This collection interrogates the representation of humanitarian crisis and catastrophe, and the refraction of humanitarian intervention and action, from the mid-twentieth century to the present, across a diverse range of media forms: traditional and contemporary screen media (film, television and online video) as well as newspapers, memoirs, music festivals and social media platforms (such as Facebook, YouTube and Flickr). The book thus explores the historical, cultural and political contexts that have shaped the mediation of humanitarian relationships since the middle of the twentieth century. Together, the chapters illustrate the continuities and connections, as well as the differences, which have characterised the mediatisation of both states of emergency and acts of amelioration. The authors reveal and explore the significant synergies between the humanitarian enterprise, the endeavour to alleviate the suffering of particular groups, and media representations, and their modes of addressing and appealing to specific publics. The chapters consider the ways in which media texts, technologies and practices reflect and shape the shifting moral, political, ethical, rhetorical, ideological and material dimensions of international humanitarian emergency and intervention, and have become integral to the changing relationships between organisations, institutions, governments, individual actors and entire sectors.
THE CHANGING MACROPOLITICAL landscape brought in its wake both continuities and discontinuities in the normative basis of intra-state peacekeeping, which we will closely examine in the context of four detailed case studies. Each case study in the following chapters will of necessity be handled in its ‘own’ time, in seemingly static fashion. This chapter will reinforce the change dimension that we introduced in the preceding chapter in which we tried to account for the historical trends impacting on the UN’s peace and security function and on the evolution of international norm-setting understood as the gradual fleshing out and re-interpretation of the Charter’s relatively vague provisions.
This chapter will not only situate the four case studies in the overall context of intra-state peacekeeping, but also further develop an important element of our argument, namely that the two periods under scrutiny (i.e. the early 1960s and the early 1990s) constituted critical thresholds in intra-state peacekeeping, each with its own particular normative resolution as to the UN’s objectives and authority. We will demonstrate how the interests and normative preferences of key actors interacted in intra-state peacekeeping environments in the early 1960s, and juxtapose the ensuing normative synthesis with the ideational attributes of the 1990s, which took shape in a different historical structural setting.
The emergence of UN peacekeeping missions can be traced almost as far back as 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 Korea4 soon followed. All of these cases involved intra-state conflicts with strong inter-state dimensions. This early intra-state involvement by the UN should perhaps be considered normal given that, contrary to conventional wisdom, the ‘shift in the balance between civil and interstate wars … is a post-World War II, not a post-Cold War phenomenon’.5 In any case, the UN’s peacekeeping efforts in the 1940s and 1950s were embryonic.
The very notion of peacekeeping did not fully emerge until the Suez crisis, when the Canadians proposed the establishment of a neutral inter-positionary force under UN command and control. Pearson’s proposal, developed in close consultation with Hammarskjöld, was heartily embraced by the United States, which had not been consulted by the Anglo-French coalition on the one hand, and had to confront Soviet threats of retaliatory action on the other. Within two years from Suez came the Lebanon operation which was the UN’s first notable intra-state peacekeeping effort.
In Lebanon, a constitutional amendment pushed by the pro-American President Chamoun to permit a second term in office led to the formation of the United Front – a joint opposition by Arab nationalists in Lebanon – which received support from Nasser’s pan-Arab movement. On 22 May 1958 Chamoun brought the issue to the Security Council, charging the UAR with intervention in Lebanon’s domestic affairs. Eventually, a Swedish draft was adopted by 10 votes to none, with the Soviet Union abstaining, which, taking into account the positions of both Lebanon and the UAR, authorised the dispatch of an observer group to ‘ensure that there is no illegal infiltration of personnel or supply’ into Lebanese territory.6 The mission, UNOGIL, continued for seven months until December 1958.
Building on the UN’s experience, especially in Suez and Lebanon, the most visible examples of UN peacekeeping came into being in the first half of the 1960s – the first ambitious period of UN peacekeeping. In addition to the three missions already under way (Palestine, Kashmir and Suez), six new missions were authorised: the Congo, West Irian, Yemen, Cyprus, the Dominican Republic, and India–Pakistan.7 All but the last had strong intra-state dimensions. Between 1960 and 1965 the world witnessed thirty-seven violent intra-state conflicts.8 A quick survey of the UN’s agenda between 1960 and 1965 reveals that out of forty-two conflicts brought before the competent organs of the UN, nineteen had clear-cut intra-state dimensions, which is almost half of the cases considered.9 However, only in five intra-state conflicts did the UN go so far as to introduce peacekeeping forces.
Three of the UN’s pre-1960 operations – Korea, Suez and Lebanon – are relevant to our argument, but only to the extent that they show a conceptual transformation in the UN’s approach to its peace and security function. These missions provide useful insight into the crystallisation of the normative basis of intra-state peacekeeping in the 1960s. While we do not intend to dwell on these cases at length, the point needs to be made, at least in passing, that one key notion which had dominated the original development of the Charter, namely ‘collective security’, informed the post-1945 approach to ‘maintenance of international peace and security’, and subsequently found its way to the normative basis of intra-state peacekeeping in the early 1960s.
Korea was the first and only embodiment of the consensual ‘collective security’ idea in the Cold War period. That the Soviet bloc strongly opposed the American-led UN action, while of significance politically and of explanatory value for subsequent UN inaction in several instances, is normatively speaking largely irrelevant. The dispute between the superpowers was not about ‘how the UN should respond to threats to international peace’, but about whether or not the Korean case constituted a threat to international peace, indeed an act of aggression. The Soviet Union held that it did not, whereas the United States and its allies argued otherwise. Eventually the United States managed to mobilise the General Assembly, and the UN’s first collective security exercise came into being.
