Does Peacekeeping Work? Why or Why Not?

Peacekeeping is well intentioned but performed poorly. Virginia Page Fortna argues in “Does Peacekeeping Work?” that peacekeeping overall is successful. She asserts that while peacekeeping does not guarantee peace, it “will significantly improve the chances that peace will hold” (Fortna 2008, 8). Unfortunately, this is not the case today. Fortna defines peacekeeping as a “multilateral activity” (Fortna 2008, 5) that promotes peace between conflicting groups when in reality, the United Nations forces have began breaking neutrality in war torn nations such as the Congo (Raghavan 2013) and has “failed to prevent fresh spasms of violence” (Raghavan 2014) in South Sudan and the Central African Republic. Peacekeeping, while good in theory, has failed to consistently promote peace and agreement between the conflicting groups.

As previously stated Fortna claims peacekeeping is a multilateral activity that “ensures impartiality” (Fortna 2008, 5) of the peacekeepers. However, in the Congo, the United Nations forces have “orders to react offensively to enforce peace, essentially transforming peacekeepers into combatants. And it is openly supporting Congolese government forces, a move away from the principle of neutrality that has guided other U.N. missions” (Raghavan 2013). The lack of dialogue with the rebel militias has made the United Nations similar to an ally in war rather than an arbitrator to conflict. The actions by the United Nations “risks deepening conflicts” (Raghavan 2013) and causes the militias to view them as “non-neutral potential targets” (Raghavan 2013).

In other African nations, it can be seen that peacekeeping does not increase the chances that conflicts will be settled and peace with hold. Interviews with citizens of Darfur have found that the “U.N. peacekeepers have not been able to stop the violence in Darfur” (Raghavan 2014) and has promoted violence in new areas such as South Sudan, where the “situation is now similar to Darfur” (Raghavan 2014). As senior U.N. official Tony Lanzer has stated: “what [peacekeepers] cannot do is stabilize a situation in a whole country that is erupting into violence” (Raghavan 2014). Placing troops on the ground in many situations has only caused rebel groups and militias to target the U.N. as well as their previous enemies. The U.N. in many cases has only caused tensions to increase between the groups involved and fail to increase the chances these nations will find peace.

Peacekeeping is not working and needs to be restructured if the U.N. desires to become more successful. Clearly the U.N. is not acting on neutrality and causing deeper divides among the groups fighting. Peacekeeping is an action that developed nations should support, but it requires adjustment if we hope to be successful in promoting peace across the globe.

Works Cited:

Fortna, Virginia Page. Does Peacekeeping Work?: Shaping Belligerents’ Choices                after Civil War. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008.

Raghavan, Sudarsan. “In Volatile Congo, a New U.N. Force with Teeth. The               Washington Post, November 3, 2013. Accessed December 6, 2015.                          a-new-un-force-with-teeth/2013/11/01/0cda650c-423f-11e3-b028-              de922d7a3f47_story.html.

Raghavan, Sudarsan. “Record Number of U.N. Peacekeepers Fails to Stop                 African Wars.” The Washington Post, January 4, 2014. Accessed                           December 6, 2015.               number-of-un-peacekeepers-fails-to-stop-african                                           wars/2014/01/03/17ed0574-7487-11e3-9389-09ef9944065e_                             story.html