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Answering the Peacekeeping Good Advantage

Answering the Peacekeeping Good Advantage

The most common Pro argument run to date claims that if India joins the Security Council (UNSC) that they will contribute more peacekeepers and that peacekeeping is good. This is a very simple and straightforward argument that has a lot of intuitive appeal.

Despite this intuitive appeal, however, the argument has a lot of problems.

First, I’ve never actually seen a piece of evidence that says that if Indian joins the UNSCC that they will contribute more peacekeepers.   Pro teams know this so they (and many briefing handbooks) try to string together a few pieces of evidence in order to suggest that this is true. Their evidence fits into one ore more of the following categories

(a) India supports peacekeeping and has historically contributed the greatest number of troops

(b) When India was a non-permanent member of the UNSC they contributed a lot of troops

© India is considering reducing the number of peacekeepers.

(d) India contributes troops because they want to get on the UNSC.

Pro teams somehow miraculously add these points together to come to the conclusion that India being on the UNSC means they contribute more troops.

This is flawed for a number of reasons.

First, (a), (b), and (c) all demonstrate that India contributes troops because they want to be on the UNSC. Once they get on the UNSC they no longer have a incentive to contribute, as India would be a permanent member. Since they can’t get kicked-off, why give? They’ve given historically and gave more when they were a non-permanent member because they wanted to be a permanent member.

Manish Kumar Yadav, PhD Research Scholar, Department of Political Science, Singhania University Pacheri Bari, Rajasthan, India, 2014, India’s Quest for United Nations Security Council Permanent Seat with Special Reference to its Peace Keeping Credentials

But the large troop contribution does reinforce India’s claim for a Permanent Seat when the UNSC is expanded. Besides, it provides handsome monetary compensation and “International Exposure “to soldiers and accrues a lot of Good Will for India on the Global Stage, Especially in places like the Oil and Mineral Rich Africa, Where the new “Great Game” is now being played

Note: The card also suggests other motivations for continuing to participate in peacekeeping – global prestige and influence in Africa

Another card

Raja Mohan, April, 2013, India and International Peace Operations,

India has been one of the largest contributors to United Nations peace operations since the 1950s.1 Despite this, there has been little debate in the Indian strategic and academic communities about the country’s political commitment to international peace operations. Discussion of the changing nature of international peace operations and its implications for India has been limited to a very small circle in the Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and the Indian Army. While the MEA has in recent years seen participation in international peacekeeping as a valuable instrument in the quest for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council, the military establishment has underlined the professional benefits to itself from the peace operations.

Second, India sees contributing troops as something a developing country, not a great power, does. If India was catapulted to great power status, they would no longer think it is cool for them to contribute peacekeepers.

Anit Mukherjee, Brookings Institute, October 20, 2015, At the crossroads: India and the future of UN peacekeeping in Africa

In recent times however there has been a growing debate about India’s continued role in peacekeeping operations. Many question the benefits accruing to India from its considerable investment of manpower and military resources. Highlighting the “poorly equipped, mandated and governed operations” charac­terising UN peacekeeping, Nitin Pai and Su­shant Singh argue in The Indian Express that continued participation is not commensurate to the results-either through obtaining a seat on the UNSC or in obtaining “great power sta­tus”. Moreover, observing that peacekeeping is mostly carried out by troops from developing countries, they argue that keeping such com­pany means that India “cannot be taken seri­ously as a standalone great power at the UN.”

So, in fact, based on the Pro reasoning is actually stronger to say they would contribute fewer troops.

Beyond these two link turns, the argument suffers many additional weaknesses.

One, there isn’t any evidence that if India reduces its peacekeepers that they wouldn’t be replaced. Other countries contribute peacekeepers and they actually make money providing peacekeepers.

Anit Mukherjee, Brookings Institute, October 20, 2015, At the crossroads: India and the future of UN peacekeeping in Africa

Paradoxically aspects of this debate-specifi­cally regarding the efficacy of UN peacekeep­ing-resonate in some African countries. The failures of UN peacekeeping operations in the 1990’s most visibly in Somalia and Rwanda, led to a reduction in the number of missions and a loss of confidence. There was a feeling that the UN had abdicated its role and this, ac­cording to Kwesi Aning and Festus K. Aubyn, created “a sense of African solidarity in find­ing African solutions to African problems.” These sentiments led the African Union (AU), a fifty-four country group comprising all Afri­can states, except Morocco, to deploy 64,000 peacekeepers since 2004 in numerous missions on the continent including Central Afri­can Republic, Nigeria, Darfur and Somalia. Its current mission in Somalia, called AMISOM, comprises 22,000 peacekeepers and is en­gaged in intense combat with the Al Qae­da linked AI-Shabaab group. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOW­AS), a bloc of fifteen countries, has also un­dertaken peacekeeping missions in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea Bissau. Significantly however these missions are funded almost entirely by donors like the UN, EU or the US and only 2.3 percent of the AU peacekeeping budget comes from its member states.