The Suez crisis was perhaps the first step in the conceptual transformation of the UN’s response to security crises. Unable to resort to collective security measures in the presence of bipolarity, the UN (in the person of its Secretary-General) and sympathetic middle powers found a way to get the UN involved in the crisis – largely with the encouragement and blessing of the United States. This was the first attempt to introduce a conceptual distinction between collective security and ‘peacekeeping’, and implied a change in the normative basis of the UN’s security role, which related more to its authority than to its objectives.
Maintenance of international peace and security was still the main objective, with the utmost emphasis placed on protecting the sovereignty of state parties to the conflict. At the same time, the UN was required to respect fully state sovereignty, that is, uphold the principle of non-intervention. The notion of UN authority inherent in Hammarskjöld’s peacekeeping doctrine, however, contrasted sharply with that implicit in collective security thinking. Almost by definition, collective security envisaged that the UN would pronounce judgement on ‘threats to peace’ or ‘acts of aggression’, and would, if necessary, enforce its decision by force. It goes without saying that consent was considered irrelevant. Peacekeeping, on the other hand, was introduced with exactly opposite notions in mind, with the emphasis on government consent, neutrality, and non-use of force. While this distinction was introduced by Hammarskjöld, and found support from the United States and a group of middle powers which sought a speedy settlement to the conflict, it was nevertheless the collective security approach that shaped the normative attitude of a considerable number of actors, among them the Soviet Union and Egypt, which insisted that the UN punish the ‘aggressors’. In other words, the idea of ‘peacekeeping’ and the normative preferences which accompanied it were not necessarily embraced by all key actors.
The Lebanon crisis, two years after Suez, was yet another step in the conceptual transformation of the UN’s peace and security function, since this was the first time that the UN became involved – to be more precise, the first time the UN emphatically admitted that it became involved – in a conflict in which the external and internal dimensions were highly prominent and closely connected.10 This time, the UN, again in the person of its Secretary-General, tried to introduce a distinction between what might be labelled crudely ‘inter-state’ and ‘intra-state’ peacekeeping. This second shift, too, had normative baggage attached to it. Again, the UN’s main objectives remained unchanged. Maintenance of international peace and security was the dominant international preoccupation. The importance of protecting and respecting state sovereignty was not open to question. The authority of the UN, on the other hand, rested on ambiguities, reflecting both the notion of ‘collective security’ and that of ‘inter-state peacekeeping’ and yet in need of a normative basis distinct from both these notions.
Where the parties to a conflict were not governments, government consent lost its relevance, whether the UN chose to seek it (as in inter-state peacekeeping) or not to seek it (as in collective security). Where the threat to peace and security (or act of aggression) was not ‘external’ to a state, the UN’s pronouncement of ‘judgement’ would violate the principle of neutrality (as in collective security). Its strict adherence to neutrality between parties (as required by the doctrine of inter-state peacekeeping), on the other hand, would contradict protection of and respect for sovereignty as symbolised and exercised by the government. Resort to coercive measures (especially the use of force) against any internal party would bring into question the validity and solidity of the non-intervention principle.
By 1960, as the following chapter will demonstrate, Hammarskjöld himself was less than clear as to the exact nature of the UN’s authority vis-àvis intra-state conflicts, and the manner in which that authority might be reconciled with the UN’s overarching objectives, that is maintenance of international peace and security, and protection of and respect for state sovereignty. He was at pains to reconcile, conceptually, the demanding situation on the ground with the interests of key actors and with his own guidelines which he had devised in the light of the Suez and Lebanon experiences. Despite the ambiguities surrounding the idea of intra-state peacekeeping, as it prematurely emerged in the 1950s, the crucial point is that by the 1960s an international consensus had emerged on UN objectives in intra-state peacekeeping environments. However, a variety of views surrounded the question of the UN’s authority. Vestiges of ‘collective security’ thinking would soon be detected in the socialist and, to some extent, Third World responses to the Congo and Cyprus crises.
In the 1960s, at the height of the Cold War, there was little space for UN peacekeeping in intra-state conflicts, for the simple reason that the two superpowers strongly discouraged multilateral interventions in their respective spheres of influence. In one exceptional case, the United States ‘tolerated’ a tiny and largely ineffective UN presence in the Dominican Republic just to avoid harsh criticism from the Soviet bloc and the Third World against its overt intervention.11 Even the OAS, known for its overall pro-American stance, had only marginally supported US intervention. While both superpowers were more willing to tolerate UN peacekeeping outside of their spheres of influence, the Soviet Union in particular insisted that, when deployed, UN peacekeeping should aim to protect the host state’s sovereignty and not intervene in its domestic affairs.
In this period, what created space for active UN involvement (but minuscule UN governance) in intra-state conflicts was, in the first instance, strong Third World demands for UN action.12 While several Third World governments were ideologically and strategically aligned with either the West or the East, a majority of them tried to pursue a more independent foreign policy. Whether aligned or ‘non-aligned’, the entire Third World shared strong anticolonial sentiments. Having suffered at the hands of colonial powers, the new states wanted an end to colonialism. Significantly, the decolonisation project enjoyed support from both superpowers. In search of a mechanism capable of taming the former colonial powers, perhaps the ‘natural’ tendency of the Third World was to turn to the UN – an option not altogether disagreeable to the superpowers which were reluctant to engage in an unnecessary confrontation. The North–South conflict, which gave meaning and content to the decolonisation agenda, was perhaps the most crucial factor making possible the few intra-state peacekeeping missions.
