United Nations Peacekeeping Forces – History of Organization
The United Nations Peacekeeping Forces are employed by the World Organizaton to maintain or re-establish peace in an area of armed conflict. The UN may engage in conflicts between states as well as in struggles within states. The UN acts as an impartial third party in order to prepare the ground for a settlement of the issues that have provoked armed conflict. If it proves impossible to achieve a peaceful settlement, the presence of UN forces may contribute to reducing the level of conflict.
The UN Peacekeeping Forces may only be employed when both parties to a conflict accept their presence. Accordingly, they may also be used by the warring parties to avoid having a conflict escalate and, in the event, also to have a struggle called off.
The Peacekeeping Forces are subordinate to the leadership of the United Nations. They are normally deployed as a consequence of a Security Council decision. However, on occasion, the initiative has been taken by the General Assembly. Operational control belongs to the Secretary-General and his secretariat.
We distinguish between two kinds of peacekeeping operations - unarmed observer groups and lightly-armed military forces. The latter are only allowed to employ their weapons for self-defence. Altogether, 14 UN operations have been carried out. They are evenly divided between observer groups and military forces. The observer groups are concerned with gathering information for the UN about actual conditions prevailing in an area, e.g., as to whether both parties adhere to an armistice agreement. The military forces are entrusted with more extended tasks, such as keeping the parties to a conflict apart and maintaining order in an area.
UN interventions have been in particular demand in the Middle East, both as regards observer groups and military forces. The UN first took on the task of sending observers to monitor the armistice between Israel and the Arab states in 1948. Observer group activity was resumed after the wars of 1956, 1967, and 1973. After the 1956 war, the first armed UN force was established to create a buffer between Israeli and Egyptian forces in the Sinai. Ten nations contributed soldiers. Another force was established after the war between Egypt and Israel in 1967 to monitor the armistice agreement between the parties. This took place during a period of extremely high tension both locally and between the great powers. In 1974, a smaller UN force was set up on the Golan Heights to maintain the boundary line between Syrian and Israeli forces. The most extensive UN operation in the Middle East is represented by the formation of UNIFIL, subsequent upon the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1978. Its tasks included watching over the Israeli withdrawal, maintaining conditions of peace and security, and helping the Lebanese government re-establish its authority. Such tasks have taxed the capabilities of UNIFIL to the utmost, but the UN forces have made an important contribution by reducing the level of conflict in the area. However, this achievement has not come without significant cost. UN casualities now amount to more than 200.
The UN played an important role during the struggles that erupted when the Belgian colony of the Congo achieved independence in 1960. As anarchy and chaos reigned in the area, a UN force numbering almost 20,000 was set up to help the Congolese government maintain peace and order. It ended up being, above all, engaged in bringing a raging civil war to an end and preventing the province of Katanga from seceding. It was while carrying out the UN mission in the Congo that Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold was killed in an air crash.
Among other important tasks may be mentioned monitoring the border between India and Pakistan, and maintaining the peacekeeping force that was established on Cyprus on account of the civil war that broke out between the Greek and Turkish populations of the island. The UN force has succeeded in creating a buffer zone between the two ethnic groups.
The UN has, in these and other areas, played a significant role in reducing the level of conflict even though the fundamental causes of the struggles frequently remain.
From Les Prix Nobel 1988.
Daniel, Donald C. F. and Bradd C. Hayes, eds. Beyond Traditional Peacekeeping. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1995. (Excellent essays on past, present and future of peacekeeping, with case studies and helpful appendices.)
Diehl, Paul F. International Peacekeeping. Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994. (History and analysis from the period of the League of Nations, with an epilogue on Somalia, Bosnia and Cambodia.)
Fetherston, A. B. Towards a Theory of United Nations Peacekeepers. New York: St. Martin’s, 1995. (Includes history to 1993 and case studies.)
Harbottle, Michael. The Impartial Soldier. London: Oxford University Press, 1970. (The first of his many publications on the peacekeepers.)
Heininger, Janet E. Peacekeeping in Transition: The United Nations in Cambodia, 1991-1993. New York: Twentieth Century Fund Press, 1994. (A key example of peacekeeping combined with peace-building.)
Hirsch, John L. and Robert B. Oakley. Somalia and Operation Restore Hope: Reflections on Peacekeeping and Peacemaking. Herndon, Virginia: U.S. Institute of Peace Press, 1995. (A detailed study, covering both achievements and mistakes.)
International Peacekeeping. 1994- . (Invaluable newsletter reporting and analysing developments with emphasis on legal and policy issues.)
Urquhart, Brian. A Life in Peace and War. New York: W. W. Norton, 1971. (Valuable memoirs by former UN peacekeeping administrator and biographer of Ralph Bunche and Dag Hammarskjöld, with whom he worked closely.)
From Nobel Lectures, Peace 1981-1990, Editor-in-Charge Tore Frängsmyr, Editor Irwin Abrams, World Scientific Publishing Co., Singapore, 1997
This text was written at the time of the award and later published in the book series Les Prix Nobel/Nobel Lectures. To cite this document, always state the source as shown above.
The Nobel Peace Prize 1988
The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the 1988 Nobel Peace Prize is to be awarded to the United Nations Peacekeeping Forces.
The Peacekeeping Forces of the United Nations have, under extremely difficult conditions, contributed to reducing tensions where an armistice has been negotiated but a peace treaty has yet to be established. In situations of this kind, the UN forces represent the manifest will of the community of nations to achieve peace through negotiations, and the forces have, by their presence, made a decisive contribution towards the initiation of actual peace negotiations.
It is the considered opinion of the Committee that the Peacekeeping Forces through their efforts have made important contributions towards the realization of one of the fundamental tenets of the United Nations. Thus, the world organization has come to play a more central part in world affairs and has been invested with increasing trust.
The Peacekeeping Forces are recruited from among the young people of many nations, who, in keeping with their ideals, voluntarily take on a demanding and hazardous service in the cause of peace. In the opinion of the Committee, their efforts contribute in a particularly appropriate way towards the realization of the goals of the United Nations.
