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In addition to the five permanent members with veto power on the Security Council-Britain, China, France, Soviet Union, and United States-the first elected members of the Security Council were Australia, Brazil, Egypt, Mexico, Netherlands, and Poland. Iranians complained that the Soviet troops had not withdrawn from Iran by March 2, 1946 as agreed in the 1942 Tripartite Treaty; but after the Soviets promised that they would evacuate by May 6, the Iranians withdrew their complaint.
Although the Ukrainian representative of the Soviet Union raised the issue of violence on the Greece-Albania border on August 24, 1946, when the United States proposed a commission to investigate, it was vetoed by the Soviet Union. On December 2 Greece complained to the Security Council that Communist guerrillas in northern Greece were being assisted by Albania, Yugoslavia, and Bulgaria. The Soviet Union did not block the Commission that was sent at the beginning of 1947, though they disagreed with its reports and vetoed resolutions. So the United States took the case to the General Assembly, which on October 21, 1947 by majority vote established the United Nations Special Committee on the Balkans (UNSCOB) to be composed from all eleven nations of the Security Council, though the USSR and Poland did not participate. After Yugoslavia became more independent and left the Cominform organization in 1948, the Greek Communists received little support; UNSCOB was terminated in 1951.
After Japan surrendered, Indonesia declared its independence on August 17, 1945; but the Netherlands, its former colonial overlord, tried to regain control, and the issue was brought to the Security Council, which on August 1, 1947 called upon both sides to cease hostilities and accept arbitration. A Consular Commission drawn from Australia, Belgium, France, the United Kingdom, and the United States went to observe the cease-fire. After fighting began again in late 1948, the Security Council again requested a cease-fire and on January 28, 1949 asked the Consular Commission to provide military observers (Milobs). With no more than 63 persons at any time they were able to mark the cease-fire lines, supervise troop withdrawals, stop infiltration between lines, and investigate violations and damages to rubber plantations. By the end of 1949 the disputed territory had been transferred to the sovereignty of Indonesia.
By 1947 the failure of the Security Council to organize the
forces necessary for the collective security framework in which
disarmament could have been established allowed the Cold War arms
race to dominate the international scene. Meanwhile the permanent
members of the Security Council were getting around their partial
ban of the veto if they were a party to a dispute simply by not
calling it a "dispute."
In April 1947 British diplomats brought the issue of the League mandate over Palestine to the United Nations, and the Assembly appointed a Special Committee, which proposed partition in November; but the plan was rejected by Palestinians and Arab States. In the last month of 1947 and the first month of 1948 the UN reported 2,778 casualties in Palestine (1,462 Arabs, 1,106 Jews, and 181 British). After repeated calls for a cease-fire in April, on the 23rd the Security Council established a Truce Commission for Palestine from representatives of Belgium, France, and the United States to supervise the requested cease-fire. On May 14, 1948 the General Assembly terminated the Palestine Commission and appointed a UN Mediator. The next day the United Kingdom relinquished its Mandate, and on that same day the Jewish Agency proclaimed the state of Israel. As the British withdrew their forces, Arabs invaded. On May 22 the Security Council called for a cease-fire within 36 hours and ordered the truce commission to report on compliance. A week later the Security Council authorized military advisors to supervise observance. As the war continued, the number of military advisors grew to 572 and became known as the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO).
A four-week truce expired on July 9, and Arab governments refused
to extend it. As fighting erupted again, the Security Council
ordered a cease-fire and threatened Chapter VII action; both sides
complied. On September 17, 1948 the UN Mediator, Count Bernadotte,
and a senior French observer were assassinated in Jerusalem by
the Jewish terrorist Stern organization, and Ralph Bunche became
acting Mediator. On November 16 the Security Council ordered an
armistice, and all agreed except Egypt, which accepted it in January.
Between February and July 1949 Israel made separate bilateral
agreements with Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria. The area of
the partition that was to be Palestine was divided between Israel
and Jordan, which got the West Bank, while Egypt gained the Gaza
strip. Israel was admitted into the United Nations on May 11,
1949. The Mediator role was ended in August, but the UNTSO continued.
India and Pakistan gained their independence from Britain on
August 15, 1947, but Kashmir was unsure which nation to join.