The second contributing factor had to do with the efforts of ‘non-aligned’ states which were preoccupied with their own development programmes and the need to keep the two blocs from intruding into their internal affairs. In the early 1960s, the Third World’s insistence that no actor – especially the two blocs, but also the UN itself – should intervene in a state’s domestic affairs did certainly influence collective expectations as to what UN peacekeeping could or could not do. The presence and support of such developed neutralist states as Finland and Sweden contributed to non-aligned efforts. A third factor was the declaratory post-1945 consensus on the need to put an end to inter-state aggression. Although the Cold War had rendered the Security Council largely ineffectual in collective security, the Charter principle that the UN should prevent external attacks on its members remained a primary collective expectation.13
The strong desire to keep the colonial powers, the superpowers and the external powers generally at bay found its expression in a particular normative resolution of Charter principles in the early 1960s. To put it differently, the prevalent interests and values at this particular juncture were structurally reflected in the UN’s role as actor. In this context, maintenance of international peace and security emerged as the UN’s main objective, even in intra-state peacekeeping environments. As a consequence, whenever the UN became actively involved in an intra-state conflict, it would be expected to address, first and foremost, the international dimensions of the conflict. Even in the most controversial case of the 1960s, the Congo, the shifting emphasis of international diplomacy, as we will observe, could not completely obscure the prior preoccupation with the protection of the Congo’s sovereignty against ‘externally manipulated’ secessionist activities.
In keeping with the normative emphasis on international peace and security, a vertical relationship was created between the Chapter principles of state sovereignty and human rights, with the former largely dominating acceptable prescriptions for UN involvement in intra-state conflicts. Socio-economic development, meanwhile, was almost entirely left out of the scope of UN peacekeeping. Protection of and respect for state sovereignty, defined largely in terms of political independence and territorial integrity vis-à-vis external threats, was given priority over protection and promotion of human rights. Even the right to self-determination, arguably a ‘collective’ human right that necessarily accompanied the political project of decolonisation, was perceived more in relation to its external dimension, implying a people’s right to own and defend its ‘equally sovereign’ state.
Two points need to be underlined here. First, self-determination was, at best, a tangential issue for UN peacekeeping in the 1960s. When it was addressed at all, this was done in relation to its external dimension. Secondly, when addressed in the peacekeeping context, the principle of self-determination tended to clash with the principle of state sovereignty, and the clash of the two principles was resolved – both at the normative and practical level – in favour of the latter.14 In the Congo, Katanga’s claim to self-determination was suppressed. In Cyprus, the embryonic Turkish claim was ignored. In West Irian, Papuan aspirations for self-determination were not incorporated into the peacekeeping mandate, but later reduced to an ‘Act of Free Choice’ – a well orchestrated and largely cosmetic exercise designed to buttress Indonesian sovereignty.
In the Congo and Cyprus cases, as we will see, the issue of decolonisation was critical. The West Irian operation, too, addressed a peace and security problem arising out of the colonial context.15 Although the UN had, for the first time, established a ‘transitional authority’ in West Irian, and set a precedent for its future operations in Namibia, Cambodia, Eastern Slavonia and East Timor, its intervention was carefully designed, in line with prevailing expectations, not to prejudice the sovereign rights over the territory first of the Netherlands and then of Indonesia. Yet there is no denying that UNTEA represented the UN’s first excursion into territorial governance,16 and in so doing had created a new political space for the organisation.
During the transition from the colonial to the post-colonial era, international actors were, as we will see in the Congo and Cyprus cases, particularly sensitive to the need to protect state sovereignty against perceived colonial/imperial threats. While the UN was expected to defend sovereignty, it was, at the same time, required to respect sovereignty, that is, to uphold the principle of ‘non-intervention’. In the transition from colonial rule to independence, a certain fuzziness emerged in the interpretation of the principle: who or what exactly was the ‘sovereign’ in a given territory? For the new states, UN non-intervention in their domestic affairs signified their newly acquired statehood and the sovereignty which was inextricably linked to it. For the colonial powers, it meant that the UN could not be used to dissolve their empires within which they still claimed to exercise sovereign authority. At this critical historical juncture, this principle, precisely because of its ambiguity, was endorsed not only by the former colonies, but also by the colonial powers.
In Lebanon, Yemen and the Dominican Republic, as in the Congo, the main international preoccupation was to prevent foreign intervention, though not necessarily colonial intervention.17 In all cases, the UN was called upon to protect sovereignty against external interference. In Lebanon and Yemen,18 too, the international community insisted that the UN itself should not intervene in the domestic affairs of host countries. Its objective was simply to keep foreign powers at bay. When the state parties most directly involved were prepared to settle the dispute, the two superpowers could tolerate small UN peacekeeping operations of short duration, as in Lebanon and Yemen, which would concentrate on the inter-state dimensions of the conflict. Superpower tolerance, however, was predicated on the expectation that the UN would uphold the principle of non-intervention.19 During the Congo operation, Hammarskjöld would refer to the Lebanon experience as a precedent in this respect.20 With Cold War rivalries increasingly intruding into these conflicts, the superpowers had an added reason not to allow the UN to intervene in the domestic affairs of host states. In effect, the superpowers’ preference for the UN’s non-intervention in domestic affairs largely overlapped with the expectations of the former colonies and those of the colonial powers as mentioned above. Maintenance of international peace and security would go hand in hand with protection of and respect for state sovereignty, with the external aspect primarily in mind.
In the 1960s, concern over human rights was largely absent from the conceptual framework of UN peacekeeping. Although international actors sporadically expressed regret about violations of human rights and lack of humanitarian assistance, these considerations were only marginally attached to prescriptions for UN conduct in peacekeeping environments. Even in the case of the Dominican Republic, where, in comparison with other cases, the human rights objective was much more in the forefront of UN deliberations, human rights and humanitarian concerns were not incorporated to the Security Council resolutions, whereas the OAS force was mandated, at least on paper, with ‘maintaining the inviolability of human rights’.21
In the 1960s, the dominant view as to what authority the UN should exercise vis-à-vis intra-state conflicts came into being as a result of the clash between the normative requirements of collective security thinking and those of peacekeeping as advocated by Hammarskjöld. The Soviet bloc and parts of the Third World perceived, or at least presented, several intra-state conflicts as having their origin in external manipulation and intervention, hence the advocacy of the direct application of collective security measures, as we will see in the Congo and in Cyprus. The West, especially the colonial powers, on the other hand, went along with the Hammarskjöld principles which were, in a sense, carefully ‘designed’ by the Secretary-General to bypass continuing colonialist reluctance to create space for UN involvement in intra-state conflicts.
In effect, international concern over the UN’s possible ‘intervention’ in domestic affairs, coupled with the jealous insistence on state sovereignty, both of which we have analysed above, led to minimalist expectations of the UN in terms of its authority. The UN performed a limited range of functions (breadth) with limited involvement (depth) in intra-state conflicts. UN peacekeeping was almost fully subjected to the continuing consent of the parties to the conflict, while the UN itself was generally expected not to pronounce on the rights and wrongs of a particular conflict, and not to brand one side as being in the right and another in the wrong. UN use of force beyond self-defence was hardly imaginable.
The UN’s functions were generally limited to such military duties as border patrolling, observation of possible points of cross-border infiltration, reconnaissance, and cease-fire maintenance. The level of UN involvement rarely went beyond monitoring and supervision, since control and conduct of administrative or political functions were considered to be within the exclusive purview of governmental authority. The UN’s relationship to host governments was generally defined as one of ‘assistance’, which is perhaps indicative of the lowest level of involvement in the exercise of authority.
Consent emerged as a sensitive issue in the Cold War period. The Third World insisted on the principle of host government consent, since this was regarded as a fundamental requirement of the logic of ‘sovereign statehood’ which many Third World countries had only recently assumed. This view was largely supported by the Soviet bloc which sought further allies from within the ranks of the Third World and tried to make the most of the ever-strengthening anti-colonial (hence partly anti-western) sentiment within new states. The overall importance given to the ‘government’ in the socialist regimes should not be underestimated as a contributing factor.
The West, on the other hand, generally preferred Hammarskjöld’s doctrine of consent, whereby the UN was expected to seek the consent of all parties whenever it acted. Such consent, furthermore, should be sought on an ongoing basis. In other words, the initial consent to UN deployment would not necessarily mean continuous consent for subsequent UN actions. The western preference reflected the fact that the colonial powers – a significant wing of the western bloc – were now in a weaker position vis-à-vis the governments of former colonies: The consent of those intra-state parties, whom the colonial powers sponsored, should be sought at all stages of UN involvement.
The ensuing normative synthesis of these diverging positions reflected America’s inclination to accommodate two contrasting sets of demands: those of its allies and those of the Third World. The reluctance to invite unilateral Soviet intervention in peacekeeping environments was yet another factor influencing the US attempt to reconcile these diverging pressures. As a side effect of the delicate Cold War balance, the UN was expected to seek parties’ consent when it acted as peacekeeper. Especially important was the degree of cooperation to be extended by the host government. There was no clear answer, however, as to what should happen, were the government to consent and the other intra-state parties to refuse to do so, or vice versa. Even the Soviet bloc, with its clear-cut emphasis on government consent, was not entirely consistent, as reflected in its attitude in the post-Lumumba period in the Congo.
In the 1960s, parties to intra-state conflicts, including the immediate internal parties as well as indirect external parties, were particularly keen to ensure the UN’s ‘neutrality’. The requirement of consent was one way of achieving that neutrality; another was to make sure that the UN was not accorded a special normative status which would enable it to declare which party was in the right and which was in the wrong. This normative position is perhaps best understood as a compromise between the conflicting interests of the West and the rest of the world. While the Soviet bloc frequently called for UN judgements against ‘illegitimate’ parties, this was counterbalanced not only by the West but also by the Third World, whose views on ‘legitimate’ behaviour did not always match the Soviet standpoint.22 As an outgrowth of this particular normative resolution, the UN was not expected to pronounce its verdict on the rights and wrongs of a particular conflict – indeed it was positively discouraged from doing so. ‘Impartiality’ was in general taken to mean ‘neutrality’, and neutrality vis-à-vis immediate parties to any conflict implied, at a deeper level, structurally ‘imposed’ neutrality in the East–West and North–South conflicts. As a corollary, the use of force in UN peacekeeping was considered out of the question.
Yet in the 1960s the UN was expected to exercise a recognisable degree of authority on two occasions, in two different ways. First, the UN was assigned a degree of authority subsequent to the initial phase of the Congo operation. It was called upon to tell ‘right’ from ‘wrong’, to suppress the secessionist Katanga movement and brand as ‘illegitimate’ Stanleyville’s claims to governmental power. ONUC was assigned a role in the re-convening of the Parliament, and in re-activating the ‘formally’ democratic process. The concrete political result of that process, that is, the creation of Adoula’s Government of National Unity, was later used by the international community to prescribe a ‘referee role’ for the UN in judging the actions of intra-state parties to the conflict. In other words, to the extent that the Congolese Government was seen as a product of a democratic process based on a negotiated ‘national (re)conciliation’, ONUC was given the authority to declare ‘illegitimate’ any actions that were deemed harmful for the Government’s exercise of the Congo’s sovereignty. ONUC was also expected to act upon such judgement, and eventually did use force.
