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International Security 29.4 (2005) 157-195

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Who's Keeping the Peace?

Regionalization and Contemporary Peace Operations

Peace operations involve the dispatch of expeditionary forces, with or without a United Nations (UN) mandate, to implement an agreement between warring states or factions, which may (or may not) include enforcing that agreement in the face of willful defiance. Although the UN has the most experience in authorizing and conducting such operations, the organization has never possessed a monopoly on them. This situation has become more obvious in recent years as a variety of non-UN actors have conducted peace operations, often without the Security Council's authorization. In Africa, for instance, since 1990 regional organizations have conducted ten peace operations: five by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), two under the mantle of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), one by the Economic and Monetary Community of Central African States (CEMAC), and two by the African Union (AU).1 Africans have also witnessed British operations in Sierra Leone; French operations in Central African Republic and Côte d'Ivoire; a South African detachment deployed to Burundi; and a French-led force dispatched to the Ituri region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In Europe, Italy led a peace operation in Albania in 1997; Russian troops—often under the umbrella of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS)—have deployed to Moldova, Georgia, and Tajikistan; and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) continues to lead a large peace operation in Kosovo and in December 2004 handed control of its Bosnia operation over to the European Union (EU). In addition, in 2003 NATO took command of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. In the same year, following NATO's departure, the EU conducted Operation Concordia in Macedonia and followed it [End Page 157] on with a police mission, Proxima. In the Americas, the United States led a multinational force into Haiti after the departure of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in the spring of 2004. Finally, in Asia, Australia has led two peace operations: one to East Timor in 1999 and the other to the Solomon Islands since 2003.

These developments have reinvigorated older debates about which actors and institutions can authorize and conduct peace operations most effectively. Thus far, much of the literature discussing these issues has been framed in terms of the debate about "regionalization," that is, how to devise the most appropriate relationship between the UN and regional arrangements in matters related to international peace and security. The label "regionalization," however, does not accurately reflect recent trends in peace operations. As we demonstrate, not only have regional arrangements sometimes gone out-of-area, but non-UN peace operations have also been conducted by individual states and coalitions of the willing. This raises the thorny issue of how to evaluate these different types of non-UN peace operations and their impact on what the UN charter refers to as "international peace and security."2 We argue that this can be done by assessing these operations in terms of their legitimacy, their effectiveness in achieving their mandate, and their ability to contribute to stable peace and security in the respective region. In developing these criteria, we refine several earlier attempts to evaluate peace operations in a way that takes account of the different types of actors authorizing and conducting them.3 We contend that the non-UN peace operations assessed here have not fundamentally challenged international society's norm of nonintervention without host-state consent. There is, however, a danger that the persistent recourse to non-UN operations may reduce the likelihood that poorer parts of the world will enjoy the benefits of high-quality peace operations as envisioned by the so-called Brahimi report.4 [End Page 158]

To explore these claims, the article proceeds in four parts. In the opening section we discuss the debates generated by non-UN peace operations during the Cold War and in more recent years, and briefly highlight the limitations imposed...


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