Wednesday, June 18, 2008

"United Nations Emergency Peace Service: One Step Toward Effective Genocide Prevention"

The United Nations is repeatedly criticized for the inefficiency of its peacekeeping missions. In response to this problem, some experts propose the creation of a United Nations Emergency Peace Service (UNEPS). This standing force with first-response capability would fill the void between outbreaks of violence and full deployment of a traditional peacekeeping mission. At a forum sponsored by Partnerships for Effective Peacekeeping (PEP), Don Kraus of Citizens for Global Solutions presented the envisioned structure of UNEPS and argued that it is in the best interest of the United States to support this initiative. Dr. Robert Zuber, UNEPS Secretariat, and Mark Malan of Refugees International/PEP also discussed their opinions.

UNEPS would be a standing organization with the ability to deploy within 48 hours of notification. Its individually recruited personnel and staff would encompass a wide range of skills, from emergency medical relief to conflict resolution to peacekeeping. Mr. Kraus emphasized that UNEPS would compliment traditional UN missions rather than replace them.

For the United States, UNEPS will provide a means by which we can meet our goals of preventing genocide and other mass atrocities. Partnership with the UNEPS will enable the US to fulfill our commitments without assuming the full financial and military burden. Mr. Kraus argued that a U.N. mission would be more efficient and cost-effective than a U.S.-sponsored mission. At the same time, the United States has the necessary veto power within the U.N to prevent mission deployments that are not within its strategic interest. Although the cost to establish this force will be quite high, it is a preventative measure that will prevent costlier, deadlier conflicts in the future.

The forum also included updates on other UN-related issues. Among others, Erin Weir of Refugees International/PEP spoke about the possibility of a UN peace operation in Somalia. Given the lack of political will in the UN to send a strong peacekeeping force, it seems that negotiating a ceasefire is the only feasible option for peace in this country. Ms. Weir encouraged caution and reason when approaching solutions for Somalia, because many Somalis are distrustful of the United Nations and the international community as a whole. Therefore, any outside peacekeeping effort, especially military force, will spark opposition.

Mr. Kraus, Dr. Zuber, and Mr. Malan all presented convincing arguments in favor of an Emergency Peace Service. Although UNEPS is still in the proposal stage, it represents a step forward in the quest to provide effective and timely international assistance during humanitarian emergencies.

Further reading:

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Sponsor: Partnership for Effective Peacekeeping
Date: May 27, 2008
Time: 3:30 – 5:30 pm
Representative Attending: Kate Lonergan

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