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Problematising the normative connection

W IDESPREAD INTRA-STATE CONFLICT is not a new phenomenon. Its rise to the centre of attention in international policy circles is. UN involvement in intra-state conflicts is not new either. What is new is the increasing systematisation of UN involvement in conflict-torn societies. It is these two novelties of the post-Cold War world that shape the main concerns of this study. What is problematised

in The United Nations, intra-state peacekeeping and normative change
Evolution of the normative basis

the creation of the UN itself. The UN’s first peacekeeping mission (UNSCOB) was authorised in response to the Greek civil war in 1947. Missions to Palestine, 1 Indonesia, 2 Kashmir, 3 and Korea 4 soon followed. All of these cases involved intra-state conflicts with strong inter-state dimensions. This early intra

in The United Nations, intra-state peacekeeping and normative change

This study explores the normative dimension of the evolving role of the United Nations in peace and security and, ultimately, in governance. What is dealt with here is both the UN's changing raison d'être and the wider normative context within which the organisation is located. The study looks at the UN through the window of one of its most contentious, yet least understood, practices: active involvement in intra-state conflicts as epitomised by UN peacekeeping. Drawing on the conceptual tools provided by the ‘historical structural’ approach, it seeks to understand how and why the international community continuously reinterprets or redefines the UN's role with regard to such conflicts. The study concentrates on intra-state ‘peacekeeping environments’, and examines what changes, if any, have occurred to the normative basis of UN peacekeeping in intra-state conflicts from the early 1960s to the early 1990s. One of the original aspects of the study is its analytical framework, where the conceptualisation of ‘normative basis’ revolves around objectives, functions and authority, and is closely connected with the institutionalised values in the UN Charter such as state sovereignty, human rights and socio-economic development.

The analytical framework

focus on social forces and pressures that impact on the UN’s organisational change. 9 The notion of ‘historical structures’, as we shall demonstrate below, provides a particularly promising avenue to investigate the normative connection between the UN and intra-state conflicts. While this notion is utilised by Knight to explore possibilities, potentials and prospects in the evolution of multilateralism

in The United Nations, intra-state peacekeeping and normative change

T HE NORMATIVE CONNECTION between the UN and intra-state conflicts is not static. It is a matter of continuous redefinition and reinterpretation as can be usefully observed in the context of intra-state peacekeeping environments. One of our contentions in this study is that, in the space of just three decades – that is, from the early 1960s to the early 1990s – the

in The United Nations, intra-state peacekeeping and normative change
Impact of structural tensions and thresholds

T HE UN’S RESPONSE to intra-state conflicts did not take shape in a vacuum. International normative preferences which had an impact on active UN involvement in intra-state conflicts drew their inspiration from and interacted with the international political milieu. No doubt the wider historical context in which the UN had to operate underwent constant change, as did

in The United Nations, intra-state peacekeeping and normative change

Government, the party alleged to be in the ‘right’, against the external Turco-British threat. For the United States, on the other hand, the UN was confronted with a primarily intra-state conflict. The task was to restore domestic law and order by putting an end to the inter-communal strife: No one is threatening to take

in The United Nations, intra-state peacekeeping and normative change

MPLA and UNITA were convened in Lisbon, in the presence of a Portuguese mediator and US and Soviet observers. Estoril to Bicesse: no place for the UN in intra-state conflict These initiatives did not involve active UN participation. When it came to the intra-state dimension of the conflict, international mediation efforts were conducted largely outside the confines of the UN. At

in The United Nations, intra-state peacekeeping and normative change

, ONUC had to avoid collaboration with any party so far as an intra-state conflict was concerned, hence the need to adhere to the strict principle of non-intervention. ONUC had entered the Congo at the request and in support of the Central Government against an unwanted foreign presence, but not against any internal ‘threats’. On 12 August 1960, Hammarskjöld drew Lumumba’s attention to previous crises

in The United Nations, intra-state peacekeeping and normative change
Guerrilla nursing with the Friends Ambulance Unit, 1946–48

humanitarian nurses working in high-risk conditions and daily making life-and-death choices. As in today’s intra-state conflicts, humanitarian actors such as the FAU must support the national government in meeting its responsibilities to its own people and yet maintain some independence from those same authorities. At the same time, as Hughes’s and Stanley’s experiences demonstrate, those same principles must be applied to the non-state armed group in order for humanitarian workers to operate safely and to gain access to those most in need of care. Choosing access over

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