The International Spectator

Volume XLI, No. 3 (July - September 2006)

IAI Library Notes

Peacekeeping and the use of force

Major powers and peacekeeping : perspectives, priorities and the challenges of military intervention / edited by Rachel E. Utley. - Aldershot ; Burlington : Ashgate, c2006. - ix, 182 p. - ISBN 0-7546-4033-7

A very good job has been done in ensuring the consistency of the contributions to this volume which analyses the attitude of the major powers to peacekeeping activities. The kinds of interventions considered range from traditional activity managed by the UN under Chapter VI of the Charter (characterised by the consensus of the parties to the conflict, the impartiality of the peacekeepers and the use of force only in self-defence) to activities that fall under Chapter VII involving a more robust mandate, up to the current interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The analyses concentrate on the period that stretches from the early nineties to the present, and view the interventions in the Balkans as the start of a clear change in the attitude of the major powers, whether members of the UN Security Council (US, Russia, Great Britain, France and China) or aspirants to that role (Germany and Japan). There seems to be a clear trend towards a gradual falling off of the UN's peacekeeping activity in favour of increasingly "muscular" missions of "coalitions of the willing" carried out ever more frequently outside of the UN framework or - at the most - partially legitimated by the UN a posteriori.

In the first part of the book, the authors analyse the major powers' policy towards the military aspects of peacekeeping. The first two chapters are dedicated, respectively, to the United States and Russia: they describe the way in which the choices of the last three US administrations (Bush Sr., Clinton and Bush, Jr) have been strongly conditioned by national interests - a characteristic also common to the policy pursued by Russia regionally. The next two chapters examine the positions of three European countries: the uniqueness of the peacekeeping approach (which derives from the historic experience of counter-insurgency) is highlighted in the case of Great Britain, even if this uniqueness is invalidated by the tendency - common also to the other European countries considered - to prefer to act within the NATO framework. It then goes on to look at the positions of France and Germany, pointing out how the participation of both in peace operations has always been aimed at maximising their international influence, especially in the UN. In the case of Germany and Japan, whose positions are analysed in the subsequent chapter devoted also to China, attention is given to the importance of constitutional and domestic policy constraints on the development of participation in peacekeeping activities.

In the second part of the book, analysis turns to the practice of peacekeeping in some regional theatres: Africa, Asia (with the cases of Afghanistan, Cambodia and East Timor) and finally the Middle East. The last chapter is dedicated to the complex relationship between peacekeepers and the media and the increasing attention that the military is devoting to the media coverage of peacekeeping operations. The reality of growing control and manipulation of the media makes the so-called "CNN effect" (that is, that media coverage of a crisis induces the international community to intervene) a "myth".

In conclusion, the editor considers an about-turn in the current decline in UN activity improbable: the major powers' withdrawal from UN missions has been accompanied by the tendency to participate in nation-building, activities that have less and less to do with the practice of peacekeeping as elaborated by the United Nations over the decades.

Twisting arms and flexing muscles : humanitarian intervention and peacebuilding in perspective / edited by Natalie Mychajlyszyn and Timothy M. Shaw. - Aldershot ; Burlington : Ashgate, c2005. - x, 151 p. (The international political economy of new regionalisms series) - ISBN 0-7546-1671-1

This book presents the proceedings of a seminar organised in Ottawa on 14-15 October 1999 by the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs of Carleton University. The active involvement of Canadian NGOs and military in humanitarian interventions in Africa and the Balkans drove the authors to ponder some of the questions put forward by the controversial nature of the practice and concept of humanitarian intervention: on what conditions is violation of the twin principles of sovereignty and non-intervention acceptable, whatever the nature of the humanitarian crisis; and finally, why are some interventions more effective than others?

The first chapter presents the theoretical debate that has led to the normative and legal context for the practice of humanitarian intervention, components of which are currently multilateralism, state sovereignty conditional on respect for human rights, and a weakening of the legal prohibition on intervention. The authors feels that these normative components are only temporary in that they have been developed during a period of "unilateral and self-interested interventions" and can be considered the product of a particular international conjuncture.

In the three chapters that follow, the authors apply different models to the analysis of humanitarian intervention in various regional crises (Africa, the Balkans and Sri Lanka). The cases of Angola and Sierra Leone are described to underline the complexity of the political economy of conflicts and the difficulties in intervening when the crises have become functional to the existence of a growing number of private security actors (militias and mafias). The international community's difficulty in predicting the evolution of the conflict also emerges in the next two essays which analyse two cases of "third-party peace-building" (Opration Turquoise in Rwanda and Rescue Mission in Zaire) and two cases of "biased intervention" (NATO intervention in Kosovo and Indian intervention in Sri Lanka).