Secondly, in West Irian, the UN was given the exclusive authority to perform all administrative functions in the transition period. The performance of this broad range of functions, as we have already emphasised, was not allowed to prejudice first the Dutch and later the Indonesian claims to sovereignty. Nevertheless, the fact remains that the UN was expected to be in charge of a temporary political space which belonged neither to the sovereign Netherlands nor to sovereign Indonesia. Furthermore, UNTEA’s discharge of its administrative functions was ‘deep’ enough to go beyond mere monitoring or supervision. It involved direct control of a variety of tasks, including the opening and closing of the New Guinea Council and appointment of new representatives to the Council.23
The twenty-year period between 1967 and 1988 was characterised, as far as UN peacekeeping is concerned, by a remarkable UN inertia.24 During these two decades, only one operation was authorised by the UN in an intra-state conflict: the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).25 The mandate of this second UN mission in Lebanon is a good indicator of the normative continuity between the mid-1960s and late 1980s. To cite a key paragraph, the Security Council ‘strongly deplored’ any violation of Lebanese sovereignty and territorial integrity, Israel’s military intervention into Lebanon, provision of military assistance to the so-called ‘de facto forces’, and all obstructions of UNIFIL’s ability to take measures deemed necessary to ensure the effective restoration of Lebanon’s sovereignty.26
In the 1970s and 1980s, largely because of Cold War constraints, collective expectations of UN peacekeeping remained unchanged. Maintenance of international peace and security and protection of sovereignty were the main prescriptions for the UN. With the replacement of Taiwan by China in the Security Council in 1971, the principle of UN non-intervention in domestic affairs, if anything, gained added strength. Even massive human rights violations, as in Cambodia (one of our case studies), were in practice ignored by most influential state actors. However, as indicated in the previous chapter, several interlinked trends would gradually find expression in a subtle but nonetheless visible shift in actors’ normative preferences, which is not to say that those preferences were necessarily translated into immediate or sustained action.
Several civil society organisations had begun to flourish and campaign for human rights and humanitarianism, especially in the West, but also in a more informal sense in the rest of the world. While the tireless efforts of dissident groups in the Soviet bloc and of religious organisations in Central America and sub-Saharan Africa placed a degree of pressure on governments to address human rights concerns, it was western NGOs and advocacy groups, with increasing access to money, resources, publicity and support, which proved critical in raising the profile of human rights on the international stage.
The development of the CSCE’s ‘third basket’ conveyed perhaps the first serious signals that human rights could be systematically used as political leverage in the international arena. In 1977, Carter’s inauguration marked a shift in declaratory US foreign policy, in that human rights were now brought to the fore of international diplomacy. Rhetorical US support for the protection and promotion of human rights found its parallel in the attitudes of other governments as well, albeit on a more selective basis. A classical case is Moscow’s determined propaganda effort in the context of Cambodia (see Chapter 8). It was also not uncommon for state parties to a conflict to accuse each other of systematic human rights abuses, as was the case with Kashmir or the Middle East. Governments generally began to pay lip service to human rights. Perhaps the most notable exception in this regard was China which continued to keep human rights as a low profile issue.
Rhetorical governmental support for human rights was embodied in a great number of human rights instruments between the mid-1960s and the early 1990s. Apart from UN-initiated refinement of human rights law, major regional efforts strengthened human rights discourse by devising their respective instruments. The American Convention on Human Rights (22 November 1969) and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (7 June 1981) are perhaps the best examples. IGOs were thus able to give added impetus to the increasing prominence of human rights, creating their own human rights regimes, making explicit references to UN human rights instruments, and invoking the human rights discourse, slowly but steadily, in relation to several conflicts in their respective regions.
While implicitly treated as a relatively secondary issue, human rights increasingly found their way into UN involvement in intra-state conflicts. Special human rights teams were sent to South Africa (1967), Israel (1968) and Chile (1975).27 The sanctions imposed on Southern Rhodesia and South Africa were among the first notable signs of the rising importance of human rights on the international agenda. After 1974, the UN became increasingly concerned with the human rights aspects of the Cyprus conflict, with each party levelling accusations of human rights abuses against the other.
Beginning with the late 1980s, the UN’s active involvement in intra-state conflicts grew disproportionately.28 Between 1990 and 1995 the number of intra-state conflicts in the world reached 75, almost twice as many as in the early 1960s.29 Of the several countries where the UN performed peacekeeping functions between 1988 and 1995, only a few experienced purely ‘inter-state peacekeeping’,30 that is, peacekeeping without explicit reference to intra-state conflict.31
When the Cold War drew to a close, the international prescriptions for intra-state peacekeeping reflected, in revolutionary fashion (i.e. instantaneously and with considerable strength), the results of a set of evolutionary normative changes that had occurred over the preceding three decades. The new objectives were less easily identifiable than during the 1960s. While the overarching concern with maintenance of international peace and security remained intact, the principles of state sovereignty and human rights were frequently and prominently invoked in relation to intra-state peacekeeping, suggesting at least a partial shift in the relative balance between the two norms – from a predominantly vertical to a more horizontal relationship.