When Muslims from Pakistan invaded in October, Kashmir's Maharaja
asked India for troops and agreed to join India. On the first
day of 1948 India went to the Security Council and accused Pakistan
of threatening international peace. Pakistan argued that Kashmir's
accession to India was illegal and requested a plebiscite under
United Nations supervision. India agreed, but only if peace was
restored. On January 20 the Security Council established the United
Nations Commission on India and Pakistan (UNCIP), but they did
not arrive in Kashmir for six months. In August UNCIP proposed
a cease-fire and submitted new proposals in December. On the first
day of 1949 both India and Pakistan agreed on a cease-fire, and
it was formalized two weeks later. The United Nations Military
Observers Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) was implemented
in February. On July 27, 1949 the Karachi Agreement established
the cease-fire line, and any disputes were to be decided by the
Commission's Military Adviser. The Commission was terminated in
1950, but UNMOGIP was still there in 1965 when hostilities broke
After Mao Zedong's Communists took over the Chinese mainland and proclaimed the People's Republic of China on October 1, 1949, Soviet delegates walked out of most UN bodies as a protest against China still being represented by the Nationalist regime that held only Taiwan. Norwegian Secretary-General Trygve Lie tried to get the Beijing regime seated, but the United States refused to recognize them as the government of China. During the spring of 1950 Secretary-General Lie traveled to the capitals of the big four powers on a peace mission to improve the effectiveness of the United Nations. He proposed the following ten points: veto limitation on the Security Council pacific settlement procedures, international control of atomic energy, arms limitation, a UN armed force, universal membership in the UN, private and intergovernmental technical and economic development, more use of the UN's specialized agencies, human rights development, peaceful decolonization, and accelerated development of enforceable world law. Unfortunately these ideals soon gave way to the crisis in Korea.
The armies of the United States and Soviet Union had occupied Korea in 1945 to accept the surrender of Japanese troops on each side of the 38th parallel. The United Nations Temporary Commission on Korea (UNTCOK) was established in November 1947. The next year UNTCOK failed to persuade the Soviet Union to withdraw its troops from northern Korea, and North Koreans refused to cooperate with UNTCOK. Thus they did not participate in the elections that took place in South Korea on May 10, 1948. The next year the UN General Assembly established UNCOK to continue the work of UNTCOK, and their peace-observation function reported that on June 25, 1950 North Koreans using Russian T-34 tanks invaded South Korea. The United States also reported the attack by North Korea. Secretary-General Lie considered this attack a violation of the UN Charter and asked the Security Council to take steps to reestablish peace. Since Soviet delegates were boycotting the Council because of China, it was able to vote nine to zero with Yugoslavia abstaining to direct North Korea to withdraw its troops north of the 38th parallel, requesting states to assist the UN and refrain from helping North Korea. North Korea ignored the resolution, and President Truman sent US troops to South Korea.
On July 7 the Security Council established a Unified Command under the United States, and Truman appointed General Douglas MacArthur as UN Commander. Fourteen other nations also sent troops to support South Korea. The UN forces were on the defensive in South Korea until Gen. MacArthur led a landing at Inchon on September 15, 1950. UN forces retook Seoul and by September 30 they crossed north of the 38th parallel. On that day Secretary-General Lie suggested settlement terms; but these were ignored by MacArthur, and on October 7 the United States got the General Assembly to adopt a resolution supporting UN forces moving north of the 38th parallel. The next day MacArthur sent North Korea an ultimatum to cooperate in establishing a unified government. As South Korea's forces neared the Yalu River and the borders with China and the Soviet Union, Chinese "volunteer" forces aiding North Koreans began pushing them back south. On October 24 MacArthur started using non-Korean troops, but they were driven back south of the 38th parallel.
In November 1950 the western powers also took advantage of Russia's absence from the Security Council to pass the "Uniting for Peace" resolution, which enables the General Assembly to recommend collective measures for maintaining peace if the Security Council does not fulfill its peacekeeping responsibility because of lack of unanimity among its permanent members. The USSR returned to the Security Council so that it could make effective use of its veto. Lie contacted the Chinese to negotiate a cease-fire, but the Chinese delegation left New York in December. By the end of 1950 the North Korean and Chinese forces had regained Pyongyang and Seoul. UN forces fought back, and by March 14, 1951 they had retaken Seoul once again. In the spring see-saw battles were fought along the 38th parallel as Secretary-General Lie and the Security Council called for a cease-fire.