The Nobel Peace Prize - Laureates
2004 Wangari Maathai
2003 Shirin Ebadi
2002 Jimmy Carter
2001 United Nations, Kofi Annan
2000 Kim Dae-jung
1999 Médecins Sans Frontières
1998 John Hume, David Trimble
1997 International Campaign to Ban Landmines, Jody Williams
1996 Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo, José Ramos-Horta
1995 Joseph Rotblat, Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs
1994 Yasser Arafat, Shimon Peres, Yitzhak Rabin
1993 Nelson Mandela, F.W. de Klerk
1992 Rigoberta Menchú Tum
1991 Aung San Suu Kyi
1990 Mikhail Gorbachev
1989 The 14th Dalai Lama
1988 United Nations Peacekeeping Forces
1987 Oscar Arias Sánchez
1986 Elie Wiesel
1985 International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War
1984 Desmond Tutu
1983 Lech Walesa
1982 Alva Myrdal, Alfonso García Robles
1981 Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
1980 Adolfo Pérez Esquivel
1979 Mother Teresa
1978 Anwar al-Sadat, Menachem Begin
1977 Amnesty International
1976 Betty Williams, Mairead Corrigan
1975 Andrei Sakharov
1974 Seán MacBride, Eisaku Sato
1973 Henry Kissinger, Le Duc Tho
1972 The prize money for 1972 was allocated to the Main Fund
1971 Willy Brandt
1970 Norman Borlaug
1969 International Labour Organization
1968 René Cassin
1967 The prize money was with 1/3 allocated to the Main Fund and with 2/3 to the Special Fund of this prize
1966 The prize money was allocated to the Special Fund of this prize section
1965 United Nations Children's Fund
1964 Martin Luther King
1963 International Committee of the Red Cross, League of Red Cross Societies
1962 Linus Pauling
1961 Dag Hammarskjöld
1960 Albert Lutuli
1959 Philip Noel-Baker
1958 Georges Pire
1957 Lester Bowles Pearson
1956 The prize money was with 1/3 allocated to the Main Fund and with 2/3 to the Special Fund of this prize section
1955 The prize money was allocated to the Special Fund of this prize section
1954 Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
1953 George C. Marshall
1952 Albert Schweitzer
1951 Léon Jouhaux
1950 Ralph Bunche
1949 Lord Boyd Orr
1948 The prize money was with 1/3 allocated to the Main Fund and with 2/3 to the Special Fund of this prize section
1947 Friends Service Council, American Friends Service Committee
1946 Emily Greene Balch, John R. Mott
1945 Cordell Hull
1944 International Committee of the Red Cross
1943 The prize money was with 1/3 allocated to the Main Fund and with 2/3 to the Special Fund of this prize section
1942 The prize money was with 1/3 allocated to the Main Fund and with 2/3 to the Special Fund of this prize section
1941 The prize money was with 1/3 allocated to the Main Fund and with 2/3 to the Special Fund of this prize section
1940 The prize money was with 1/3 allocated to the Main Fund and with 2/3 to the Special Fund of this prize section
1939 The prize money was with 1/3 allocated to the Main Fund and with 2/3 to the Special Fund of this prize section
1938 Nansen International Office for Refugees
1937 Robert Cecil
1936 Carlos Saavedra Lamas
1935 Carl von Ossietzky
1934 Arthur Henderson
1933 Sir Norman Angell
1932 The prize money was allocated to the Special Fund of this prize section
1931 Jane Addams, Nicholas Murray Butler
1930 Nathan Söderblom
1929 Frank B. Kellogg
1928 The prize money was allocated to the Special Fund of this prize section
1927 Ferdinand Buisson, Ludwig Quidde
1926 Aristide Briand, Gustav Stresemann
1925 Sir Austen Chamberlain, Charles G. Dawes
1924 The prize money was allocated to the Special Fund of this prize section
1923 The prize money was allocated to the Special Fund of this prize section
1922 Fridtjof Nansen
1921 Hjalmar Branting, Christian Lange
1920 Léon Bourgeois
1919 Woodrow Wilson
1918 The prize money was allocated to the Special Fund of this prize section
1917 International Committee of the Red Cross
1916 The prize money was allocated to the Special Fund of this prize section
1915 The prize money was allocated to the Special Fund of this prize section
1914 The prize money was allocated to the Special Fund of this prize section
1913 Henri La Fontaine
1912 Elihu Root
1911 Tobias Asser, Alfred Fried
1910 Permanent International Peace Bureau
1909 Auguste Beernaert, Paul Henri d'Estournelles de Constant
1908 Klas Pontus Arnoldson, Fredrik Bajer
1907 Ernesto Teodoro Moneta, Louis Renault
1906 Theodore Roosevelt
1905 Bertha von Suttner
1904 Institute of International Law
1903 Randal Cremer
1902 Élie Ducommun, Albert Gobat
1901 Henry Dunant, Frédéric Passy
The Nobel Peace Prize 1988
Presentation Speech by Egil Aarvik, Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee.
Your Majesty, Your Royal Highnesses, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen:
The award of the Nobel Peace Prize to the United Nations Peacekeeping Forces is unfortunately a reminder to us that peace is not a matter of course here in our world. Peace has to be actively protected - and this protection has its price. 733 young people have sacrificed their lives in the service of the particular form of peacekeeping which is under consideration here.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee asks those gathered together here today to join them in honouring the memory of those young people.
They came from different countries and had widely different backgrounds, but they were united in one thing: they were willing to devote their youth and their energy to the service of peace. They volunteered to the service, knowing that it could involve risk. It became their lot to pay the highest price a human being can pay.
We honour them for their unselfish contribution, and we join their relatives in their sorrow over their loved ones' early departure. Let us show this through a moment's silence.
We invoke peace on the memory of these young people in a spirit of thankfulness and deep respect.
For the first time in its history, the Peace Prize is to be awarded today to an organisation which, at least in part, consists of military forces. It might be reasonable to ask whether this is, in fact, in direct contradiction to the whole idea of the Peace Prize. The fact that this question has not been raised is an indication that it is universally accepted that the United Nations Peacekeeping Forces are in the spirit of the Peace Prize.
The description "Forces" is in itself inadequate since it conjures up the idea of a military operation in the traditional sense, while the reality is in many ways the diametric opposite. A more correct description would be "The United Nations Peacekeeping Operation" - consisting of both contingents of troops and unarmed observation corps.