Two, India won’t quit providing them now because they want to check the power of China. This is why the evidence the Pro reads that predicts India will pull out is flawed.

Williams, 2017, Audrey Williams is the policy programming intern at the Stanley Foundation. She recently graduated from the University of Iowa with a B.A. in political science and French. She will start work in Washington, DC, as a Herbert Scoville Jr. Peace Fellow in the fall, A Smarter Approach , The Future of Indian Peacekeeping, The Courier,

Now half a century after India joined its first peacekeeping mission, the country’s calculus has begun to change—the incentives that first held true for the country are no longer relevant. After decades of missions, the training benefits for India’s soldiers have plateaued, and a Security Council seat may be too ambitious a dream. But a number of factors have kept India from pulling out—maybe the most important as a reaction to the resurgence of China as a world power. While Beijing was against any involvement in peacekeeping operations in the past, it has had a change of heart. The number of Chinese peacekeepers is nowhere near India’s, but it is growing. Much like India in its early peacekeeping days, China was swayed by the opportunities that sending troops abroad provided such as training its soldiers and increasing its standing in the international community.

Three, peacekeeping isn’t very effective.

Institute for democracy & Justice in Haiti, 2017, An Evaluation of the Causes and Results of U.N. Peacekeeper Actions

Inside ‘Peaceland’ In her 2015 book, Peaceland, Severine Autesserre, a professor of political science at Barnard College of Columbia University in the US, writes about a “community of interveners for whom peace is either the primary objective (like peacekeepers) or part of a broader set of goals (such as diplomats or development workers)” who often exist in a parallel world to the people they are meant to serve. She argues that the way in which this community lives, talks and collaborates with locals reinforces “a pervasive power disparity between the interveners and their intended beneficiaries”. The “peacekeeping economy” – in which millions of dollars arrive, circulate between external actors and rarely reach or benefit the local community – emboldens a sense of impunity and superiority among this community of interveners, says Marsha Henry, an associate professor at the London School of Economics’ Gender Institute in the UK, pointing to how peacekeepers and the aid community often live privileged, if precarious, lives in an economy that caters more to their needs than to the development goals of the country they are in. “You have immunity and privilege, and you fly business class, and you have privileges that you never had before, and quickly people begin to internalise this idea that the world is ‘us’ and ‘them’,” explains Paula Donovan, from Aids Free World, a US-based NGO that exposes injustice, abuse and inequality. Kelly-Jo Bluen, a former project leader for international justice at the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation in South Africa, argues that peacekeepers often parachute in with little regard for the local population and with the notion that they are saviours. “The focus becomes one of violence ‘out there’ as opposed to the economies of violence and acts of sexual violence fostered and perpetrated by peacekeepers,” she explains. Interaction with the local population is often discouraged. But Henry argues that there should be more, not less, of it. When interaction does happen, it is often in the form of peacekeepers parading in their armoured vehicles and blue helmets, something she says furthers the “dehumanisation of the host population”. One peacekeeper in the Central African Republic, who did not want to give his name as he was not authorised to talk to the media, told Al Jazeera, that his battalion had been instructed not to talk to or engage with the local population. “It just creates the possibilities for the wrong things to happen … the next thing you know, we are accused of something,” he says.

Some even say that Peacekeeping is bad because it gives armies time to rebuild, increasing killing. Instead, Luttwak argues, conflicts should be allowed to burn out.

Edward Luttwak, 1999, Foreign Affairs, July/August, “Give War a Chance,” DOA: 12-9-14

An unpleasant truth often overlooked is that although war is a great evil, it does have a great virtue: it can resolve political conflicts and lead to peace. This can happen when all belligerents become exhausted or when one wins decisively. Either way the key is that the fighting must continue until a resolution is reached. War brings peace only after passing a culminating phase of violence. Hopes of military success must fade for accommodation to become more attractive than further combat. Since the establishment of the United Nations and the enshrinement of great-power politics in its Security Council, however, wars among lesser powers have rarely been allowed to run their natural course. Instead, they have typically been interrupted early on, before they could burn themselves out and establish the preconditions for a lasting settlement. Cease-fires and armistices have frequently been imposed under the aegis of the Security Council in order to halt fighting. NATO’s intervention in the Kosovo crisis follows this pattern. But a cease-fire tends to arrest war-induced exhaustion and lets belligerents reconstitute and rearm their forces. It intensifies and prolongs the struggle once the cease-fire ends — and it does usually end. This was true of the Arab-Israeli war of 1948-49, which might have come to closure in a matter of weeks if two cease-fires ordained by the Security Council had not let the combatants recuperate. It has recently been true in the Balkans. Imposed cease-fires frequently interrupted the fighting between Serbs and Croats in Krajina, between the forces of the rump Yugoslav federation and the Croat army, and between the Serbs, Croats, and Muslims in Bosnia. Each time, the opponents used the pause to recruit, train, and equip additional forces for further combat, prolonging the war and widening the scope of its killing and destruction. Imposed armistices, meanwhile — again, unless followed by negotiated peace accords — artificially freeze conflict and perpetuate a state of war indefinitely by shielding the weaker side from the consequences of refusing to make concessions for peace.