On June 23, 1951 the Soviet Union's UN ambassador Jacob Malik
suggested discussions for an armistice, and two days later the
People's Daily of Beijing endorsed the idea. On June 27
Soviet foreign minister Gromyko declared that the ceasefire should
be separate from political problems. Armistice talks began on
July 10. Amid continued fighting in a military stale-mate, negotiations
dragged on for two years as Americans were accused of war crimes,
and controversy whether prisoners of war were to be repatriated
voluntarily or not delayed agreement. Guerrilla warfare was countered
with aerial bombing of North Korea. In 1953 US President Eisenhower's
threat to use tactical nuclear weapons eventually stimulated agreement,
and the POW issue was settled on June 8. Ten days later South
Korean president Syngman Rhee allowed 27,000 North Korean prisoners
to escape. North Koreans complained, and the United States agreed
to enforce the armistice that was signed on July 27, 1953. In
the three-year Korean War about three million Koreans died; about
one million Chinese were killed; and 54,246 Americans lost their
lives. This bloodiest of the hot wars during the Cold War alienated
both superpowers from Secretary-General Trygve Lie, and he was
replaced by Swedish Dag Hammarskjold on April 10, 1953. As of
2003 the United States still had about 37,000 troops at the 38th
parallel enforcing the armistice, but in the next two years many
forces were removed to support the military occupation of Iraq.
On July 19, 1956 Secretary of State John Foster Dulles announced that the United States would not finance Egypt's Aswan Dam, and a week later President Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal Company. France and the United Kingdom took their case to the Security Council on September 23, and the next day Egypt accused Britain and France of endangering the peace. Most of the canal's shareholders were British and French, and English prime minister Anthony Eden ordered an Anglo-French invasion of Egypt while the foreign ministers of the three nations were negotiating a six-point agreement mediated by Secretary-General Hammarskjold. President Dwight Eisenhower rejected the use of force, but on October 29 Israel began the attack by parachuting a battalion into Sinai. The next day the United States requested a Security Council meeting. Then according to their plan, the British and French called upon both Egypt and Israel to retreat ten miles from the canal or they would send troops, although Israel's forces were still more than ten miles from the canal. Egypt rejected the ultimatum, claiming it was defending its sovereign territory. Two days later Anglo-French air forces attacked Egyptian air bases.
On November 2, 1956 the UN General Assembly passed the resolution proposed by Dulles ordering the parties to withdraw to the 1949 armistice boundaries and cease fire so that the canal could reopen. On the 5th the UN General Assembly established the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF). By November 7 British forces had landed at Port Said, and French troops had occupied Port Fouad; but the British government agreed to the cease-fire that started that day. On November 24 the General Assembly called for the withdrawal of all British and French forces, and their governments agreed to remove them by December 22. The United States pressured compliance from Israel, which delayed withdrawing from the Gaza strip and Sharm el Shaikh at the strategic Strait of Tiran. Israel would not allow UN troops on their territory, and thus they were all deployed on the Egyptian side of the border. UNEF was drawn from ten countries and ranged from three to six thousand during its mission for ten and a half years.
During the Suez crisis police fired on a crowd of peaceful demonstrators at a Budapest radio station on October 23, 1956. Soviet tanks and troops soon entered Budapest, but ferocious Hungarian resistance caused them to withdraw on October 29. However, a massive Soviet invasion began on November 4, and within four days the uprising had been brutally suppressed. The UN Security Council met on the 4th, but the Soviet delegate vetoed an American resolution condemning the intervention. The General Assembly also condemned the invasion, but the Secretary-General could do little in this sphere of influence dominated by a superpower.
In February 1958 Egypt and Syria formed the United Arab Republic (UAR). In May the murder of a dissident Christian newspaper editor provoked a civil war in Lebanon between those supporting pro-western President Camille Chamoun and the mostly Muslims who opposed him. Armed resistance to the government stimulated Chamoun to ask for military assistance from the United States on May 13. President Eisenhower agreed but said he would not support an unconstitutional second term for Chamoun. On May 22 Lebanon's UN delegate asked the Security Council to look into infiltration from Syria. After a pause to see if the Arab League could solve the problem, on June 10 the Security Council created the United Nations Observation Group in Lebanon (UNOGIL). The Soviet Union was opposed but abstained.
After the pro-western King Faisal of Iraq was overthrown by
a military coup on July 14, 1958 Chamoun asked for American military
support; at the same time Jordan's King Hussein likewise asked
for British help. US Marines landed in Beirut the next day. Two
days later British troops flew into Jordan, and the US proposed
transforming UNOGIL into an armed peacekeeping force; but the
Soviet Union vetoed it. In August the United States and United
Kingdom both recognized the new government of Iraq and sent identical
letters to the UN General Assembly offering to withdraw their
troops. By December 1958 UNOGIL had withdrawn from Lebanon.
