Peace-keeping is the deployment of a United Nations presence in the field, hitherto with the consent of all the parties concerned, normally involving UN military or police personnel and frequently civilians as well. It is a technique which expands the possibilities for both the prevention of conflict and the making of peace.
The UN Articles 43 and 45 of the UN state that the Security Council can call on stand-by international military or police forces and deploy them swiftly in order to reduce or prevent conflicts from breaking out and/or continuing.
In the post-Cold War era, the number and diversity of conflicts and crises situations around the world have increased substantially. As a consequence, the United Nations has assigned ever more peacekeeping troops, whilst more troops are required than hitherto provided by governments in order to effectively meet these challenges. Peacekeeping troops also include national, regional and non-governmental forces.
Just as preventive diplomacy and conflict resolution, which are familiar responsibilities of the UN, have taken on new dimensions, so the term peace-keeping now encompasses a previously unimagined range of UN activities and responsibilities. Peace-keeping is a UN invention. The concept is, however, not a static one, but continues to evolve. In effect, in order for it to succeed, and to reflect the changing needs of the community of nations, peace-keeping has to be continually re-invented. Each case in which UN peace-keepers are involved draws upon the fund of experience, imagination and professionalism. It has been claimed that there are as many types of peace-keeping as there are types of conflict.
The task of peace-keeping, like that of peacemaking, is subject to an essential constraint; for peace-keeping to succeed, the parties to a conflict must have the necessary political will. Peace-keeping, even more than peacemaking, requires the adherence of conflicting parties to the principle of peaceful resolution of conflicts, notably as expressed in the Charter of the UN.
A key aspect of the new generation of peace-keeping operations is the role of public information in promoting understanding and generating support at both the national and the international levels. That support can be built only on a clear understanding of why a particular mission has been sent to a specific area, and how the mission plans to accomplish its objectives. In the atmosphere of heightened tension in conflict areas, public information activities play a vital role in facilitating the mission's work by disseminating timely and objective information, and counteracting propaganda and misinformation.
The UN has deployed more than 35 peacekeeping forces and observer missions since 1945, when the world organization was founded. From 1948 to 31 May 1993, over 650,000 military personnel have served in UN peacekeeping operations, with 935 casualties. There are 75,738 military and civilian police personnel serving, with contributions from 74 countries, as of 31 May, 1993. The missions have been able to restore calm to allow the negotiating process to go forward while saving millions of people from becoming casualties of conflicts. The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to UN Peacekeeping Forces in 1988 for its peacekeeping operations.
As of 1993, past and present missions include: UN Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO - June 1948 to present); UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP - January 1949 to present); First UN Emergency Force (UNEF - November 1956 to June 1967); UN Observation Group in Lebanon (UNOGIL - June 1858 to December 1958); UN Operation in the Congo (ONUC - July 1960 to June 1964); UN Security Force in West New Guinea (West Irian), (UNSF - October 1962 to April 1963); UN Yemen Observation Mission (UNYOM - July 1963 to September 1964); UN Peace-keeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP - March 1964 to present); Mission of the Representative of the Secretary-General in the Dominican Republic (DOMREP - May 1965 to October 1966); UN India Pakistan Observation Mission (UNIPOM - September 1965 to March 1966); Second UN Emergency Force (UNEF II - October 1973 to July 1979); UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF - July 1974 to present); UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL - March 1978 to present); UN Good Offices Mission in Afghanistan and Pakistan (UNGOMAP - April 1988 to March 1990); UN Iran-Iraq Military Observer Group (UNIIMOG - August 1988 to February 1991); UN Angola Verification Mission (UNAVEM - January 1989 to June 1991); UN Transition Assistance Group (UNTAG - April 1989 to March 1990); UN Observer Group in Central America (ONUCA - November 1989 to January 1992); UN Iraq-Kuwait Observation Mission (UNIKOM - April 1991 to present); UN Angola Verification Mission II (UNAVEM II - June 1991 to present); UN Observer Mission in El Salvador (ONUSAL - July 1991 to present); UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO - September 1991 to present); UN advance Mission in Cambodia (UNAMIC - October 1991 to March 1992); UN Protection Force (UNPROFOR - March 1992 to present); UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC - March 1992 to present); UN Operation in Somalia (UNOSOM - April 1992 to present); UN Operation in Mozambique (ONUMOZ - December 1992 to present). UN Operation in Somalia II (UNOSOM II - May 1993 to present); UN In 1993 there were 13 peacekeeping forces in operation, and in 1994, 16. The UN budget for peacekeeping activities has grown greatly from US$600 million in 1991, to 2,800 million in 1992, and $4,300 million in 1993, reflecting the substantial rise in numbers and diversity of conflicts in recent years. Outstanding contributions to peacekeeping operations (1948 to 1993) total about $1,500 million. If the UN is to pursue its peacekeeping mandate more effectively, contributions must be paid in full and on time, and may well need to be significantly increased in the face of the current trend of increasing conflicts.
Given the reality of global interdependence, no country can ensure security by itself. There must therefore be a process of collective and common security so as to ensure sub-regional and regional peace, stability and security. Peace-keeping is a conflict control mechanism designed to diffuse tension and provide the peaceful environment conducive for the peace-making process.
Traditional assumptions relating to the upholding of agreements, the consent and cooperation of the parties and the minimum use of force have all been under challenge from recent developments in certain peace-keeping operations. UN peace-keepers have been sent to areas where there are no agreements, where governments do not exist or have limited effective authority and where the consent and cooperation of the parties cannot be relied upon. Often their work has been obstructed by well-armed irregular groups and warlords who defy both their national authorities, where these exist, and the international community.