What questions does the following statement raise about the role of peacekeepers? Thank you very much! "I could tell [the peacekeepers] to do things," he says, "but they would check with their...

What questions does the following statement raise about the role of peacekeepers? Thank you very much!


"I could tell [the peacekeepers] to do things," he says, "but they would check with their country. The troops are under my operational command, but they remained under the ultimate command of their nations, so. . . if a national capital feels that a [rescue] mission is unwarranted, or too risky, or something, the soldiers can turn around and say, 'No, I can't do it."'

Expert Answers
brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This raises questions about United Nations peacekeepers, in that they are from many nations, and supposedly under the command of one General, but not really.  I wouldn't generalize this statement to peacekeepers overall, however.  It is a problem somewhat unique to the UN and it's 192 member nations.

NATO, for example, has peacekeeping forces stationed in the former Yugoslavia, with forces from many countries and one overall General, and it has worked out very well, actually.  NATO is more functional as a fighting force than the UN is.

If peacekeeping forces can be as dysfunctional as the UN's often are, then they often serve little purpose, and can sometimes, as in the case of the Congo recently, do more harm than good.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

To me, this statement by a commander of peacekeepers raises the question of whether peacekeeping can ever work under rules such as the ones he describes.

In the statement, the commander points out that the peacekeepers cannot be made to do anything that their countries do not want them to do.  This makes it hard to command them.  If a commander cannot command the forces under him, he will likely have a great deal of trouble in trying to carry out his mission.  He will not have the ability to carry out his vision of how to accomplish his task.

In other words, the rules the commander was working under destroy his ability to have an efficient force that can accomplish its goals.