These peacekeeping operations were commenced in 1956 when the UNEF (United Nations Emergency Force) was established in connection with the Suez crisis. The Security Council was unable to act because of a veto from two of the member states. Instead, use was made of the so-called "Uniting for Peace" resolution which gives the General Assembly of the United Nations the power to intervene in the event of the Security Council being unable to act in the face of a threat to world peace.
The General Assembly was summoned to a special session. In the following events, important roles were played by two prominent individuals: the former foreign minister of Canada, Lester Pearson, and the then Secretary-General of the United Nations, Dag Hammarskjöld. Both of these men were later awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
Through the influence of these two, plans were made and a resolution passed for a peacekeeping force which was to supervise the retreat of foreign troops from the canal zone.
The principles which were defined for this peace operation were written, in the main, by Dag Hammarskjöld. It is an honour to his memory that the same guidelines are, generally speaking, in use today.
The most important points in these guidelines are:
1. The involved parties must give their support and cooperation to the United Nations forces.
2. The primary aim is to prevent new hostilities and provide a background against which it is possible to work for a peaceful solution of the conflict.
3. The force is to make use of negotiation and persuasion instead of violence.
4. The force is under the command of the leadership of the United Nations and is not allowed to accept orders from other parts, not even the states who have made the troops available.
5. All member nations should contribute to the financing of the forces.
The peacekeeping forces have, on the basis of the resolution of 1956 and the guidelines drawn up by Dag Hammarskjöld, developed into what present Secretary-General Perez de Cuéllar calls "The United Nations' most successful renewal".
Strangely enough, the peacekeeping forces as such were a new creation: they are not named - or even envisaged - in the original United Nations treaty. The treaty does mention the possibility of military involvement on the part of the United Nations in the event of hostilities, but, because of the relationship between the great powers, it has never been possible to make use of this part of the treaty - the possible exception being the action in Korea in 1950.
Today's peacekeeping operations are something quite different. The troops are made available on a voluntary basis and are approved by the Security Council. They are stationed in areas where a ceasefire has already been established but where no formal peace treaty has been concluded, and they are stationed in such a way that the conflicting parties, in the event of a resumption of hostilities, would meet the United Nations troops first. Actual fighting can thus be avoided, peace and quiet maintained, and it is possible to develop an atmosphere which makes active peace work possible. The very presence of the United Nations troops can have a positive effect. The soldiers very often make friends among the local population, they can offer help and aid in many ways, and are a conciliating element in otherwise explosive situations.
In this connection it is interesting to note a parallel with one of the ideas Alfred Nobel worked on - following a model from the French duelling etiquette. The seconds in such a conflict could intervene between the combatants with the aim of achieving a delay in the duel so that tempers could be cooled and the whole business possibly solved by other means.
It is perhaps reasonable that there were powerful political objections to this model, but the point remains: the United Nations Peacekeeping Forces today have just such an "interventionist" role. Because the United Nations is, in this way, on speaking terms with both parts, negotiations which are at a standstill can perhaps be reopened, and in many situations it is possible that armed fighting can be avoided.
The English brigadier, Michael Harbottle, who took part in the United Nations Peacekeeping Forces in Cyprus at the end of the 1960's, has written a book on his experiences there. The book is called The Impartial Soldier, and in it he relates an episode which illustrates what the United Nations peacekeeping operations mean better than any official report.
The Finnish contingent under the command of Colonel Uolevi Koskenpalo was involved in the episode. A message was received to the effect that the Turks had begun to dig trenches in a suspicious manner; the Greeks had observed this, under the leadership of a general, they had decided to take the affair into their own hands. Colonel Koskenpalo had, however, placed his three platoons in precisely the right strategic position, so that the Greeks met the Finnish United Nations troops first as intended. The Greek general disliked being hindered in this way and began to protest loudly. In fact he screamed at the Finn - an obvious mistake. In contrast to the Greek, Colonel Koskenpalo was a well built man with a chest and shoulders of Nordic dimensions. He advanced slowly and from a height of well over six feet looked down at the Greek and said in a moderately loud voice, "Don't shout, general. I am a colonel in the Finnish army and don't like being shouted at."
The reaction was surprising. The general naturally didn't believe his ears, but the shouting stopped immediately and in a little while he retreated together with his forces. This gave the Finn the opportunity to both inform and placate the Greek high command and to persuade the Turks to stop the provocative trench digging.
In this way a violent episode was avoided. There have been many similar episodes where the United Nations Peacekeeping Forces have intervened. It is a question of a strictly peaceful behaviour combined with authority. The Finnish colonel was able to act as an efficient peace medium because he had the authority of the United Nations and the force of his well-trained Finnish United Nations soldiers behind him.
What has been said about the United Nations Peacekeeping Forces is equally true of the United Nations observers. Their duties are to ensure that the Security Council's ceasefire demands are kept. They mark the ceasefire line, establish observation posts and report to the Secretary-General if there are violations of the ceasefire.
This is an important role in critical situations. Reports from the observation corps will be non-partisan and accurate, in contrast to reports from the involved parties themselves. This gives them an obvious value both to the involved parties and to the outside world generally.
It is often emphasised that the United Nations' peacekeeping operations are only carried out at the invitation of the countries involved. The troops and observation corps are guests in the area, and they have a special responsibility to behave in a way which is in agreement with international law and ordinary politeness. Experience to now indicates that the peacekeeping forces have been a correct solution to the problem.
To the present there have been - or are - 13 peacekeeping operations. fifty-three countries have contributed with personnel, and the maximum force has been a total of 50,000 men. If one counts all the soldiers who have been involved in these operations, the total is something like 500,000 men.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee sees this mobilisation of troops from countries all over the world as a tangible expression of the world community's will to solve conflicts by peaceful means. The technological development of weapons systems has resulted in the peaceful resolution of conflicts becoming the only realistic possibility. Nuclear weapons have made the concept of wielding total power an absurdity. In conflict situations it is therefore vitally necessary that there are openings where real negotiations can be initiated. In the opinion of the Nobel Committee the United Nations peacekeeping operations contribute precisely to this.