Fourth, if India joins it might block intervention needed to prevent genocide in the first place.

Council on Foreign Relations, September 24, 2018, The UN Security Council,

Other critics include advocates of R2P, who say the veto gives undue deference to the political interests of the P5, leading to inaction in the face of mass atrocities. Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the UN human rights chief from 2014 to 2018, repeatedly criticized the outsize power of the veto-wielding member states, warning that without institutional change, the United Nations could collapse. But it is not just P5 members who have demonstrated reluctance to use force. Aspirants to permanent-member status, including Brazil, Germany, and India, have generally opposed interventions as violations of sovereignty. While R2P advocates criticize the Security Council and its members for a lack of political will, others question the United Nations’ conflict-management capacity, often citing 1990s peacekeeping crises in Somalia, the former Yugoslavia, and Rwanda.

In fact, adding more vetoing members to the UNSC makes genocide more likely.

Abdual Chowdhary, Member of India’s Parliament, 2015, Why India Should Seek Abolition Of UN Veto Rather Than Permanent Membership. Huffington Post, December 16,

At the heart of all that is wrong with the Security Council, of all that has been responsible for its umpteen and endless failures across the world, there is no factor more responsi- ble than the mechanism of the veto. It is this, more than any other aspect of the UNSC, that has made it into an inert and incapable body that watches helplessly as war, genocide, cultural destruction, unauthorised invasions and intra-state civil wars continue. It is [the veto mechanism], more than any other aspect of the UNSC, that has made it into an inert and incapable body… Broadly speaking, there are two main arguments against the veto: i) It is an anachronistic and undemocratic privilege. ii) It paralyses action, even when absolutely necessary. The undemocratic power of the veto has been opposed right since the UN’s inception. There was outrage that any one of five nations would have the power to override the will of the majority of countries on earth. However despite such widespread opposition the veto was included as the choice for the member states was clear: either the Charter with the veto or no Charter at all. Senator Connally of the USA told the small states during the 1945 San Francisco conference, ”You may, if you wish, go home from this Conference and say that you have defeated the veto. But what will be your answer when you are asked: ’Where is the Charter?’ ” The term ”anachro- nistic” is also frequently used as an adjective because historically the veto (meaning ”I forbid” in Latin) was used by the European monarchy to suppress emerging democratic institutions. King Charles I of England frequently used the veto to quash bills and even dissolve Parliament during the English Civil War. Closer to home, the Charter Act of 1786 as well as the Government of India Acts 1919 and 1935 gave the Governor General of India power to veto legislation. The main flaw of the veto is its tendency to paral- yse action even when it is desperately needed. In the case of Syria, between 2011 to 2015 Russia and China have jointly vetoed four proposals for sanctions against Bashar Al-Assad and a resolution that would have requested the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate crimes against humanity. Similarly from 2001 to 2006, the USA used the veto nine times to protect its ally Israel and block any action on Palestine. This has been part of a larger trend where conflicts involving the great powers have tended to be endlessly prolonged, resulting in unimaginable suffering for the people affected. Dur- ing the Cold War (1947-1991), a staggering 68 and 61 vetoes were used by the USSR and USA respectively, leading to the worsening of then ongoing conflicts. There is a very real danger that the expansion of the Security Council with the veto still in place will make it uĴerly dysfunctional. There is a very real danger that the expansion of the Security Council with the veto still in place will make it uĴerly dysfunctional. The pro- posal for increasing the number of seats along with regional representation will bring a far greater number of diverging interests to the table and if the veto is thrown into the mix it will be a lethal cocktail that will ensure the demise of the UN. One only has to look at the experience of the League of Nations to realise this. Under article 5 (1) of the Covenant of the League of Nations, decisions of the Council required the agreement of all the Members present. This made it virtually impossible for the 15-member Council to function and as a result it was unable to prevent World War II. Extending the veto to new permanent members will ensure that the UN meets the same fate. As second-class citizenship (permanent membership without veto) is unacceptable, the only remaining option is to press for the veto’s abolition.