International Day Of Peace And The United Nations Peace Keeping Force

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Today, the world is in dire need of peace. From North to South and from East to West, our world has been splintered into factions because of race, caste, creed, ethnicity and nationality. In Kashmir and Palestine, peace is of utmost importance. Intermittent wars and incessant civil strife have torn nations and communities apart. The International Day of Peace, observed on September 21, envisages a world community built on the foundations of lasting peace.

The basis of a peaceful society is the economic and social development for all people whose rights are protected. That is why, the UN member states adopted in 2015 the 17 Sustainable Development Goals that cover a broad range of issues, including poverty, hunger, health, education, climate change, gender equality, water, sanitation, energy, environment and social justice. Without protecting justice and equality in a society, a peaceful society cannot exist. A sustainable environment can foster peace, in turn.

Some United Nations Peace-keeping Force Missions

The former UN Secretary- General Kofi Annan in his defense of UN Peacekeeping had said,” The first United Nations peacekeeping operation (Congo, 1960) was an attempt to confront and defeat the worst in Man with the best in Man: to counter violence with moderation, and war with peace. Since then, day after day, the UN peacekeepers have been meeting the threat and reality of conflict, without losing faith, without giving in, without giving up.” In the light of this statement, let us try to know about the United Nations peacekeeping efforts since 1948.

What is meant by peacekeeping?

In simple terms, peacekeeping refers to the efforts of the UN to establish lasting peace in areas affected by conflict.

According to the UN Charter, the power and responsibility to take collective action to maintain international peace and security lie with the United Nations Security Council. Peacekeeping is a role held by the Department of Peace Operations.

Peacekeepers engage in various activities like implementing the peace agreements, strengthening the rule of law, and social and economic development. They also facilitate the political process, protect civilians, assist in disarmament and protect and promote human rights. They work in physically and politically difficult environments.

What was the role played by the UN Peacekeeping force during the Cold War?

The UN wasn’t able to stop wars during the Cold War. Many large and small conflicts emerged everywhere that called for serious actions. The UN kept watch over the places with tension and even arranged ceasefires. It also placed neutral troops between the hostile sides hoping to keep them from fighting each other.

Twelve observer and peacekeeping forces were sent to conflict affected areas between 1948 and 1988. Half of them were sent to the Middle East. But, the UN Security Council never tried to use force to make peace among the warring parties. As of February, 2002, there have been 63 UN peacekeeping operations since 1948.

When was the first peacekeeping mission launched?

The first peacekeeping mission was launched in 1948 in the newly created state of Israel and was known as the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO). A conflict broke between the Israelis and the Arab states about the creation of the new state of Israel. Though there was a ceasefire, the mission remains operational even today.

The second Arab- Israeli War broke out in 1956. This is also known as the Suez Crisis and was against the nationalization of the Suez Canal. The war was between the alliance of the United Kingdom, France and Israel and Egypt, which was supported by other Arab nations. This resulted in the first emergency session of the UN General Assembly.

It was the Canadian representative Lester B Pearson who brought forward the idea of a UN police force. Peacekeeping activities began with the formation of the UN Emergency Force (UNEF). They were deployed in the Suez Canal region. The UNEF policed the Egyptian-Israeli border to prevent violent events from happening.

What happened in Congo in the 1960s?

The peacekeeping in Congo is famous for the controversies it created. This peacekeeping mission involved considerable military operations.

Congo became independent in 1960. But, the Belgian Commander of Congo refused to Africanise its army. This resulted in a lot of conflicts and even mutinies. The President and the Prime Minister tried to resolve the conflict, but it didn’t work. That is why they sought help from the UN.

The United Nations Operation in Congo (ONUC) was formed in 1960. But, the UN’s help was criticized by many Congolese. Many believed that the UN was working for the western (Belgian) interests. The USSR too believed so and refused to pay for the mission. The ONUC withdraw from the mission in 1964 even before the conflicts ended.

What did the UN do during the Korean War?

Korea had been under Japanese control during the Second World War. After the war, a split of opinions emerged between North and South Korea. North Korea was predominantly Communist while the South favoured the United States.

In June, 1950, the North Korean army invaded the South. The US President Harry Truman urged the United Nations to intervene. Following this, the Security Council decided to supply troops to resist from the attack on South Korea.

It was the first time that the UN used military action to repel an attack. After securing the South, the UN army ventured north. Later, China backed the North Korean army. After a series of fights, both parties agreed to sign an armistice in 1953.

What actions did the UN take during the Gulf War?

The Gulf War began in 1991 when Iraq invaded Kuwait. Iraq claimed that Kuwait produces too much oil that led to its price drops in the global market. It was in this situation that the Security Council decided to take action against Iraq. The UN also stated that the member states could use whatever means that were necessary to remove the Iraqi force from Kuwait.

In 1991, a multinational force, large comprising the US military assembled in Saudi Arabia for an operation in the name of the United Nations. This was code- named “Desert Storm”. It was a bombing campaign that lasted for six weeks. Kuwait was later liberated following a ceasefire. Iraq also agreed to pay compensations to Kuwait.

The above examples show that there should be many peace-keeping forces to make this world peaceful, particularly in Jammu and Kashmir and in Palestine.  Everyone has to contribute his or her best in order to keep the wars at bay. The present age is the age of science and technology. There is a need for a broad consensus on addressing the most important issues that have the potential to unleash a devastating effect on the world. The issues are poverty, climate change, human rights violations, domestic violence, rising inequality, etc. So, the need of the hour is that we should not go for a war in order to have peace. Instead, we should look out for peace to have peace.

Source: Monthly magazine –  Tell Me Why 

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