Why Do Authoritarian Regimes Make Their Armies Readily Available to Participate in International Peacekeeping?
By Alem Mamo
“Peace is not merely the absence of war but the presence of justice, of law, of order – in generalof government.” —Albert Einstein
When the first United Nations Peacekeeping force was proposed by the Canadian Foreign Minister Lester B. Pearson in 1956 in response to the Suez Crisis the idea was received with a mixed reaction in the international diplomatic and policy circles. Some welcomed it as a ground breaking and watershed moment for global peace and securitywhile others viewed it as a strange and impossible idea to build consensus from all member states. Whatever the initial reaction, establishing an international peacekeeping force eventually won the support of the majority, and Lester B. Pearson who subsequently became the Prime Minister of Canada won a Noble Peace Prize for his contribution in proposing and designing and building consensus to the establishment of UN peacekeeping force.
Since its founding UN Peacekeeping has come a long way in scope, mandate, mission and size. The traditional peacekeeping force contributors, such as Canada, have significantly reduced their participation to peacekeeping and moved into combat and combat related missions, creating a gap in troop contribution. As a result, nations from the global south are filling this void. This shift, in return, has raised the question of the human rights record of regimes, their armies and policies participating in peacekeeping missions in different parts of the world.
Over the last six decades UN peacekeeping operations led by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) have played an irreplaceable role in maintaining peace and stabilization in countries facing inter-state and intra-state conflict. This general achievement record, however, is not without a history of spectacular failure resulting in a tragic consequences. The slaughter of 800,000 Tutsis in1994 by Hutu extremists and the failure of the UN to prevent the genocide remains one of the darkest chapters of the UN and international diplomacy and multilateral response to crisis.