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Peacekeeping. One consequence of the end of the Cold War and the demise of the Soviet Union was a burst of joint efforts aimed at resolving armed conflicts. Between 1990 and 1994, fifteen international peacekeeping operations were initiated through the United Nations. At their peak in 1994, there were over twenty such active operations.

Modern peacekeeping efforts began with the League of Nations, which employed military forces twice in Germany, in Upper Silesia (1921) and in the Saar (1935). One of the first UN efforts was the United Nations Special Committee on the Balkans (UNSCOB). Emphasizing fact finding and mediation, it also employed “peace observation,” with military observers who reported on the conflict to the General Assembly. The first mission employing more than a few military personnel was the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), operating in the Middle East since 1948.

Early UN operations received such descriptive labels as peace observation and truce supervision. The term peacekeeping was coined by Canadian prime minister Lester Pearson for the United Nations Emergency Force deployed in the Middle East after the 1956 Arab‐Israeli War. It was developed to distinguish this larger operation (which deployed 3,600 personnel in military units) from individual observer missions such as UNTSO.

In the early 1960s, the controversial United Nations Operation in the Congo (ONUC), an unprecedentedly large operation, strained the “peacekeeping” concept and the strength of the United Nations. In part as a result, peacekeeping operations underwent a period of retrenchment until the late 1980s. One exception was the 1981 start of the U.S.‐manned Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) in the Sinai, the product of the Camp David Accords. Despite its non‐UN origins, it serves as an example of a “chapter six” of the UN Charter, featuring military forces—with the consent of belligerents—monitoring the implementation of an established truce.

In the late 1980s, the member states, through the United Nations, started a new series of peacekeeping operations. Many of these missions (particularly in Namibia and Cambodia) were very complex, and covered activities ranging from civilian police through election administration and refugee resettlement.

In the 1990s, operations were undertaken in which the central tenets of “classic” peacekeeping (consent by all parties and the restricted use of force by peacekeepers) no longer seemed appropriate. These operations, including the UN and U.S. military involvement in Somalia and the former Yugoslavia, were mounted in the face of ongoing conflicts. The terms peace enforcement, “muscular” peacekeeping, and “chapter seven” operations reflect U.S. political and military concerns, and imply more aggressive ideas about the use of force. The American domestic debate over such a U.S. role has generated a new dynamic: as operations (rightly or wrongly) were judged failures in domestic debate, new labels were invented to distance new missions from past failures. Operation Joint Endeavor, begun in 1995 in the former Yugoslavia, was called a “peace implementation” mission, not because its tasks are unique but because the mission had to be differentiated from past efforts. The frequently changing labels applied to these operations reflect the lack of consensus within the United States about how to—and indeed whether to—conduct such operations.
[See also Bosnian Crisis: Civil‐Military Relations; Middle East, U.S. Military Involvement in the.]


David W. Wainhouse , International Peacekeeping at the Crossroads: National Support—Experience and Prospects, 1973.
David W. Wainhouse , International Peace Observation: A History and Forecast, 1986.
Paul F. Diehl , International Peacekeeping, 1993.
William J. Durch, ed., The Evolution of UN Peacekeeping: Case Studies and Comparative Analysis, 1993.
David R. Segal and and Mady W. Segal , Peacekeepers and Their Wives: American Participation in the Multinational Force and Observers, 1993.
Barbara Benton , Soldiers for Peace: Fifty Years of United Nations Peacekeeping, 1996.
Andrew J. Goodpaster , When Diplomacy Is Not Enough: Managing Multinational Military Interventions, 1996.
William J. Durch, ed., Peacekeeping, American Politics and the Uncivil Wars of the 1990s, 1996.
United Nations Department of Public Information , The Blue Helmets: A Review of United Nations Peace‐keeping, 3rd ed. 1997.

Dana Eyre

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