By J Nastranis*
The United Nations has been spending billions on assisting in navigating the difficult path from conflict to peace in different parts of the world. But with little or no success on the whole, as senior officials of the world body admit.
“Success is never guaranteed, because UN Peacekeeping almost by definition goes to the most physically and politically difficult environments. However, we have built up a demonstrable record of success over our 60 years of existence, including winning the Nobel Peace Prize,” says United Nations Peacekeeping.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon established in October 2014 a 17-member High-level Independent Panel on UN Peace Operations to make a comprehensive assessment of the state of UN peace operations today, and the emerging needs of the future.
Nevertheless, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Darfur, the western region of Sudan, have been drawing the focus of the lack of any significant success of peacekeeping operations.
In a joint statement on June 6, the African Union (AU), the United Nations, the European Union (EU), and the International Organization of La Francophonie (IOF) said they are closely following the situation in the country, where there have been reports of increasing political tensions linked to the uncertainty surrounding the electoral process in run-up to the November 2016 polls.
On June 14, Hervé Ladsous, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations told the Security Council that “little progress has been made in finding a viable political solution to the conflict” in Darfur.
The sectarian violence emanating from disputes over access to land, water and grazing areas remain a major cause of insecurity in Darfur. While direct clashes between the Government and armed movements have subsided, fighting with the Sudan Liberation Army/Abdul Wahid (SLA/AW) in Jebel Marra, which rejects any negotiations with the Government, has continued, Ladsous said.
Despite little or no success, the UN General Assembly has on June 17 approved USD 7.86 billion for 15 peacekeeping missions in the coming twelve months. The approved budget for the fiscal year July 1, 2015 – June 30, 2016 is about USD 8.27 billion. [A/C.5/69/24]. By way of comparison, this is less than half of one per cent of world military expenditures (estimated at $1,747 billion in 2013).
The top 10 providers of assessed contributions to UN Peacekeeping operations in 2013-2015 [A/67/224/Add.1] are; United States (28.38%); Japan (10.83%); France (7.22%); Germany (7.14%); United Kingdom (6.68%); China (6.64%); Italy (4.45%); Russian Federation (3.15%); Canada (2.98%); and Spain (2.97%).
UN peacekeeping operations in the fiscal year July 1, 2016 – June 30, 2017 will target Sudan’s Abyei region, the Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Cyprus, Darfur, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Golan, Haiti, Kosovo, Liberia, Mali, Somalia, South Sudan, Western Sahara and Somalia.
According to the breakdown of sums approved, nearly half the total amount – USD 3.85 billion – approved for all peacekeeping operations will go to the DRC and Sudan.
The highest amount – of USD 1.31 billion – has been appropriated for MONUSCO, the UN Stabilization Mission in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) with a view to “protecting civilians and consolidating peace” in the country.
MONUSCO took over from an earlier UN peacekeeping operation – the United Nations Organization Mission in Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) – on July 1, 2010, in accordance with Security Council resolution 1925 of May 28 to reflect the new phase reached in the country.
According to the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), the new mission has been authorized to use all necessary means to carry out its mandate relating, among other things, to the protection of civilians, humanitarian personnel and human rights defenders under imminent threat of physical violence and to support the Government of the DRC in its stabilization and peace consolidation efforts.
The second largest amount – USD 1.15 billion – has been allocated for UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), which became the newest country in the world on July 9, 2011. The birth of the Republic of South Sudan was the culmination of a six-year peace process which began with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005.
In adopting resolution 1996 (2011) July 8, 2011, the Security Council determined that the situation faced by South Sudan continued to constitute a threat to international peace and security in the region and established the UNMISS to consolidate peace and security and to help establish conditions for development.
Following the crisis which broke out in South Sudan in December 2013, the Security Council, by its resolution 2155 (2014) of May 27, 2014, reinforced UNMISS and reprioritized its mandate towards the protection of civilians, human rights monitoring, and support for the delivery of humanitarian assistance and for the implementation of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement.
The third largest amount – USD 1.10 billion has been approved for African Union-United Nations Hybrid operation in Darfur in Sudan (UNAMID). It was established on July 31, 2007 with the adoption of Security Council resolution 1769.
UNAMID has the protection of civilians as its core mandate, but is also tasked with contributing to security for humanitarian assistance, monitoring and verifying implementation of agreements, assisting an inclusive political process, contributing to the promotion of human rights and the rule of law, and monitoring and reporting on the situation along the borders with Chad and the Central African Republic (CAR).
Together with USD 284.83 million appropriated for Interim Security Force in Abyei region of the Sudan (UNISFA), UN will be spending over USD 2.5 billon in Sudan alone.
UNIFSA’s origins go back to the Security Council resolution 1990 of June 27, 2011, when it responded to the urgent situation in Sudan’s Abyei region by establishing the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA). The Security Council was deeply concerned by the violence, escalating tensions and population displacement.
The operation has been tasked with monitoring the flashpoint border between north and south and facilitating the delivery of humanitarian aid, and is authorized to use force in protecting civilians and humanitarian workers in Abyei.
UNISFA’s establishment came after the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) reached an agreement in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to demilitarize Abyei and let Ethiopian troops to monitor the area.
According to the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), currently there are more than 118,000 military, police and civilian personnel, serving on 16 peacekeeping operations. Since the UN does not have its own military force, it depends on contributions from member states. 128 countries provided military and police personnel as of March 31, 2015.