The Committee believes also that the peacekeeping operations and the way they are carried out contribute to making the ideas which were the very reason for the establishment of the United Nations a reality. This year's Peace Prize should therefore also be regarded as a recognition of the whole organisation, the United Nations. The prize gives expression to the hope we all place in the United Nations.
Secretary-General Pérez de Cuéllar, who is directly responsible for the peacekeeping operations, and who is therefore present today to receive the prize, is here not only as the formal recipient, receiving the prize on behalf of others. He is himself one of the prizewinners today! With his never-tiring work and the results he has achieved as an active mediator he should be accorded his part of the honour for the growing confidence which is shown in the United Nations.
Confidence in the United Nations has otherwise been a variable factor. The United Nations has for many been seen as a body without power or effectiveness, a forum for bilateral insults, a theatre stage at the side of the reality of world politics. One has been able to have negative opinions of the United Nations without thereby colliding with the accepted state of affairs. But there is one overpowering argument in favour of the United Nations: the organisation has survived, and now defends more and more both its right to exist and its capacity to survive.
It has been pointed out, quite correctly, that the United Nations can only be what the member states make it. They can paralyse the United Nations by ignoring its resolutions, by vetoing, by sabotaging its economy. But they can also make the United Nations an active instrument in the fight for peace, a focus for international law and human rights, and a forum for the development of inter-racial understanding.
The signs today indicate that it is the latter alternative which is in the course of realising itself. Perhaps the very idea of the United Nations is now coming into its own? After what we have been through: Cold War, unsuccessful negotiations, growing fear of a universal atomic death, it is perhaps not so surprising that one again looks to the decisions that were made when the United Nations treaty was signed. On the ruins of the Second World War the survivors decided that conflicts should thereafter be solved by peaceful means. Barbarism should be replaced by friendly relations between nations. Freedom and human rights should be respected without reference to race, sex, language or religion. And the United Nations were to be the means by which the aims of the United Nations Treaty were to be realised.
This year's Peace Prize is a recognition of and homage to one organ of the United Nations. But it ought to be understood as a serious comment on the fact that we must, united and with our whole hearts, invest in the United Nations. It becomes clearer and clearer that what has to be done to secure the future for new generations has to be done together. Our determination has to be channelled into the United Nations. This is the best hope for the future of the world - indeed its only hope!
The belief and the hope which are placed in the United Nations have to be the hope and belief of the younger generations. In the ideals of the United Nations they can search for their own ideals, and it is they who are to form the world of the future.
In the selection of this year's Peace Prize laureate the Nobel Committee attached therefore great importance to the role of young people in the United Nations Peacekeeping Forces. It is precisely the contribution of the young which makes the realisation of the United Nations' aims possible in a positive way.
For obvious reasons it is precisely the young who today feel the crippling powerlessness in their meeting with the powers who steer the development of our world. It is easy to lose one's foothold, it is difficult to retain one's optimism - at times it is unclear whether there is any point in attempting to do anything at all.
To all the young people who feel their situation in this way, I would direct a question, the question which the young Norwegian poet Nordahl Grieg took up in his poem To Youth:
Well may you ask, in despondent alarm:
- What is my weapon? What is my arm?
And thus it is that the young prizewinners can today raise their United Nations flag and answer with the words of this poem by one of our own young fallen:
This is the sword you must bear in your fight -
Faith in this life and man's God-given right.
For the future of all, seek it and choose it;
Die, if you must, gird it on and use it.
Silent the path of the arrow by night;
Halt with the spirit its death-dealing flight.
Then, only then, will all warfare cease.
Man's dignity only can give us true peace.
From Nobel Lectures, Peace 1981-1990, Editor-in-Charge Tore Frängsmyr, Editor Irwin Abrams, World Scientific Publishing Co., Singapore, 1997
- The Nobel Peace Prize 2001
Address by Gunnar Berge, Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Oslo, December 10, 2001
Your Majesty, Your Royal Highnessess, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, and, not least, this year's and past year's Peace Prize Laureates. Let me begin by extending a warm welcome to this year's special Peace Prize award ceremony.
The Nobel Peace Prize for 2001 is awarded to the United Nations (the UN) and its Secretary-General Kofi Annan for their work for a better organized and more peaceful world.
This year we are celebrating the centenary of the Nobel Prizes, including the Peace Prize. That makes it natural to consider historical continuities where both the better organized world and the Nobel Peace Prize are concerned. The idea that mankind has common interests, and that this should find expression in some form or other of shared government or rules, can be traced back to the Roman Empire. In the twentieth century, Woodrow Wilson was a vigorous early spokesman for the belief that we people need each other. Such a belief means that, whether as states or as individuals, we should treat one another in ways that do not make us less able to live together. Tolerance, justice and humanity are essential to the unity of mankind.
Alfred Nobel had no self-evident place in this tradition. At one time, he believed that dynamite, his great invention, could do more to prevent war than any peace movement. Nevertheless, the will he made in 1895 was inspired by belief in the community of man. The Peace Prize was to be awarded to the person who had done most for "fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses".
Over the one hundred years that have passed since the first Peace Prize was awarded in 1901, the foremost sustained intention of the Norwegian Nobel Committee has been precisely that: of strengthening international co-operation between states. In the period before World War I, the majority of the Peace Prizes went to representatives of the organized peace movement, either at the parliamentary level through the Inter-Parliamentary Union, or at the more popular level through the International Peace Bureau. But the prizes do not seem to have helped much. The first world war broke out in 1914.
In the words of Woodrow Wilson, the first world war was to be "the war to end wars", and should "make the world safe for democracy". The new League of Nations was to be the body that resolved conflicts before they led to war. Once again, the Norwegian Nobel Committee sought to promote this greater commitment in international co-operation. In the years between the wars, at least eight Peace Prize Laureates had clear connections with the League of Nations, although the League as such never in fact received the prize.
Again the world, and not least Wilson himself, was to be disappointed. The 1919 Peace Prize Laureate was unable to persuade his own United States to join the League of Nations. For would not binding obligations to an international organization also limit American sovereignty?
Practically all of us wish to avoid the horrors of war. But we have different notions about how this can come about. All non-pacifists seek other things in addition to peace. There is not necessarily anything wrong with that. Nor can peace be absolute. That was why so many took up arms against Hitler Germany and the Emperor's Japan.
