Thursday, December 14, 2006

Beyond Politics: Prospects and Problems with International Peacekeeping

Event Title: Beyond Politics: Prospects and Problems with International Peacekeeping
Sponsors: The Atlantic Council of the United States and UNA-NCA
Location: The Atlantic Council
Date: October 26, 2006
Time: 3:00 PM – 4:30 PM
Approximate number of Attendees: 25
Intern Attending: Ashley Smith

Featured Speakers: Lieutenant Colonel Chuck Wilson, Strategic Studies Institute, US Army War College; Peter Gantz, Refugees International

The speakers began by giving an overview of NATO’s current deployments. Currently, NATO has 44,000 troops deployed worldwide. Two regions where there is a particularly strong NATO presence are the Balkans and Afghanistan. NATO has been working in the Balkans since 1995 and 13,000 NATO troops are stationed there today. In Afghanistan, NATO has been working in and around Kabul. Here they have set up Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) which have been working to bring together national and international communities in hopes of creating a sustainable peace. NATO is also currently in Iraq, where it focuses exclusively on peace building. Its role there is to train forces, including the Iraqi Defense Academy forces and the Iraqi government forces. NATO has also been doing work in Pakistan to aid in earthquake relief.

A positive aspect of NATOs efforts is that they seek to work with multiple regional partners, rather than relying solely on the support of large entities, such as the European Union. They refer to this multilateralism as pushing for “the big P’s”, Partners for Peace. NATO sees this as a way to incorporate capabilities that it does not have itself, including working with global security exporters. One challenge NATO faces is the “institutional rice bowl dilemma”. Which countries should receive credit for NATO successes? Participant countries need to realize that this is not relevant. Another issue is the fact that NATO provides purely kinetic solutions to problems through their use of force. Should the military be trained in other areas, like diplomacy? Or should others be given military training? Who would be responsible for that?

This question leads to the additional dilemma of burden-sharing within peacekeeping operations. There is sometimes a reluctance to donate troops or funding, and there tends to be a heavy reliance on European giving. Lack of funding is currently threatening the survival of UNIFIL, the United Nations mission in Lebanon. In any peacekeeping mission, coordination is essential to success, as evidenced by Haiti. In Haiti, three different international donors are working on peacekeeping. The U.S. government-backed mission successfully set up a Haitian police force. However, due to a lack of infrastructure in the Haitian prison and court systems, the overall efficacy was diminished.

Peacekeeping is often a key component in ensuring sustainable peace in conflict-prone areas. While reform may be necessary for both NATO and the UN, these institutions will continue to play essential roles in the global peace process.

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