Rapid reaction peacekeeping in Congo

The news that the Presidential elections in Congo will go to a run-off between President Joseph Kabila and his rival Jean-Pierre Bemba have sparked three days of fighting in the capital Kinshasa.

It seems as if a tentative agreement has been reached to stop the fighting, and allow the second round of the election to go ahead.

The Congo is home to the UN’s largest peacekeeping mission – 17,000 men who have by and large done a good job of keeping the lid on tensions in the run up to the election.  They’ve not been able to react adequately to this week’s conflict, so it’s good to see that the a group of German and Dutch peacekeepers had been waiting in next door Gabon, just in case of any localised upsurge in violence.

This is the kind of model I think should be adopted for the majority of peacekeeping operations – wherever possible, a lightly armed force on the ground in large numbers, with a heavily armed, well trained force waiting in the wings, ready to intervene rapidly in areas of particular trouble.

3 thoughts on “Rapid reaction peacekeeping in Congo”

  1. So long as they’re not busy raping young girls, of course.

    (Sorry Andy, I realy hate the behaviour of the UN, although I appreciated a lot of the peacekeepers do good work.)

  2. Tim, I think that one of these days I’m going to hve to write something about the good works that the UN does on peacekeeping missions, to see if I can try and change your mind…

    All I can say now is that what troops do on the ground are – I believe – more a reflection of the prevalent culture within their own country’s armed forces than they are to do with the UN. If the ‘home’ army is professional, then by and large, the soldiers on UN duty will be professional also. If the ‘home’ army is seen as a source of patronage, of making money, then troops on UN duty will use their postings to their own personal advantage.

    Admittedly, the UN is almost completely ineffective in opposing bad behaviour from the troops of contributing states. This is mostly because of weaknesses within the UN chain of command (effectively, there is none when it comes to discipline), but also in large part due to the well grounded fear in the UN that if they criticise those few states who are prepared to send troops on peacekeeping missions, they’ll have no-one left to run those peacekeeping missions.

  3. Just take my comments with a pinch of salt, Andy. We’re not far apart on the issue I’m sure, I am just railing against the impression given (not by you) that the UN has some sort of moral authority above all others despite the utter failures in Rwanda (presided over by Kofi himself), Srebrenica, Dafur, oil for food, and the child abuse.

    There is a general impression in the Middle East, and indeed elsewhere, that the UN is some kind of beacon of hope and righteousness as the weak and defenceless ger crushed beneath the evil US-Israeli war machine. On balance, I’d rather trust my life to the US or Israelis than any UN peacekeeping force.

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