The horrors of World War II made the hopes people pinned on the new world organization, the United Nations, all the greater. The new organization was set even higher targets than the League of Nations. The preamble to the UN Charter thus speaks of "We the peoples of the United Nations determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind...". There were many points of organizational similarity between the League of Nations and the UN. But the League of Nations had failed. The answer was to give the Security Council a much more prominent role than the corresponding council had had in the League of Nations. Universal membership would be combined with special rights exercised by the Great Powers. The Security Council could use military force to maintain peace. It was even to have standing armed forces at its disposal, to be established by member states in cooperation. We have not reached that goal even today, fifty-six years on.
The UN has achieved many successes, not least in the humanitarian and social fields, where its various special organizations have done such important work. In some respects, the UN achieved more than its founders believed possible. It found itself in the thick of the process of decolonization which in a few short decades swept away centuries-old colonial empires. The UN set important standards, which influenced developments for the majority of people all over the world. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN in 1948, became one of the major documents of our time. Article 1 gives clear expression to the hope for a better organized and more peaceful world: "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and human rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood".
The Norwegian Nobel Committee has sought to give these successes the credit they deserve. Since 1945, at least 13 of the Peace Prizes have had links to the UN. Some have gone to UN organizations such as the High Commissioner for Refugees, winner of two awards, UNICEF, the ILO, or the UN's peace-keeping forces. Others have gone to individuals like Cordell Hull, reputed to have provided the inspiration underlying the UN, John Boyd Orr, the first head of the FAO, Ralph Bunche, first of many UN mediators in the Middle East and, in 1950, the first non-white Peace Prize Laureate, Dag Hammarskjöld, the UN's second Secretary-General, or René Cassin, main author of the Declaration of Human Rights.
In its most important area, however, preventing war and ensuring peace, the UN did not turn out to be all that its supporters had hoped for. In many serious conflicts, the organization remained on the sidelines or was used as a tool by one of the parties. The five Great Powers had all agreed that they had to have a veto. But it is not the veto itself, of course, that explains the UN's inability to act, but rather the fact that the interests of the two super-powers diverged so radically throughout the many years of cold war.
Seeing that the main theme in the history of the Peace Prize has been the wish for a better organized and more peaceful world, it is surprising that the UN as such has not been awarded the Peace Prize before. One reason may be disappointment that the UN did not quite live up to all the expectations of 1945. Another may be the many UN-related prizes, which made it less necessary to give the award to the organization itself. A good deal can be attributed to chance: the UN could have won the award so often that in the end it never did. Until a suitably important occasion arrived. In connection with this year's centenary, the Committee once again felt a need to emphasise the continuous theme of the history of the Peace Prize, the hope for a better organized and more peaceful world. Nothing symbolises that hope, or represents that reality, better than the United Nations.
The end of the cold war meant that the UN became able to play more of the role in security policy for which it was originally intended. The Great Powers still had diverging interests; so, too, of course, had the smaller states, but they had less impact on the international climate. Although the USA provides the clearest illustration, all countries are more or less selective in their attitudes to the UN. They favour an active UN when they need and see opportunities to obtain its support; but when the UN takes a different stance, they seek to limit its influence. Since the cold war, however, greater and smaller powers have to a significant extent been able to unite in meeting the most serious common challenges: to prevent wars and conflicts; to stimulate economic development, especially in poor countries; to strengthen fundamental human rights; to promote a better environment; to fight epidemics; and, in the most recent common endeavour, to prevent international terrorism.
No one has done more than Kofi Annan to revitalise the UN. After taking office as the UN's seventh Secretary-General in January, 1997, he managed in a very short time to give the UN an external prestige and an internal morale the likes of which the organization had hardly seen in its over fifty-year history, with the possible exception of its very first optimistic years. His position within the organization has no doubt benefited from his having devoted almost all his working life to the UN. Experience in a bureaucracy is not always the best springboard for action and fresh approaches to the outside world, but Annan has brought about both. The UN structure has been tightened up and made more efficient. The Secretary-General has figured prominently in the efforts to resolve a whole series of international disputes: the repercussions of the Gulf War, the wars in the former Yugoslavia and especially in Kosovo, the status of East Timor, the war in the Congo, and the implementation of the UN resolutions concerning the Middle East and "land for peace".
On the basis of renewed emphasis on the Declaration of Human Rights, Annan has given the Secretary-General a more active part to play as a protector of those rights. Time and again, he has maintained that sovereignty is not a shield behind which member countries can hide their violations. He has shown the same activist approach to the struggle against HIV/AIDS, a struggle which he has called his "personal priority". Since the terrorist attack on New York and Washington on the 11th of September, he has urged that the UN must be given a leading part to play in the fight against international terrorism. The Secretary-General's report on the role of the UN in the 21st century formed the basis for the UN's Millennium Declaration. Here, too, the agenda is ambitious: to put an end to poverty, to provide better education for the world's billions of people, to reduce HIV/AIDS, to protect the environment, and to prevent war and armed conflict.
The only one of the UN's previous six Secretaries-General who can be compared to Annan in personal force and historical importance is Dag Hammarskjöld, the organization's second Secretary-General and the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1961. For Kofi Annan, Dag Hammarskjöld has been a model. In his Hammarskjöld Memorial Lecture in September this year, Annan said, "There can be no better rule of thumb for a Secretary-General, as he approaches each new challenge or crisis, than to ask himself, 'how would Hammarskjöld have handled this?'". Annan is nevertheless more of a team player than Hammarskjöld was. In other respects, too, Annan goes further than Hammarskjöld could: "I suspect he would envy me the discretion I enjoy in deciding what to say, and what topics to comment on". This can occasionally be a bit much, however, even for Annan: "I find myself called on to make official statements on almost everything that happens in the world today, from royal marriages to the possibility of human cloning!".
Wars between states have grown quite rare in recent decades. This can be regarded as a victory for norms which the UN has stood for throughout its existence. But many wars are still fought in our time. The new development is that wars within states, civil wars, have become relatively more frequent. This is confronting the UN with major challenges. The UN has traditionally been a defender of the sovereignty of individual states. The principle of state sovereignty is laid down in the UN Charter, especially in Article 2.7. but even that Article contains a qualification: "this principle shall not prejudice the application of enforcement measures under Chapter VII" (the chapter on action to preserve peace). Now that we are attaching ever-increasing importance to "human security" and not just to the security of states, it makes little difference whether a life is lost in an international or a civil war.
If the UN is to prevent civil war, the question soon arises of intervention from outside. Many see intervention as equivalent to invasion. Small states are naturally afraid that big states will use it as a pretext for interfering in their domestic affairs. The policies of colonial powers in Africa and Asia, the Soviet Union's entries into Eastern Europe, and the USA's various interventions in the Western hemisphere all illustrate the need to protect the sovereignty of small states. On the other hand, the present situation, with civil wars in numerous countries, is a high price to pay for regarding state sovereignty as absolute. The massacres in Rwanda taught us all, and not least Annan, that the world does not necessarily get any better if one refrains from intervening. As Annan himself has said, we applaud the policeman who "intervenes" to stop a fight, or the teacher who tries to prevent bullying and fighting; and a doctor "intervenes" to save patients' lives. "A doctor who never intervenes has few admirers and probably even fewer patients." Where humanitarian concerns are uppermost, Doctors without Borders (MSF) in particular, the 1999 Laureate, has argued that the global community has "a duty to intervene", a principle which the UN General Assembly has accepted in several important resolutions.
The debate on "humanitarian intervention" raises difficult questions to which there are no pat answers, especially when the debate shifts from purely humanitarian to more political ground. Under Annan's leadership, the UN has shown itself willing to participate in this difficult discussion, with significant results in the last few years. Developments have taken a favourable turn in Kosovo, though there is still a long way to go. The UN played a leading part in the process which in a short space of time advanced East Timor from the status of a colony to, before long, that of an independent state. Maybe the 1996 Peace Prize awarded to Belo and Ramos-Horta also contributed. Today large and small states alike are almost competing in urging the UN to take the lead in developing Afghanistan away from a Taliban regime that has been a leading supporter of international terrorism, and towards a broadly-based government that can lead the country back into the international community.
So we have already moved well into the discussion of what steps to take to achieve a better organized and more peaceful world in the next hundred years. It has been repeated again and again that the UN can not become anything more than the world's ever so multifarious governments wish to make it. But in the light of the many common tasks that lie ahead, we must at least see to it that the very slowest movers among the nations are not allowed to set too much of the future pace. As globalisation expands, the question will be asked even more loudly than at present of who is to manage this development and by what means. In the view of the Nobel Committee, that will be a task for the UN, if not in the form of a centralised world government then at least as the more efficient global instrument which the world so sorely needs.
For that to come about, it will help if nations as far as possible have a shared platform. Democracy is stronger today than at any time in history; over half of the world's population lives under democratic government. This marks a great victory for the principles in the Human Rights Declaration. One need go no further than back to the inter-war years, when democracy was a threatened species of government, to realise how dramatic this progress has been. Democracies rarely if ever go to war with each other.
The strong position of democracy today gives grounds for optimism. But much remains to be done, not least in the economic field. We have made very few advances in solidarity between countries that are growing ever richer, and the many countries and individuals who either are not benefiting to the same extent from globalisation or are even suffering from its economic and social consequences. The number of poor people in the world is ever-increasing.
There were many reverses in the twentieth century, for the world as a whole and for the idea of a better organized and more peaceful world. Two world wars, and a cold war that lasted more than forty years and spread into every corner of the world, set a limit to how optimistic we can feel about the future. On the other hand, we have witnessed a remarkable development, from the scattered and rather private peace initiatives at the previous turn of the century to the ever stronger and more efficient United Nations we have today. The Norwegian Nobel Committee wishes both to honour the work that the UN and its Secretary-General Kofi Annan have already done, and to encourage them to go ahead along the road to a still more forceful and dynamic United Nations.
The United Nations Peacekeeing Forces
– Nobel Lecture
Nobel Lecture, January 9, 1989
by Secretary-General Javier Pérez de Cuéllar
Mr. Chairman, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I should like first of all, to once again thank the Norwegian Nobel Committee for the award they have made to the United Nations Peacekeeping Operations. Their decision has been acclaimed all over the world. I take this opportunity also to express once again my deep gratitude to the countries which have contributed troops or provided logistical support to these operations. It is to their willing cooperation that we owe the success of this great experiment in conflict control.
Peace - the word evokes the simplest and most cherished dream of humanity. Peace is, and has always been, the ultimate human aspiration. And yet our history overwhelmingly shows that while we speak incessantly of peace, our actions tell a very different story.
Peace is any easy word to say in any language. As Secretary-General of the United Nations I hear it so frequently from so many different mouths and different sources, that it sometimes seems to me to be a general incantation more or less deprived of practical meaning. What do we really mean by peace?
Human nature being what it is, peace must inevitably be a relative condition. The essence of life is struggle and competition, and to that extent perfect peace is an almost meaningless abstraction. Struggle and competition are stimulating, but when they degenerate into conflict they are usually both destructive and disruptive. The aim of political institutions like the United Nations is to draw the line between struggle and conflict and to make it possible for nations to stay on the right side of that line. Peacekeeping operations are one very practical means of doing this. What we are trying to create in the United Nations is a world where nations recognize at the same time the ultimate futility of war and the collective responsibility which men and women everywhere share for ensuring a decent future.
All human experience seems to show that in international, as in national, affairs, the rule of law is an essential ultimate objective for any society which wishes to survive in reasonable conditions. We now recognize that all humanity - the whole population of this planet - has in many respects become, through the revolutionary force of technological and other changes, a single society. The evolution of, and respect for, international law and international authority may well be decisive in determining whether this global society is going to survive in reasonable conditions.
We have come a long way in the forty-three years since World War II. With the creation and ratification of the United Nations Charter it seemed that governments had, at last, learned the lessons of two world wars. However, in the forty years of ideological strife, tumultous change, and evolution which followed, the initial enthusiasm for the Charter largely evaporated. Even the possibility of an orderly international future began to be questioned. The Cold War paralyzed the United Nations, which was founded on the assumption that the great powers would be unanimous in dealing with matters of international peace and security. Regional conflicts defied the authority of the world organization. The arms race proceeded at full speed at all levels.
