When the Security Council is confronted with a problem that can represent a threat for international peace and safety, it must first try to resolve the problem peacefully.
Peacekeeping missions allow the Security Council to watch over the cease-fire and participate in the creation of conditions for peace.
On a few rare occasions, die Security Council has authorized member States to use all the necessary means to keep the peace, including collective military action.
General Indar Jit Rktye, the former president of the International Peace Academy who participated in several peacekeeping missions, defines peace keeping as being, ‘the prevention, limitation, moderation and cessation of hostilities between or within States due to the intervention of a third party, which is organized and directed at the international level and which cal Is upon military, police and civilian personnel to restorer peace.’
The first UN mission began in 1948 in Palestine and is still in place. It was baptised UNTSO, the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization in Palestine. The missions have changed considerably since then. Indeed, UNTSO was only made up of observers mandated to observe whether the truce was obeyed or not.
The first United Nations Emergency Force, was set up during the Suez Canal crisis in 1956. It was the start of peacekeeping missions supported by military, police and civilian contingents.
Since the end of the Cold War, peacekeeping has undergone a new change. The operations now occur more and more often within one country. There are several reasons behind this. First of all, due to a greater access to information, international public opinion and governments are more aware of what is happening in a country than in the past.
Now, when images of extraordinary violence reach us, we no longer accept that such conflicts occur in a single country.
The other reason comes from the establishment by former colonial powers of State models in countries that had no tradition of this kind.
Totally arbitrary borders were laid down, bringing together different ethnic groups, some of which were able to impose their will on others due to their number and education. We can no longer allow the powers that be of a State to dictate to other minorities.
We must establish or impose peace so as to stop belligerents from committing greater massacres. However, this demands a stronger, more interventionist approach in defiance of State sovereignty and the principle of non-interference.
To accomplish this, peacekeeping missions must have greater capabilities. They must be able to rebuild, disarm supervise elections and ensure that human rights are respected. Intervening is no longer enough. After such missions democratic institutions that have never existed or that were destroyed must be rebuilt and be capable of ensuring equal rights for all citizens.
It may be very difficult to establish a durable peace if justice ha s mot first been obtained. There is often no judicial apparatus left in a country coming out of a conflict. The UN, is therefore, working to equip itself with the effective institutions needed to fi11 the institutional void in countries that are rebuilding after a conflict.