- APPA Intern / Daniel Hong
The Impact of UN’s Peacekeeping Missions: Liberia, Afghanistan, and Bosnia
Since it was founded in 1945, the United Nations (UN) has acted as a crucial helping hand in resolving a diverse variety of problems across the world. With its ultimate purpose of preserving peace and security across the world and ensuring that every human being has access to free and equal rights, the UN seeks to improve relations between nations in order to resolve international issues. As of today, this international organization has helped end conflicts and install reconciliation efforts in a large number of countries, among those including Liberia, Afghanistan, and Bosnia. Through social, military, and political interference, the UN has provided vital aid to these nations during times of immense struggle. Thus, as stated by Ban Ki-moon, the eighth UN Secretary-General, “Together we can build a world we want, a world we’re proud to leave our children and grandchildren.”
On December 1989, a conflict in Liberia, a country located along the West African coast, that came to be known as the First Liberian Civil War, took off. Samuel Doe, who was the nation’s president at the time for nearly a decade, was placed in a difficult position when the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), controlled by Charles Taylor, led a rebellion to kick him out of office. In just a few months, Taylor’s troops had assumed control of nearly ninety percent of all of the country’s territory and were inching towards Monrovia, Liberia’s capital. Put into a precarious position, the Liberian government urgently requested for the UN to intervene in June 1990. Though the Security Council did not become fully involved until January of the next year, the UN still supported the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in its efforts to put an end to this civil war at this point. In addition, in 1992, the Secretary-General appointed a Special Representative to take part in talks between ECOWAS and the parties in conflict at the time.
In 1993, the ECOWAS arranged a peace agreement in Cotonou, Berlin. In response, under Security Council Resolution 866, the Security Council organized the United Nations Observer Mission in Liberia (UNOMIL). The UNOMIL’s mission was to fully support ECOMOG in properly implementing the peace agreement made in the Cotonou, particularly regarding ensuring the complete compliance of all involved parties. The UNOMIL was the first UN peacekeeping mission that was undertaken alongside a separate organization's operation focused on peacekeeping. In July 1997, the UN succeeded in observing the conduct of the elections, which concluded with Taylor elected President. Thus, the UNOMIL’s most emphasized objective was achieved with this election. By 2003, though, the rebel groups involved in the Second Liberian Civil War had caused Taylor’s reach of power to decrease to not even a majority of the country.
In December 2001, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) was mandated by the United Nations, whose objectives were to rebuild government security throughout the country and crack down on terrorism by training the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). The force was also involved with the 2001 - present war with the Taliban insurgency, where they were able to launch more than 2,600 attacks that resulted in the prevention of more than 1,700 operations. Initially, the extent of the operation reached only Kabul and its surrounding areas. Despite the added security, the British government assigned limited roles, such as patrolling and local peacekeeping. The British initially took charge of the situation for 3 months but handed the task over to Turkey, then to Dutch-German. This exchange was mainly due to the reluctance of NATO to take on such a potentially open-ended result while stationed in Afghanistan. In 2002, ultimately, the Afghanistan government formally requested for the establishment of an organization to lay the foundations for peace and development to occur. Thus, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) was implemented into the country.
The ISAF eventually expanded to the entire country in 2006. From here, the ISAF conducted more rigorous combat operations including advanced air and ground techniques in order to fully minimize the total casualties of Afghan civilians. Among the contributing nations, United States troops faced the most casualties from hostile action due to being assigned the southern region of Afghanistan, where many conflicts were held. Despite this, according to Robert Gates, a previous U.S. Secretary of Defense, “more than 850 troops from non-U.S. NATO members have made the ultimate sacrifice in Afghanistan… these were the first military casualties [many allied nations] have taken since the end of the Second World War.” In December 2014, ISAF discontinued its operations and ultimately disbanded. After the end of the ISAF mission, a smaller non-combat operation, Resolute Support, started on January 1, 2015. The goals of the mission were to provide further assistance to institutions and security forces in Afghan. Though deployed to secure the Kabul area at first, the operation became NATO’s biggest challenge and one of the largest coalitions to date.
Following the Dayton Peace Agreement in late 1995, the Implementation Force (IFOR) was created to protect the Inter-Entity Boundary Line between Republika Srpska and the Croat-Muslim Federation. The IFOR also oversaw military forces and administered a disarmament program, which demanded an arms ratio of 2:1 between the Bosnian government and Republika Srpska. Major tasks included separating armed forces and maintaining the ceasefire throughout the country. At the time, Bosnia faced countless murders and genocides alongside major ethnic cleansing and concentration camps, which resulted in the verge of destruction for the country.
In mid-1996, the IFOR was able to dismantle three raging factions of Bosnia who had been conflicting for over four years. For this to occur, a total of 36 nations advanced through the country during one of the worst Balkan winters of all time to separate the ongoing faction dispute, while at the same time, establishing the Zone of Separation and depositing weapons in cantonment sites. This resulted in such a great success that more than 230,000 displaced persons and refugees were able to return home safely and allowed for the gradual recovery of Bosnia’s 42-month war. As a result, the IFOR was disbanded on December 20, 1996, to incorporate the subsequent step: the stabilization phase of the operation. Thus, the Stabilisation Force (SFOR) was created to ensure the continuation of a secure environment alongside the implementation of greater civil conducts to reach forward to the vision of the Dayton Peace Agreement and establish nationwide peace without the use of NATO-led military forces as of today.
Through the implementation of various sub-organizations of the United Nations, such as UNOMIL in Liberia, UNAMA in Afghanistan, and IFOR in Bosnia, many countries were able to be granted a passage closer to the basic rights of peace and security. In Liberia, UNOMIL was able to reelect the president of the nation. In Afghanistan, UNAMA is enhancing human rights and promoting good governance through support from other countries. In Bosnia, IFOR saved the country from a near 4-year war that could have had massive casualties. Evidently, the United Nations has prioritized protecting nations worldwide in order to make the world a better place in obtaining peace and providing the means for development.