In spite of these discouraging developments, the basic will to peace of the world community survived. A third world war - which at times seemed imminent - was avoided. The UN played an important role in preventing regional conflicts from escalating into an armed confrontation between East and West. Improvisations, including new techniques of peacemaking and peacekeeping and a large expansion of the role of the Secretary-General, to some extent filled the gap caused by the absence of great power unanimity. In this process, a practical reassessment of the realities of international peace and security has gradually emerged. Sixteen peacekeeping operations and countless good offices missions by successive Secretaries-General have been the backbone of this effort.
In the last eighteen months a new and mild international climate has relaxed the rigors of the Cold War and calmed the storm of regional conflict. The prospect of realizing the dreams of 1945 seems better than at anytime in forty years. At last we have an opportunity to assess our situation, to consider the revolutionary changes that have taken place to cooperate in making plans for a better future.
This opportunity has not come a moment too soon. Modern warfare has become a lethal and unacceptable anachronism. Even the most powerful states are finding that preparations for modern warfare are prohibitively expensive. An improvement in the way the existing system of international stability and security operates is urgently needed, and may now at last be within the bounds of political reality.
But, there is another compelling challenge to the community of nations - a challenge which will not respect nor wait upon the disputes and disagreements of nations. We are now encountering a new generation of global problems which can only be faced effectively through an unprecedented degree of international cooperation. Our capacity to face these problems will determine the nature and conditions of life on this planet in the next century. Clearly this task requires outstanding leadership and an extraordinary concentration of resources and political energy. We shall have to study our existing international mechanisms and decide in what way they need to be strengthened and coordinated.
In dealing with both sets of issues-peace and stability, and global problems - the key question will be the extent to which collective responsibility and international authority can be exercised and respected. We now have a world of more than 160 independent sovereign states. This is a new situation which clearly demands an acceptable, but effective, degree of international authority in matters of common concern. The nature and evolution of this authority will be the key to building a better world and dealing with the global threats we now face.
Forty-three years ago the international organization was primarily preoccupied with international peace and security. The evolution of thinking and practice on this essential question may give some clues as to the basis upon which international authority may rest in the future.
As regards international peace and security the United Nations Charter sets out a process which, in its first stage, is based on the renunciation of force in international relations and on the peaceful settlement of disputes. If these principles are rejected, the Charter provides for collective enforcement action by the world community through the Security Council. Such action ranges from various forms of sanctions and embargoes to the use of military force by the Security Council.
In the political and military conditions of the post-war world, forceful international action has not proved to be a practical proposition. Sanctions and embargoes have rarely been agreed on, and military enforcement action never, apart from the exceptional case of Korea. Instead the Security Council and the Secretary-General have pioneered a different route - the route of consensus, conciliation, good offices, diplomatic pressure and non-forceful, cooperative peacekeeping.
This last concept - peacekeeping - was honored this year with the award of the Nobel Peace Prize. This was a recognition not only of the architects and the soldiers of peacekeeping, but also of an extremely important idea. The evolution of peacekeeping may provide a useful practical indication of how international authority, and respect for it, can be built up.
Before considering the evolution of peacekeeping, however, I would like to say a word about its opposite, enforcement. Chapter VII of the Charter, the enforcement chapter, was a recognition by the authors of the Charter that the failure of the international community to deal with the aggressions of the 1930s had inevitably led to World War II. They were determined that the international community should not make this mistake again.
In the period since World War II aggressors on this scale have, mercifully, not emerged. The measures of Chapter VII have thus not been invoked in order to take forceful action against aggression. The Security Council, in its wisdom, has never seen fit or been able to agree on the full-scale use of Chapter VII. Instead, international disputes and threats to the peace have been, for the most part, dealt with by non-forceful means. That should not mean that Chapter VII should be forgotten, It is all well and good to evolve a design for international peace and security based not on forceful techniques, but on cooperation and persuasion. But we cannot say for certain that the world will never again be threatened by irrational aggressors. The capacity to react forcefully, and in time, to such a contingency must therefore be maintained, while we pursue the option of peacemaking and peacekeeping as the normal approach to international disputes or threats to the peace.
The essence of peacekeeping is the use of soldiers as a catalyst for peace rather than as the instruments of war. It is in fact the exact opposite of the military action against aggression foreseen in Chapter VII of the charter. Although the arms race continues, it would seem that the majority of nations have, in practice, opted for the rule of international authority and law in their relations with each other. The only sanction for this authority is usually persuasion, the moral force of international authority and diplomatic pressure. In addition, international authority can be symbolized in conflict areas by non-fighting soldiers, the UN's peacekeepers.
These are soldiers without enemies. Their duty is to remain above the conflict. They may only use their weapons in the last resort for self-defense. Their strength is that, representing the will of the international community, they provide an honorable alternative to war and a useful pretext for peace. Their presence is often the essential prerequisite for negotiating a settlement. They have, or should have, a direct connection with the process of peacemaking.
The peacekeeping and peacemaking route has been pioneered even as governments also follow the course of armaments and military alliances. I have a feeling that self-styled experts and realists, who are not always farsighted, have tended to regard the UN's peacekeeping and peacemaking efforts rather patronizingly as something of a sideshow. Certainly, some major powers, including the Soviet Union, were for many years highly sceptical of - and even actively opposed to - UN peacekeeping operations.
Recent changes in Soviet policy on peacekeeping, as well as on other important matters, mean that for the first time there is virtually a unanimous international constituency for promoting the concept of international authority through consensus and joint action, by the non-forceful techniques of peacemaking and peacekeeping.
What are the practical prospects of making this approach to international peace and stability effective? It is perhaps worth recalling how, in nation states, the evolution of civilian police as the guardians of public safety and the symbols of the law helped many states to cross the line from lawless violence and tyranny to civil authority and respect for the law in the common interest of all citizens. When they were first introduced, the police were often resented or not taken seriously. They were the butt of many jokes and demonstrations. When however, they gained the support both of the governmental establishment and of the vast majority of the populace, they became a trusted and indispensable institution. They were an institution which did not depend on physical force but on the support of the authorities and the people and on the majesty of the law.
