Doves with eagle eyes

International Peacekeeping:
February 24, 1995

Is the level of international strife diminishing while the levels of intranational violence are rising? Within national boundaries can we differentiate categorically between armed political conflict - once called unequivocally civil war - and large-scale criminal activities? Are terrorist-related crimes and drug trafficking on a grand scale likely to outstrip the power of national police forces and require international peacekeeping?

The act of deploying the armed forces of one or more nations in response to the invitation of a responsible government, or non-governmental body, in order to enter a territory for the purpose of maintaining, restoring or observing "peace" is a hideously complicated matter, and becoming more so. We need to know more about these problems to improve the international response.

A. B. Fetherston's article in the first number of International Peacekeeping, "Putting the peace back into peacekeeping", gives a strong indication of the journal's coverage. We are reminded that in the 40 years since 1948, 13 United Nations "peacekeeping operations" were completed or were ongoing in 1988. Since 1988, a further 21 operations have been mounted, though four of these might not qualify as such.

Also covered are bilateral peacekeeping operations, whatever their political motives, such as described in "The Indian peacekeeping force in Sri Lanka" by Alan Bullion, in the summer 1994 number. The article highlights the difficulties of maintaining impartiality when regional or global politics become central, and the armed forces involved exceed that of the use of "minimum force", an ambiguous concept at the best of times.

The editors and authors in the first volume have identified a number of problems, both historical and current, in an attempt to find theories underlying the actions of politicians and the military. These include military observers (armed for their own protection), the international and the "on-the-spot" political-military interface, the military mechanisms of command, control, communications and intelligence, and the problem of who has the authority to interpret the rules of engagement - the politician, the general or the corporal who is being shot at by those he is "protecting".

If these problems are rehearsed often enough by academic observers and explained to politicians and military practitioners, then International Peacekeeping will serve a good purpose.

It is encouraging that this journal should come from a United Kingdom imprint and yet be aimed at an international readership with international contributors. Britain's armed forces have much experience in peacekeeping operations and a good reputation compared with most other national forces. The pre-eminence of political constraints on the military and the responsible culture of Britain's armed forces mark this country as a world leader in the field.

A suggestion: nowadays 80 per cent of Sandhurst entrants are university graduates. Serving officers should be encouraged to contribute to the journal their first-hand comments and insights to complement the academic contributions.

Patrick Mileham is a lecturer, University of Paisley.

International Peacekeeping:: Volume One

Editor - Michael Pugh
ISBN - ISSN 1353 3312
Publisher - Frank Cass
Price - £35.00 (indiv.), £90.00 (inst.)

Please login or register to read this article

Register to continue

Get a month's unlimited access to THE content online. Just register and complete your career summary.

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments