aid of international peace and security in a way that had never been possible before. The 1990’s saw a host UN attempts to stop violent conflict within States.
There are two chapters of the UN Charter that deal with settlement of disputes that are likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security. The first, Chapter VI, deals with pacific settlement, and also gives the Security Council the right to investigate and arbitrate, which are usually put in practice under observer missions, diplomatic envoys, and good offices (UN Charter). Chapter VII gives the Security Council the right to impose economic sanctions under Article 41 and the right to ―take such action by air, sea, or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security‖ under Article 42 (UN Charter).
Obviously, diplomatic means are always the first employed by the United Nations, and Chapter VI takes precedent in all cases. This can range from preventive diplomacy, peacemaking or negotiating settlements, to post-conflict maintenance and continued negotiation. Peacekeeping goes a step beyond this with the deployment of troops. However, the presence of troops does not mean that the UN is using force. Peacekeepers have a wide range of mandates,
Early goals of peace keeping were limited to maintaining ceasefires and stabilizing violence in order to make diplomatic solutions more reachable, but as the Cold War ended, the range of activities and mandates for peacekeepers has expanded. Peacekeepers now help build government institutions, promote human rights, set up local police forces, and disarm former combatants (UN Peacekeeping) to protecting and building peace after a conflict. UN peacekeeping aims to adapt to each conflict in order to meet the challenges of each situation.
The widely publicized peacekeeping missions in the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, and Somalia called into question the legitimacy and limitations of UN military interventions. This led to the concept of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P), conceived in 2001 and formally accepted into UN vernacular at the 2005 World Summit. The R2P asserts that if a state is manifestly failing to protect its citizens from mass atrocities and peaceful measures are not working, the international community has the responsibility to intervene: first diplomatically, then more coercively, and as a last resort with military force. States are bound by the UN Declarations on Human Rights and are required to abide by them and cannot plead State Sovereignty to shut out the UNO.
(With acknowledgments to “UN Intervention in Civil War and Post-Conflict Economic Recovery by Kelly Siegel)