The independent resource on global security

1. Multilateral conflict prevention, management and resolution




Multilateral efforts to prevent, manage and resolve conflicts were severely tested in 1993. Successes in Cambodia, Eritrea, Macedonia and El Salvador were overshadowed by failures in Angola, Haiti, Somalia and the former Yugoslavia. The stark realities which Bosnia and Herzegovina had made clear in 1992 were reinforced by the international impotence in the face of multiple challenges: continuing ethnic fratricide in the former Yugoslavia, a disastrous UN peace-enforcement mission in Somalia, a political stand-off in Haiti, ethnic blood-letting in Burundi, civil chaos in Zaire and Tajikistan, and the wholesale resumption of war in Afghanistan and Angola. UN endeavours reached new levels of intensity and complexity, but the world body confronted political, managerial and logistical difficulties for which it was ill-prepared by the euphoria of the immediate post-cold war years. The United Nations began a long process of reform and restructuring, while regional organizations struggled to share some of the burden.

Multilateral organizations such as the European Union (EU) and the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE) fared no better than the UN in relation to the former Yugoslavia and were only marginally more effective in other European conflicts: Georgia was besieged on two fronts, while the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict raged on unabated.

The year's major peace-making achievement--between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)--emerged not from the UN or another formal multilateral organization but from the secret good offices of a single country, Norway, building on the efforts of an ad hoc negotiation forum, the International Conference on the Middle East, initiated largely by the USA.

The transition of South Africa towards majority rule and tentative moves towards peace in Northern Ireland, meanwhile, were almost exclusively the work of the parties involved, rather than the result of international efforts.

The UN began reforming its own capacities and procedures, despite rising expectations and worsening penury. Preventive diplomacy came into vogue not just at the UN but in regional organizations, most notably the CSCE and the Organization of African Unity (OAU). The CSCE and NATO began serious examination of their roles in future peacekeeping operations.


Appendix 1A. International observer and peacekeeping operations, 1993


Appendix 1A is a table of international observer and peace-keeping operations in 1993.


Appendix 1B. Case studies on peacekeeping: UNOSOM II, UNTAC and UNPROFOR



The UN Operation in Somalia (UNOSOM II), established in May 1993, was the first explicitly authorized UN peace-enforcement mission since that in the Congo in the early 1960s. The troubled outcome of the Somalia mission caused a rethinking of the feasibility of UN peace enforcement in a civil war.

The UN operation in Cambodia, carried out by the UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC), was at the time the UN's largest, most ambitious and most expensive operation. Although it did not entirely extinguish the Cambodian civil war, it de-escalated and de-internationalized it, politically isolating the Khmer Rouge and permitting the Cambodian people to choose their government in a comparatively free, fair and democratic manner.

In the former Yugoslavia, the UN Protection Force (UNPROFOR) was established in early 1992 as an interim measure to create the conditions of peace and security required for the EC-initiated negotiation of an overall settlement of the crisis. The operation evolved into a traditional disengagement mission in Croatia, a humanitarian support mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and a small observation mission in Macedonia. While UNPROFOR's tasks multiplied, mainly in response to the rapidly deteriorating situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the resources at its disposal lagged behind and the political process on which it relied for authority and direction all but disintegrated. Developments in 1993 reflected this discrepancy of resolve between the UN forces on the ground and their national and international political leaderships.