Are United Nations’ Peacekeepers Missions Effective?
Developing countries in parts of the world that have been stricken by disease and war normally get assistance from the international community through U.N. peacekeeping missions. These are multinational, impartial forces that have proven effective in a number of cases. Each mission is highly complex and requires member states to commit ground troops, resources and be prepared to deal with a wide range of economic, political and social concerns. To learn more about international United Nations’ Peacekeeping Missions, check out the infographic below.
U.N. Operations & Personnel
The United Nations currently has 16 operations with 126,247 personnel serving in those missions. Nearly 80% of personnel are stationed in different countries on the African continent.
Since 1948, a total of 3,367 fatalities have been recorded in U.N operations, 68% of which were either due to illnesses or accident. It is estimated that 78% of the fatalities were military personnel while 10% were local personnel.
$8.47 billion has been approved for the just ended fiscal year (July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015). Out of the 16 operations, 5 got the lion’s share of the budget. They include MUNUSCO in DR Congo ($1.4 billion), UNAMID in Darfur ($1.2 billion), UNMISS in South Sudan ($1.1 billion), MINUSMA in Mali ($831 million) and MINUSCA in the Central African Republic ($629 million).
U.N. Peacekeeping Missions’ Successes
UNMIL (Liberia) is perhaps the most successful U.N. peacekeeping operation on record. The mission was active during both the first and second Liberian civil wars, from 1989-1996 and 1999-2006 respectively. These civil wars left over 200,000 people dead, 500,000 internally displaced and 850,000 refugees. From December 2003 to October 2004, UNMIL together with other organizations managed to disarm and demobilize 101,496 active combatants and their support structures. In the year 2006, a U.N. public opinion survey was conducted in which 94% of Liberians said UNMIL helped to improve the security situation in the country, 90% said implementing the peace agreement was very good, 92% of respondents said retraining of the police by UNMIL was very good, while 88% said UNMIL improved human rights conditions in the country.
UNTAET & UNMIT in East Timor is another success story of United Nations’ peacekeeping operations. From 1975 to 1999, Indonesia occupied East Timor. As a result, over 100,000 Timorese died. On August 1999, the United Nations supervised an independence referendum. 78% of voters voted for independence from Indonesia. Two months after the referendum, UNTAET (United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor) was set up after the International Stabilization Force expelled militias and balanced territory. In the year 2002, UNTAET conducted the first presidential election and East Timor formally became an independent state. After frequent political uprisings, the ISF was dispatched in 2006 to stabilize the country. A U.N. public opinion survey carried out in 2008 in East Timor revealed that East Timorese preferred U.N. peacekeepers over the International Stabilization Force.
Controversy: Cholera Outbreak in Haiti
The United Nations has also been involved in controversies, the most notable being the cholera outbreak in Haiti. When the Haitian president was overthrown in 1990, the U.N. deployed a multinational peacekeeping force to stabilize the volatile country. In 2004, MINUSTAH (United Nations’ Stabilization Mission in Haiti) was set up after another outbreak of violence. Up to January 12, 2010, Haiti was making positive strides towards recovery until a massive 7.0 earthquake struck. A week later, the U.N. deployed an additional 2,000 troops and 1,500 police to secure relief efforts. This increase was informed by the collapse of the necessary infrastructure in the country. In October, 2010, the United Nations deployed Nepalese peacekeepers who were stationed near a tributary of the Artibonite River, which is the country’s main source of drinking, bathing and cooking water as well as its longest river. A few weeks later, there was an outbreak of cholera, which epidemiologists traced to the Nepalese base. The outbreak was attributed to improper disposal of human waste, which contaminated the water supply. The U.N has never admitted responsibility for the outbreak even after multiple lawsuits by victims and their relatives. Currently, Haitians are still suffering from cholera with 140 people already dead and 16,696 cases reported. So far, a total of 13,304 people have hospitalized.
U.N. Strength Reflected by Member States
The top ten troop contributing countries in current missions are: Bangladesh (9,380), Pakistan (8,797), India (8,102), Ethiopia (7,862), Rwanda (5,591), Nepal (5,332), Senegal (3,575), Ghana (3,156), China (3,084) and Nigeria (2,940).
The top five financial contributors between 2013-2015 are: United States (28.38%), Japan (10.83%), France (7.22%), Germany (7.14%) and the UK (6.68%).
Peacekeeping soldiers are paid by their own governments according to salary scale and national rank. The United Nations’ reimbursement rate per soldier per month currently stands at $1,028.
Global Impact of U.N. Missions
A 2014 study of U.N. missions in 39 conflict-stricken countries between 1980-2010 found that these missions increased GDP per capita by 1.08% to 1.92% on average. They also have a positive impact on health as 194 member states endorsed the GVAP (Global Vaccine Action Plan) in 2012, which aims to attain 90% DTP3 vaccination coverage in all member states by 2015.
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