Some of the factors which allowed the emergence of the police as guardians of the law and protectors of public safety may have begun to be present in the international world of today. There is a widespread weariness and disgust with violence and a heightened consciousness that the use of force seldom solves, and usually exacerbates, problems. Our powers of destruction have increased to the point where it is madness to use them. The necessity of the rule of law in our crowded, interdependent planet is becoming increasingly evident. It is clear that if we fail to act together on many matters, we may lose the capacity to act at all. At the superpower level we are seeing the first practical steps of disarmament - a recognition of the undoubted fact that war is no longer a practical instrument of national policy.
These factors would seem to indicate that the way to peace and security might in future generally be based on consensus and cooperation rather than on the use of force. Peacekeeping operations would be an important visible symbol and monitor of such a system, although, as I have said, we must also preserve some collective capacity to deal with aggression.
The basic prerequisites for the success of the peacekeeping technique are now present to a far greater extent than before. Successful peacekeeping requires a strong and supportive international consensus, starting in the Security Council. I must add that this support must include the necessary financial and logistical support. The cost of peacekeeping is usually infinitesimal by comparison with the cost of war, destruction and disruption. Nonetheless, the sums involved are considerable by diplomatic standards, if not by military standards. The present uncertain situation about financing is deplorable. It puts an intolerable burden on the countries which provide the troops, and is also harmful to the essential principle of collective responsibility. It sends a feeble and wavering message, when what is required is confidence and strong support. Collective governmental responsibility for the financing of peacekeeping operations is an essential basic principle. However, if governments decide that the financial burden is too heavy for them to bear alone, other means of financing may have to be considered. In some cases, those who benefit financially from the results of a peacemaking and peacekeeping operation might be asked to share in the costs. A reserve fund for peacekeeping emergencies has also been suggested. A more far-reaching idea has been floated, embracing the concept of using some of the money spent on war to pay for peace through an appropriate international levy on all overseas arms sales. This money could be used to build up such a fund. As long as, regrettably, the arms trade continues, we would at least be robbing war to pay for peace. It is an interesting coincidence that the figure of 1.5 billion dollars, often mentioned as the possible bill for peacekeeping in 1989, is almost exactly one percent of the official arms exports for 1987 - 164 billion dollars.
A peacekeeping operation must have a workable and realistic mandate fully supported by the international community. It must also have the cooperation, however grudging, of the governments and authorities in the area of conflict, and their understanding that the operation serves their long-term interests, no matter what their short-term political difficulties may be.
A peacekeeping operation needs disciplined and broadly representative contingents and an effective integrated command. The operation must be guided at all times by the Secretary-General and kept on course with the objectives of the Security Council.
The nonviolent nature of peacekeeping must be understood by the soldiers and respected by the parties to the conflict. A peacekeeping force that uses its weapons for purposes other than strict self-defense quickly becomes part of the conflict and therefore part of the problem. It loses its essential quality of being above the conflict.
These essential conditions seem to be present to a far greater extent than any time in the past forty years. Indeed we have come a very long way since 1948, when Secretary-General Trygve Lie's suggestion of "a small guard force" for Palestine was dismissed without serious discussion.
The situation in the Security Council is particularly encouraging. For the first time the permanent members seem to be becoming a collegial body working together with the non-permanent members and with the Secretary- General to evolve common approaches and solutions for problems of international peace and security. This development opens up new possibilities of a more general nature in arms control and disarmament and in the settlement of international disputes, as well as in the development and use for the technique of peacekeeping.
Here the change in the Soviet attitude is particularly encouraging. New Soviet proposals, both as regards the future development of peacekeeping and the wider use of such operations, indicate that a major obstacle to progress has been removed. The Soviet proposals aim at seeing "the positive experience and practice of United Nations peacekeeping operations consolidated and further developed and put on a more solid legal and financial basis" so that they can be used "more extensively for the implementation of Security Council decisions as well as for the prevention of emerging armed conflicts".
This new consensus behind peacekeeping comes at a time when important operations are imminent - in Namibia and Western Sahara1, for example. These operations should provide a practical testing ground for strengthening the foundations of this important technique.
The long-term aim remains what it has always been - to evolve a collective system of international peace and security, reliable and strong enough that governments in trouble or under threat will choose to bring their problems to the United Nations rather than trying to go it alone in unilateral efforts which usually end in disaster. To achieve this goal the member states of the United Nations should make deliberate and practical efforts to foster the growth of collective responsibility, international confidence, operational capacity, and respect for the decisions and operations of the United Nations. Such an effort could give the phrase "international peace and security" a reality which it has so far lacked.
In a larger perspective, we must work towards a time when war will cease to be an acceptable option of national policy or a possible means of settling disputes, and when a reliable and respected international system will take its place. In this perspective the development of international peacekeeping has an essential place. Just as the concept of civil police was essential to the development of the rule of law within nation states.
When we talk of peacekeeping we are, at the present time, referring to one area of international activity. But the principles and techniques involved in peacekeeping may be applicable and relevant to other areas and other problems: the principles of impartiality and objectivity; the symbolic representation of international authority; the process of securing compliance through cooperation; the providing of pretexts for conforming to international decisions; the capacity for fact-finding; the monitoring of the implementation of agreements; the developing of a capacity for preempting disasters or preventing conflicts. These are all essential elements of the peacekeeping technique which need further development. They may also prove to be an important basis for dealing with the global problems which now present an urgent challenge to the international community.
I hope that the attention now being given to peacekeeping, which is symbolized by the award of the Nobel Peace Prize, will not only strengthen our capacity to conduct the affairs of nations in a more peaceful and just manner. I hope it will also stimulate a wider effort to consider the new means and the new institutions which we shall need if we are to ensure our common future.
1. In April 1989 the United Nations Transitional Assistance Group (UNTAG) began operations in Namibia. It was not until 1991, however, that the United Nations Mission for Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) was established.
From Nobel Lectures, Peace 1981-1990, Editor-in-Charge Tore Frängsmyr, Editor Irwin Abrams, World Scientific Publishing Co., Singapore, 1997