A brief examination of the rhetoric of Security Council resolutions on UN peacekeeping in the 1990s reveals that the UN’s ‘formalised’ concern with international peace and security had, if anything, increased rather than decreased, contrary to what might have been expected. In the 1960s, SC Resolutions on Lebanon and the Dominican Republic did not even once refer to peace and security. Neither did two of the five resolutions on the Congo. SC Resolution 169 on the Congo made no more than a vague reference to ‘world peace’,32 while the resolution on Yemen simply mentioned a ‘situation which might threaten the peace of the area’.33 In the 1990s, by contrast, crucial peacekeeping resolutions put the emphasis squarely on the maintenance of international peace and security. SC Resolutions 770 (on Bosnia) and 794 (on Somalia) explicitly referred to the threats to ‘international peace and security’,34 while SC Resolutions 929 (on Rwanda) and 940 (on Haiti) made reference to threats to ‘peace and security in the region’.35
More significantly, international actors, in their individual capacity, continued to highlight the objective of the maintenance of international peace and security in the context of intra-state peacekeeping.36 Whether during UN deliberations or in their statements outside of the UN framework, they frequently related the UN peacekeeping mechanism to the achievement of this Charter objective. Yet, whereas maintenance of international peace and security remained the UN’s principal normative objective in intra-state conflicts, the perception of what constituted a threat to peace and security would in the space of three decades undergo substantial change. The emphasis on ‘external threats’, that is, the strong desire to prevent encroachments by colonial powers, superpowers or other foreign powers, was now replaced by an emphasis on a range of less easily identifiable ‘threats’, many of them attributed to non-governmental actors. The threats in question were usually posed in terms of the possible ramifications – in several cases highly contested37 – of domestic upheaval, including gross violations of human rights, humanitarian disasters, and breaches of democratic principles.38
In the relative absence of perceived external threats to international peace and security, international actors’ prescriptions for UN peacekeeping shifted emphasis from ‘protection’ of sovereignty to ‘promotion’ of sovereignty.39 In other words, an implicit distinction between the external and internal dimensions of state sovereignty manifested itself in actors’ normative preferences. The external dimension of state sovereignty was gradually set aside, or at least demoted, and the internal dimension taken up with increasing regularity and enthusiasm. In the process, international insistence on the UN’s ‘respect’ for sovereignty, as embodied in the principle of non-intervention, gradually eroded, or perhaps corroded.
Crucially, the normative shift with respect to sovereignty cannot be adequately understood in isolation from the parallel normative shift that took place on another front, namely human rights and humanitarianism. International players, with non-state actors playing a pioneering role in this regard, increasingly charged UN peacekeeping with the task of protecting and promoting human rights (in particular the basic ‘right to life’), especially in situations where human suffering had overstepped the bounds of tolerance. For the purposes of analytical clarity, we choose to treat these two normative shifts as distinct: mindful, however, that they are closely connected – indeed intertwined – and that one is almost incomprehensible without reference to the other.
In keeping with the shift in international perceptions, particularly with respect to the meaning and content of international peace and security, human rights and humanitarian objectives gained prominence in the 1990s. So did the objective of promoting internal state sovereignty. This dual trend manifested itself in the advocacy of such concepts as free and fair elections, national reconciliation, transitional administration, maintenance of civil peace, repatriation and rehabilitation, distribution of vital matériel, and reconstruction. These concepts have been frequently translated into concrete sets of functions in peacekeeping theatres.40
One useful indicator of the two-pronged normative movement in prescribed objectives was the changing notion of self-determination as witnessed in the context of intra-state peacekeeping. Self-determination, which was a tangential issue for UN peacekeeping in the 1960s, was incorporated into the framework of active UN involvement in intra-state conflicts. In the 1990s, the UN set out to complete the painfully slow processes of self-determination in Namibia and Western Sahara, which had been defined largely in classical terms, that is, by reference to its external dimension.41 The case of the former Yugoslavia, too, partly reflected concerns over self-determination. Equally important was the growing tendency of the international community to define self-determination with reference to its internal aspects. In Cambodia, as we will see in Chapter 8, elections were considered a means for the exercise of the right to self-determination, and UN peacekeeping, through the organisation of elections, a specific instrument for the achievement of that objective.
Security Council resolutions authorising so-called UN ‘humanitarian interventions’ make it plain that UN peacekeeping in the early 1990s reflected an unambiguous concern with human rights and humanitarian purposes.42 These UN-authorised enforcement operations either accompanied or paved the way for other, more ‘peaceful’, UN operations. In August 1992, the Security Council resolved that the situation in Bosnia and Hercegovina constituted a threat to international peace and security, and that the provision of humanitarian assistance was an important element in the Council’s effort to restore international peace and security.43 In Somalia, SC Resolution 794 of 3 December 1992 was the first UN resolution to authorise explicitly a massive military intervention by member states within a country without any invitation from the host-state.44 Moreover, for the first time the Security Council established a clear link between a humanitarian crisis and the use of force to restore international peace and security,45 which had only been ‘implied’ in SC Resolution 688 on Iraq.46 In Rwanda, Operation Turquoise was authorised by the Security Council under Chapter VII47 and was carried out by French (and Senegalese) troops.48 This operation was, in the opinion of the French Government, a strictly humanitarian mission intended to save lives until the arrival of the expanded UN force.49 Human rights and humanitarian concerns, revolving around the basic right to live, and promotion of internal sovereignty were now in a normative sense clearly incorporated into relevant actors’ expectations of the UN’s role (and of UN peacekeeping) in intra-state conflicts.
An examination of other peacekeeping environments in the 1990s – for instance, in Angola and Cambodia – reveals that ‘humanitarian interventions’ were not alone in their emphasis on human rights and humanitarianism. The entire emphasis of the peacekeeping mission in El Salvador, at least in its initial stage, was on verifying ‘the compliance by the parties with the Agreement on Human Rights signed at San José on 26 July 1990’.50 On 19 September 1994, the General Assembly established the Guatemala mission for verifying compliance with the Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights in the country.51 In relation to Mozambique, Boutros-Ghali made it known to the President of the Security Council that he felt ‘strongly that the international community must act quickly and decisively to avert another large-scale humanitarian disaster in Africa’.52 While UN and non-UN humanitarian agencies had been active in intra-state peacekeeping environments all along since the 1960s, humanitarian and human rights functions were not systematically attached to UN peacekeeping missions until the early 1990s.
