Peacekeeping and the United Nations in Mozambique

One aspect of the Peace Soldier's role in a conflict

Essay 2005 18 Pages

Politics - International Politics - Topic: Peace and Conflict Studies, Security


Table of Contents

List of abbreviations

1. Introduction

2. Conceptualization
2.1 Peacemaking
2.2 Peace enforcement
2.3 Peace building
2.4 Peacekeeping

3. The United Nations & Peacekeeping
3.1 History of Peacekeeping
3.2 The legal and practical parameters of peacekeeping

4. Peacekeeping in Practice – the case of Mozambique
4.1 Background
4.2.1 The Mandate
4.2.2 Operational activities

5. Conclusion

Selected Bibliography

List of abbreviations

illustration not visible in this excerpt

1. Introduction

Ever since the Second World War international peace and security have been at the top of the agenda of the international community. Especially the peacekeeping operations (PKOs) of the United Nations (UN) are an important component of today’s international peace situation. What exactly is peacekeeping and how does it work?

The efforts of the UN to end war, their successes or failures have increasingly become subject of discussions by scholars and politicians over the last years. However, a full assesment of the UN’s constitution and what this means in relation to peace operations would go beyond the scope of this paper. Therefore I am going to concentrate on the concept of peacekeeping and how it is put into practice by the UN. First I will give a brief overview of the different concepts that peace studies offer in terms of ending conflicts. Taking a closer look at the concept of peacekeeping, I will describe its developement within the UN and then look at how peacekeeping was put into practice in Mozambique.

2. Conceptualization

The process from an armed conflict towards peace can be divided into four different operations, which are commonly known as peacemaking, peacekeeping, peace enforcement and peacebuilding. Besides peacemaking, which is a diplomatic effort, all other concepts are implemented by soldiers.

2.1 Peacemaking

Behind the concept of peacemaking stands a diplomatic effort of ending an armed conflict by reducing its intensity and bringing the protagonists together for negotiations towards a cease-fire. Therefore peacemaking is often also called conflict resolution. In An Agenda for Peace the Secretary General of the UN Security Council defines peacemaking as an “action to bring hostile parties to agreement, essentially through such peaceful means as those foreseen in Chapter VI of the Charter of the United Nations.”[1] UN peacemaking initiatives would seek to encourage opponents to come to a peaceful settlements of their dispute through mediation, judicial settlement and other forms of negotiation.

2.2 Peace enforcement

Peace enforcement can be defined as an “action with or without the consent of the parties to ensure compliance with a cease-fire mandated by the [UN] Security Council acting under the authority of Chapter VII of the UN Charter.”[2] However, the concept of peace enforcement is widely discussed. The idea of using arms to bring an armed conflict to an end can be seen as contradictory in itself and there are several discussions as to, how and when organizations like the UN should be using force in peace operations. Hence, this method is not often intentionally put into practice.[3]

2.3 Peace building

The term peacebuilding is often used very broadly referring “to activities aimed at assisting nations to cultivate the promotion of peace before, during and after conflict.”[4] In its closest meaning peacebuilding comes into operation after a conflict has been settled preventing it from reoccurring. It involves external efforts to build up all sorts of structures such as social services, a judiciary and government.[5] “At the heart of peace-building is the attempt to build a new and legitimate state, one which will have in future the capacity to peacefully manage disputes, protect its civilians and ensure respect for basic human rights.”[6]

2.4 Peacekeeping

Providing a general definition of the term peacekeeping is not simple, especially since the range of peacekeeping activities has broadened over the years. The ones working with or studying peacekeeping all provide different definitions and not even the UN itself has an established definition of peacekeeping in its charter. One might say that “most commonly, peacekeeping is used to refer to any international effort involving an operational component to promote the termination of armed conflict or the resolution of longstanding disputes”[7] The distinctive attribute that seperates peacekeeping and peacemaking is that peacekeeping only starts after a cease-fire has been agreed upon.

In general four attributes can be used to characterize the approach of peacekeeping in contrast to traditional military operations. First of all, peacekeeping is non-coercive. Peacekeeping troops are usually brought into an area of conflict after a cease-fire has already agreed upon and it is the peacekeepers’ aim to keep the cease-fire between hostile forces. The Peace Soldiers provide a buffer between the protagonists, while remaining neutral. The peacekeepers’ duty to remain neutral means they are not favoring either side or claiming one side or the other responsible for the conflict. Thirdly, peacekeeping forces are only lightly armed. They are neither designed to carry out an offensive military mission nor do they have the capability to do so. It is the philosophy of peacekeeping to only use force in self-defense, which is also embedded in the UN Charter as a general principle. A fourth distinct feature of a PKO is the requirement of the state’s permission on whose territory the troops will be stationed. Without such permission, the mission would be endangered and could even provoke further hostilities in the area.[8]

Peacekeeping forces perform a variety of functions. They are usually observers, ensuring the maintenance of the cease-fire and detecting violations of the peace-agreement that established the mission. Furthermore, the troops isolate the hostile fronts from each other preventing hostilities to escalate. This function, relating to their role as a buffer, also provides a moral barrier to hostile action. With a military push that had to go through UN forces either side would risk the loss of life and international accusations. Besides the maintenance of the peace-agreement, the maintenance of law and order also plays a role. Especially in intrastate peacekeeping missions the soldiers patrol the streets and the countryside to report criminal or hostile incidents. A final set of functions is concerned with humanitarian activities, such as allowing the local population to use facilities set up for the peacekeeping forces (e.g. medical services), helping the population with water and electricity problems and providing access to the population for humanitarian organizations. Even though these activities are not necessarily part of the operations’ mandates, they help to advance the acceptance of the presence of the troops in the countries and underline their neutrality towards the conflict.[9]