The last two chapters deal with the difficult relations between the military and NGOs in peacekeeping activities. Analysis starts out from two concrete experiences involving Canadian civilians and military in Bosnia (a project carried out by the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre in 1997-98) and the activity of the Canadian military contingent under NATO command.

The changing rules on the use of force in international law / Tarcisio Gazzini. - Manchester : Manchester University Press ; New York : Juris Publishing, 2005. - xiii, 266 p. (Melland Schill studies in international law).- ISBN 0-7190-7324-3; ISBN 0-7190-7325-1 (pbk)

The collective security system provided for by the UN Charter is used in this book as a paradigm for analysis of recent practice in the use of force by states. The author underlines that this system, which is anything but static, is the outcome of the continuous development of the international community's needs. According to the author, this process (which takes place when the requests of some states are accepted by the majority) has had a much greater effect on the regulation of the use of force than any other part of international law: fundamental questions such as the role and the prerogatives of the Security Council and the admissibility of preventive self-defence have been thrown into question by the current practice of humanitarian intervention and the repression of international terrorism.

The first part of the book is dedicated to the collective use of force. After a brief description of the collective security system, and in particular the powers and limits of the UN Security Council, attention concentrates on its functioning since 1989. The author observes how the procedure for the SC's authorisation of the use of force has asserted itself, with the consequent emergence of a customary norm that de facto constitutes an informal change in the UN Charter. The routine practice of authorisation (defined as "a minimalist version of the collective security system") has produced a permissive effect leading to its being by-passed on various occasions. The third chapter illustrates some cases of controversial operations (no-fly zones in Iraq from 1991 to 1999, interventions in Liberia, Bosnia and Sierra Leone). The interventions in Kosovo and Afghanistan and the invasion of Iraq are quoted as exemplary cases in which the intervenor states did not consider SC authorisation as a legal prerequisite for intervention but only as a matter of political convenience, coming up against the opposition of the majority of countries. In this connection, the author concludes that "If the claim eventually succeeds, it would not amount to a further downgrading of the collective security system; it would mean its abandonment altogether".

The second part of the volume analyses the recourse to the use of force on the part of individual states. The author observes that the prohibition on the use of force (present in both the UN Charter and in customary law) has undergone constant change but continues to exist as such. In order to define that prohibition and to verify whether it is still valid, the author analyses the exceptions to the general prohibition that have arisen. In particular, the limits and conditions for the use of force exercised on the basis of the main exception to the general prohibition, that is in the case of self-defence. The author observes that, in practice, states have invoked the right to use force in self-defence regardless of the existence of a threshold under which that right cannot be exercised. He also looks at other exceptions, such as the use of force to save nationals abroad, a practice commonly accepted by the majority of countries, unlike the practice of humanitarian intervention (on which countries are strongly divided).

A separate chapter is dedicated to the fight against international terrorism and against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The author notes that the debate on recourse to the use of force to combat terrorism and WMD is strongly conditioned by the re-emergence of the notion of preventive self-defence. In his opinion, very few states approve of the road undertaken - wholly unilaterally - by the United States with its recourse to the massive use of force to eliminate potential threats. In fact, the trend is viewed with great concern: "This conduct is not dictated by the need to adapt the notion of self-defence to the new challenges. It is rather the negation of the notion itself and would provoke the implosion of the whole legal regulation on the use of force".

United Nations law and the Security Council / Max Hilaire. - Aldershot ; Burlington : Ashgate, c2005. - ix, 333 p. - ISBN 0-7546-4489-8

An exhaustive and critical examination of the application of UN law to the decision-making process of the Security Council, above all in response to ethnic conflicts and regional crises in the period following the end of the Cold War.

After a brief introduction to the powers of the Security Council and UN legislation on the maintenance of international peace, the author looks at the development of the practice of peacekeeping since the early nineties. Analysis then turns to the peacekeeping operations of the following period (Somalia, Yugoslavia, Haiti and Rwanda), characterised by the Security Council's new strategy to delegate to states or international organisations the authority to manage what the author defines as "a new generation of conflicts". The problematic relations between the SC and regional organisations is then thoroughly described by analysing the cases of Sierra Leone and Kosovo. After a short analysis of the use of non-military enforcement measures to manage minor regional conflicts, the author's attention concentrates on the role of the SC in managing some inter-state conflicts (from the Korean War in 1950 to the invasion of Iraq in 2003). In this chapter, in order to highlight the problems posed by the emergence of security actors that consider themselves "alternative" to the UN system, a short description of each conflict is followed by a list of the main legal questions it raised. Finally, the author describes some cases of the application of non-military sanctions (economic sanctions and arms embargoes).