At this point, it is worth noting that promotion of internal sovereignty and human rights/humanitarianism often emerged as integrated objectives for UN peacekeeping in the 1990s. On several occasions, the UN was called upon to assist in the implementation of peace agreements between internal parties. Such agreements, as in Angola, Cambodia, El Salvador, Liberia, Mozambique, or Rwanda, typically addressed multiple dimensions of the conflict that needed to be monitored, supervised or controlled. Even in the cases of ‘humanitarian intervention’, where overwhelming normative emphasis was placed on the prevention of major humanitarian catastrophes, the wider ‘political’ aspects of a possible peace settlement were not neglected. In Somalia, for instance, one of the Secretary-General’s reports to the Security Council indicated the role played by UNOSOM in relation to the re-establishment of police, judicial and penal systems in the country.53 And in the case of Haiti, the Security Council would authorise a Chapter VII enforcement action, for the first time, with the objective of restoring democratic government in a member state.54 At the same time, concern over socio-economic development began to be raised in several peacekeeping environments. UN peacekeeping was more and more expected to facilitate, if not to undertake, the implementation of UN and non-UN projects related to aspects of socio-economic development in the host countries.55
With the normative emphasis shifting to the promotion of state sovereignty (mainly in its internal aspect) and human rights, the collective expectation that the UN should not intervene in domestic affairs began to change. The standard prescription that the UN should absolutely ‘respect’ the host state’s sovereignty – already weakened during the later stages of the Congo operation – eroded even more. This erosion was evident not only in practice, but also in the diminishing rhetorical insistence on non-intervention. The dilemma then crystallised: in order to promote internal sovereignty, the UN was allowed, indeed expected, to ignore external sovereignty and intervene in a state’s internal affairs.
Although this normative expectation appeared to be in the ascendant in the early 1990s (in the sense that the UN’s overall behaviour in peacekeeping environments accorded with that expectation and not with another), it was by no means a consensual view. Speaking on behalf of China, Qian Qichen would state before the Security Council that:
It is the consistent position of the Chinese Government that a country’s internal affairs should be handled by the people in that country themselves. According to the relevant provisions of the United Nations Charter, the United Nations, including the Security Council, should refrain from involving itself and interfering in the internal affairs of any member state. This principled position of the Chinese Government remains unchanged.56
Whereas China appeared a consistent and heavy-weight opponent of the UN’s intervention in domestic affairs, especially when it came to the use of force to ‘undo domestic wrongs’, other actors tended to support a non-interventionist stance, but on a more selective basis.57 In the case of Haiti, Brazil and Cuba joined China in drawing attention to Haitian sovereignty.58 Brazil, New Zealand, Nigeria and Pakistan abstained in the authorisation of the Rwanda operation. At this unipolar moment, however, most influential governmental actors were located in the West/North and their expectations of the UN had largely converged in the face of mounting advocacy by non-governmental actors. Perhaps more importantly, the western hegemony that had been in the making for some time managed to exert its ideational influence on all players.
The UN’s groundbreaking Namibia mission signified a radical turn in the authority assigned to the UN. Beginning with UNTAG, relevant actors created ever more space in which the UN was expected to exercise authority in all four dimensions. The increasing depth and breadth of the functions that the UN was expected to perform in intra-state peacekeeping environments are well documented in the relevant literature, and do not need further elaboration.59 The synopsis of the literature is that the international community prescribed increasingly broader and deeper functions for the UN in peacekeeping environments. The functions performed ranged from more traditional and limited military tasks (e.g. patrolling a border area) to such complicated arrangements as facilitating ‘national reconciliation’ or setting up a ‘temporary authority’. These latter functions require not only complex networking along the military–civilian and technical–political spectra as detailed in comprehensive peace accords, but also a higher degree of involvement on the UN’s part in ‘domestic affairs’, as exemplified by direct UN responsibility in ‘conducting’ elections.
The erosion of the requirement of consent was perhaps most obvious in those cases where ‘humanitarian interventions’ accompanied peacekeeping efforts. Even in such cases as Angola and Cambodia, where the peacekeeping mission was not primarily in response to exceptional humanitarian circumstances, the principle of consent could be seen to be eroding.60 The erosion of the principle was evident in the international community’s increasing expectation that consent should be extracted from the parties to the conflict on a one-time and comprehensive basis, which would then be considered as a binding arrangement for the duration of the UN presence. In several cases, as in Central America and Mozambique, comprehensive peace plans and agreements created a space for the UN in the settlement of disputes and extracted parties’ consent not only for the initial UN deployment, but also for subsequent UN activities in the field. By carefully placing the peacekeeping mandate on peace accords, international actors increasingly downplayed the requirement of seeking consent at every stage of the operation. In this regard, the Congo and Cambodia missions, as we will see, stood in sharp contrast to one another.