3. The United Nations & Peacekeeping

In October 1945, in the aftermath of the Second World War, the United Nations came to existence with the intention to stabilize international relations and promote peace. Only three years later the concept of peacekeeping evolved, “born of necessity as a largely improvised response to the times.”[10] The first observer mission, the UN Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), was established in Palestine in 1948. This was the beginning of a series of PKOs which the UN is best known for: “the activities of blue-helmeted peace-keepers have emerged as the most visible role associated with the world organization.”[11]

As of today, there have been 60 different UN peace operations around the world since 1948. However, not all of them were successful, which reflects in the development of UN peacekeeping.

3.1 History of Peacekeeping

UN peacekeeping has grown with the organization. Up until today it can be parted into three different stages. The time period between 1948 and 1988, when peacekeeping first appeared on the world’s agenda, is known as the first generation of peacekeeping. During this early stage fifteen operations were established, focusing mainly on inter-state conflicts with the immediate objective of maintaining cease-fire and providing conditions for a more thorough peace agreement. In more recent years however, PKOs have more frequently addressed intra-state conflicts rather than conflict between states. With the end of the Cold War, a better cooperation in the Security Council was providing the chance to enhance other long-standing conflicts.[12] Additionally, “the success of an ambitious operation in Namibia, and a certain sense of triumph emanating from the Gulf War all injected a new feeling of confidence in the UN, thereby creating enlarged expectations about what the organization could accomplish.”[13] As a result, the number of peace-operations authorized by the Security Council in the following years was tripled and the number of issued resolutions quadrupled.[14]

This period between 1988 and 1994, in which peacekeeping became a major issue, is known as the second generation of peacekeeping. It is also referred to as multifunctional peacekeeping because the missions became more ambiguous and complex. Now the goal was not only to help implement a peace agreement between intrastate opponents by military means, but non-military components started playing a bigger role in creating sustainability. Those components are of humanitarian, social or economic nature, requiring civilian experts to work in parallel with the soldiers. Thus, demanding more attention, peacekeeping was given its very own section within the UN. The Department of Peacekeeping Operations was founded in 1992 in order to support the more complex and increased amount of operations.[15] The UN now started sending troops to so called ‘collapsed states’, where governments no longer function. Here, the “objectives include helping the warring parties move from violent conflict towards political reconciliation, democratic consolidation and reconstruction.”[16] These operations in collapsed states are the most difficult and arduous, which is why in few cases the UN has failed to remain control over the situation. In the early 1990’s PKOs in Rwanda, Somalia and Yugoslavia failed as the situation escalated leading to mass killings and chaos. These cases show that each PKO is unique and dependent on the background and circumstances of the conflict, as well as the situation into which the Peace Soldiers are sent.


[1] United Nations, An Agenda for Peace, http://www.un.org/Docs/SG/agpeace.html (accessed: 27.09.2005)

[2] Michael W. Doyle, “Discovering the Limits and Potential of Peacekeeping”, in Peacemaking and Peacekeeping for the New Century, eds. Olara A. Otunnu, and Michael W. Doyle (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 1998), 2.

[3] Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, “The Use of Force in UN Peace Operations”, Press release about The Use of Force in UN Peace Operations, by Trevor Findlay, http://www.sipri.se/Trevor_F-press.pdf (accessed: 27.09.2005)

[4] UN Department of Political Affairs, “Preventive Action and Peacemaking”, http://www.un.org/Depts/dpa/prev_dip/fst_prev_dip.htm (accessed: 15.09.2005).

[5] John C. Polanyi, “The United Nations and Peacekeeping”, in Ending War: The Force of Reason, eds. Maxwell Bruce, and Tom Milne (London: Macmillan, 1999), 140.

[6] UN Department of Political Affairs

[7] Paul F. Diehl, International Peacekeeping (London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993), 4.

[8] P. Diehl, 4-9.

[9] Ibid., 9-11.

[10] United Nations, Blue Helmets: A Review of United Nations Peace-Keeping, 3rd ed. (New York: United Nations, 1996), 3.

[11] United Nations, “History of the UN”, http://www.un.org/aboutun/achieve.htm (accessed: 15.09.2005).

[12] United Nations, Blue Helmets, 3-4.

[13] Olara A. Otunnu, “The Peace-and-Security Agenda of the United Nations: From a Crossroads into the New Century”, in Peacemaking and Peacekeeping for the New Century, eds. Olara A. Otunnu, and Michael W. Doyle (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 1998), 297.

[14] M. Doyle, 3.

[15] United Nations, “Frequently asked Questions”, http://www.un.org/Depts/dpko/dpko/faq/q2.htm (accessed: 16.09.2005).

[16] United Nations, Blue Helmets, 5.


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University of Cape Town – University of Cape Town
Peacekeeping United Nations Mozambique Vorlesung



Title: Peacekeeping and the United Nations in Mozambique