Le problematiche giuridiche relative alle Forze armate impiegate all'estero / a cura di Giulio Bartolini. - Roma : Centro militare di studi strategici, c2005. - 263 p. (Collana del "Centro Militare di Studi Strategici" serie blu ; 131)

The study provides an exhaustive picture of the legal status of Italian troops involved in missions abroad. Dividing the missions on the basis of their deployment context, the author focuses analysis on the agreements entered into with the hosting countries, SOFAs (Status of Force Agreements). These agreements constitute the main source of norms regulating the status of the members of the armed forces operating on foreign soil and define their duties and privileges.

The first missions examines are those conducted by the UN. Here practice has developed over the years and has led to the formulation of two "model" agreements that regulate terms between the UN and the contributing state, on the one hand, and between the UN contingent and the hosting state, on the other. Even though the context of UN-led missions is well defined, some of them (such as in Somalia and Bosnia) brought to light some of the legal problems involved in operations in states that do not collaborate or in situations of institutional collapse. The author does not delve further into this point: participation in UN-led missions is out of date, the current practice is military coercion or peace-enforcement operations conducted outside the UN system.

These operations are analysed in the second chapter which deals with multinational missions conducted by coalitions of the willing, missions for which the Security Council has authorised states or groups of states coordinated in a regional defence organisation (described among those in which Italian contingents have participated are IFOR, SFOR, "Alba", KFOR, INTERFET, ISAF) to act or which are completely outside the UN sphere (MFO in the Sinai). The author underlines that the legal framework of these operations is much more complex and often calls for the stipulation of integrative agreements with the hosting state. Furthermore, he observes that the SOFAs drawn up for these missions (generally operational in states involved in conflicts), unlike those drawn up between "equal bargaining position", tend to be strongly favourable to the military involved in the missions to the detriment of local legal authorities.

This kind of agreement is the focus of the next chapter, dedicated to the status of the personnel deployed in the NATO, WEU and EU spheres. In the case of NATO, the status is largely codified, while in the case of the WEU and the EU, the legal frame of reference still has gaps both with respect to NATO and with respect to other EU member states. Finally, a description follows of the legal status of the personnel deployed in European multinational corps, in bilateral activities and to foreign diplomatic seats.

A separate section is devoted to the application of international humanitarian law by troops abroad and to the choice of the military code to be applied. For the first time, the 1941 penal military code of war is being applied to Italian troops deployed in Afghanistan - a code that was amended in 2002 but is still inadequate.


Europeanization and conflict resolution : case studies from the European periphery / Bruno Coppieters ... [et al.]. - Gent : Academia Press, 2004. - 258 p. - ISBN 90-382-0648-8

This book is the final output of a research project carried out in 2003-04 by the Free University of Brussels and the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) and was also published by the online Journal on Ethnopolitics and Minority Issues in Europe. The authors analyse some secessionist conflicts under way in Europe's periphery and reflect on what European policies can trigger institutional transformations that are functional to resolving the crisis. Such mechanisms of institutional change can be influenced directly by integration policies ("conditionality") but can also stem simply from the interiorisation of European practices and "values" ("socialisation").

The book is made up of an initial theoretical part in which the concepts subsuming the research are presented, four chapters dedicated to analysis of case studies, and a final chapter that presents some elements deriving from the comparison of the cases.

The four cases analysed (Cyprus, Serbia and Montenegro, Moldova and Transnistria, Georgia and Abkhazia) are all conflicts in which both actors are state entities recognised as "de facto states" (the study does not consider conflicts in which a central government is opposed by secessionist movements operating outside of the state structure). The history of each of the conflicts examined is briefly summarised. This is followed by an analysis of the impact of each on European policies - in particular those of the EU. The volume closes with some speculation on possible developments.

The pressure of Europeanisation : from post-communist state administrations to normal players in the EU system / Barbara Lippert, Gaby Umbach. - Baden-Baden : Nomos, 2005. - 203 p. (Europische Schriften ; 82). - ISBN 3-8329-1230-4

The concept of Europeanisation is central to this book, the result of a study carried out by the Institut fr Europische Politik of Berlin and the Jean Monnet Chair for Political Science of the University of Cologne. The object of analysis is the specific impact that EU membership has had on the structure of the national political system and, in particular, the public administration, in five countries (Hungary, Czech Republic, Poland, Estonia and Slovenia). The study concentrates on certain aspects of the process of institutional adaptation: a) the different intensity (and modalities) of the pressure exerted by the EU on these countries, first during their accession process and then as member states; b) the different reactions to the "uniform" pressure of the EU in the individual states, with their divergent administrative traditions and political specificities; c) the developments that characterise the continuation of the process of consolidation after entry into the EU. The study's conclusions show that the EU is more of a "demand-oriented assistant" than an "active decision-maker or exporter of an EU-compatible ideal type of administrative model". The specific capabilities of the new member states therefore seem to be decisive in their transition towards being normal players in the EU system.