A closely related development involved the assignment of a ‘referee role’ to the UN, which was systematised and frequently grounded in comprehensive peace accords endorsing the organisation’s authority to render judgements on the domestic affairs of host states. In Bosnia, El Salvador, Liberia, Mozambique, Rwanda, Somalia and others, the UN was to varying degrees accorded this referee role in certain aspects of the settlement. In each case, this expectation was translated into practice differently. In Angola, as Chapter 7 will demonstrate, the UN was able to assume a degree of authority through Beye’s chairmanship of the Joint Commission. In Cambodia the UN became a crucial part of the Supreme National Council. Yet in relation to Mozambique, which is ironically a ‘success’ story for the UN, the Secretary-General would complain that the parties were reluctant to entrust the chairmanship of the Supervisory and Monitoring Commission to the UN as an ‘impartial third party’.61
The last dimension of authority, that is, enforcement of decisions, was not immune to change either, although UN coercion, especially its use of force, in intra-state peacekeeping remained a subject of controversy. The ‘humanitarian interventions’ in Haiti and Rwanda were not received with enthusiasm by all actors, most notably China, on the grounds of violation of sovereignty. Bosnia especially illustrates the degree of disagreement between key international actors, among them the United States, Britain and Russia,62 as to how much coercion should be used, where, at what level (strategic, operational, or tactical), and by whom.63 Nevertheless, compared to earlier periods, the UN was expected to enforce Security Council decisions to the best of its material ability. Even key state actors which opposed UN coercion – use of force or sanctions – on a selective basis (e.g. China in Cambodia, Russia in Bosnia, or the United States in Angola) did not go so far as to try and block assertive action. While, on certain occasions, the UN as an actor did not attempt to fulfil its enforcement mandate,64 it did take enforcement measures on other occasions, ranging from imposition of limited-scope sanctions to full-scale military operations.
Over the years, despite the radical change in international perceptions as to what constitutes a ‘threat’ to peace and security, the primary international expectation of the UN in intra-state peacekeeping environments has persisted: maintenance of international peace and security. In the early 1960s, this primary objective was complemented by an emphasis on state sovereignty, which manifested itself in two ways. First, the UN was expected to protect and preserve its members’ sovereignty – largely defined in its external dimension, with reference to political independence and territorial integrity. Secondly, the UN itself was not allowed to act in ways which were deemed to violate sovereignty. In other words, the UN was especially sensitive to upholding the principle of non-intervention. The UN, when it entered an intra-state conflict as peacekeeper, was neither expected nor entitled to assume governmental duties, to work for national (re)conciliation, to push for promotion and protection of human rights, or to seek socio-economic development.
During the 1970s and 1980s, human rights entered the international agenda as political leverage. Third World activities in the search of socioeconomic development continued unabated. These concerns would find their way into 1990s peacekeeping in the formulation of which human rights and, perhaps to a lesser degree, socio-economic development were just as crucial objectives as state sovereignty. In the process, an implicit distinction came into being between the ‘external’ and ‘internal’ dimensions of state sovereignty. Protection of external sovereignty was gradually, though never fully, set aside as an objective, while promotion of internal sovereignty was taken up, which inevitably incorporated human rights and socio-economic concerns. Several new functions were ascribed to the UN in intra-state peacekeeping environments in the early 1990s. Most importantly, the UN, through peacekeeping, was expected to be a direct participant in the political processes of the host country. While such participation took different forms in different cases, it frequently involved temporary control or partial takeover of administrative and political functions.
In the 1960s, a substantial number of actors held that the implementation of peacekeeping mandates required the parties’ continuous de facto consent. This was not only a practical necessity, which it certainly was, but also an emerging, and soon dominant, normative expectation. The consent norm entailed that the parties agree to the initial UN deployment and then continue to evaluate peacekeepers’ individual acts and actions on an individual basis. This might lead to an effective withdrawal of consent as circumstances changed. More importantly, this placed great significance on the parties’ own interpretation of the UN peacekeeping mandate. That norm was largely redefined in the 1990s. It now required the parties to accept the UN mission’s overall mandate as interpreted by the UN. In this environment, the presence and activities of UN peacekeepers were increasingly linked to one-time, long-term and binding consent extracted from the parties to the conflict through comprehensive agreements. Although the parties’ continuous de facto consent was still believed to be essential for the success of UN peacekeeping, their initial formal/legal consent was normatively deemed sufficient to evaluate, indeed ‘judge’, their subsequent compliance with the envisaged peace process.
UN peacekeeping in the 1960s was based on the principle of ‘impartiality’, largely perceived as strict ‘neutrality’. As an outgrowth of this thinking, the UN was not allowed to use coercion except in strict self-defence. In the 1990s, the UN was expected to be more ‘impartial’ than ‘neutral’, in the sense that it was expected to develop certain standards which it applied equally to all parties. This application, however, might well violate the UN’s ‘neutrality’, that is, its obligation not to undertake or permit activities which would assist any party to a conflict. In the Angola and Cambodia cases we will see, for instance, the international expectation of impartiality lead to the weakening of strict neutrality. The actions of all parties were judged by the same ‘impartial’ criteria, or at least such was the expectation, and ‘neutrality’ was eventually set aside in order to punish UNITA and the Khmer Rouge whose actions were repeatedly judged to be in the wrong.65 In addition, while impartiality (and if possible ‘neutrality’) continued to be an important prescription for UN peacekeepers, the parties to the conflict were increasingly expected to commit themselves in advance to accepting both the peacekeepers’ mandate and their future deeds as impartial. According to the emerging consensus, parties to a conflict were expected to accept in advance not only that the UN and its mission were impartial, but also that the UN peacekeepers’ future acts and actions would be impartial.
The UN was also increasingly deemed competent – in normative terms, not necessarily in terms of actual capability – to take vital decisions with respect to intra-state conflicts at hand and any necessary follow-up. The UN was able, for instance, to render judgements as to how the political processes in a host state should proceed before, during and after elections. It was expected and entitled to supervise political campaigns, run state departments, channel humanitarian aid, and even enforce the ‘rules of the game’ that were agreed upon by the intra-state parties to a conflict. If we adhere to Weber’s classical definition of ‘state’, the UN was virtually expected to take the place of the state in certain countries. There were instances where the UN was designated, albeit temporarily, as the agency that could claim ‘a monopoly of legitimate coercive power’ in a given territory. A substantial part of this ‘legitimate’ authority was exercised directly through UN peacekeeping.