In May 1960 Patrice Lumumba's party won a majority in both houses of the Congo, and the king of Belgium invited him to form a government. On June 30 the Republic of the Congo became independent, but a few days later an army mutiny occurred. On July 10 Belgian troops were deployed, and Lumumba appealed to Under Secretary-General Ralph Bunche. The next day pro-western Moishe Tshombé declared the secession of the rich mineral province of Katanga. Congo government ministers asked the US ambassador to provide American troops to restore order. By the 14th the Security Council had authorized Secretary-General Hammarskjold to provide military assistance as needed and called upon Belgium to withdraw its troops, but by July 19 ten thousand Belgian troops had returned to the Congo, ostensibly to protect Belgian lives and property. While Lumumba was traveling in November, he was arrested and apparently killed while in custody. The Soviets then called for the dismissal of Hammarskjold and a withdrawal of UN forces, but they gained no support.
Secretary-General Hammarskjold sought a tougher mandate and went to the Congo himself, but on September 17, 1961 he was killed in a plane crash while going to meet with Tshombé. On November 3 U Thant of Burma became acting Secretary-General, reflecting the sharp increase of new nations from Asia and Africa that expanded UN membership from 50 states to 103. That month the United Nations Operation in the Congo (ONUC) was further expanded by the Security Council to support the Central Government of the Republic of the Congo while condemning the illegal secessionist activities of the Katanga revolt. A year later U Thant was nominated by the Security Council and elected by the General Assembly to a regular five-year term. U Thant developed a plan for drafting a federal constitution for the Congo, and US President John Kennedy and Belgian foreign minister Paul-Henri Spaak threatened Katanga with severe economic sanctions if progress was not made toward unification.
The next month in December 1962 U Thant asked for a boycott of key minerals purchased from Katanga unless duties were paid to the Adoula government at Leopoldville. When fighting broke out that Tshombé could not stop, UN troops occupied Elisabethville and Kaminaville on January 3, 1963 with little resistance and few casualties. The UN continued to have military success, and withdrawal of its troops was debated. The United States and other western interests asked that the UN remain while Congolese troops were retrained; they were finally withdrawn in June 1964 as the Congo became an independent nation. ONUC was the most complex UN peacekeeping operation so far, employing nearly 20,000 troops, lasting four years, and costing about $400,000,000. The Soviet Union, as with UNEF, refused to pay its share. The United Nations was nearly bankrupted, and the United States threatened a resolution to deny the Soviet Union voting rights; but they promised to pay their dues.
Another decolonization effort in Indonesia was not as controversial.
In October 1961 the Netherlands asked the UN General Assembly
to administer West New Guinea during its transition to independence,
but there was no acting Secretary-General at that time. In December,
Indonesia's Sukarno began infiltrating forces into the region
and proclaimed that "West Irian" would join Indonesia
in 1962. Pressure from the United States and a United Nations
buffer enabled the Dutch to make a graceful withdrawal. In September
1962 the UN General Assembly endorsed the Dutch-Indonesian accord
of the previous month. By November the Dutch forces had withdrawn,
and on the last day of 1962 the Dutch flag was replaced by the
Indonesian flag. The UN Temporary Executive Authority (UNTEA)
transferred administrative control to the Indonesian government
on May 1, 1963. Almost all of the 1608 troops used in the UN Security
Force (UNSF) were from Pakistan. However, the vote in 1969 that
brought West New Guinea formally into Indonesia was dominated
by Indonesian authorities.
During the Cuban missile crisis Secretary-General U Thant sent identical letters to US President Kennedy and Soviet Chairman Khrushchev on October 24, 1962. Khrushchev accepted his proposal the next day. U Thant then asked him to keep Soviet ships away from the blockade, and again Khrushchev agreed, criticizing the United States for its "piratical measures." U Thant mediated the understanding that the Soviets would withdraw their missiles from Cuba if the United States gave assurances not to invade nor support an invasion of the island. After this dangerous crisis, both superpower leaders thanked the Secretary-General for his mediation.
After Yemen's Imam Ahmed bin Yahya died on September 19, 1962, a civil war broke out in Yemen; as the military tried to take control with Egyptian support for republicans, Saudi Arabia and Jordan assisted the royalists. In November, President Kennedy proposed a phased withdrawal of the Egyptian, Saudi, and Jordanian forces, but neither Nasser nor the Saudis would agree. Yemen's royalist diplomats at the United Nations sent a letter to Secretary-General U Thant on November 27 asking for an investigation to see if Cairo had instigated the military coup. In February 1963 U Thant sent Ralph Bunche on a fact-finding mission. On April 29 U Thant announced that Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt had all asked for UN intervention, and on June 11 the Security Council established the United Nations Yemen Observation Mission (UNYOM). However, the civil war continued after UNYOM ended its mission in September 1964; the royalists were still powerful while about 40,000 Egyptian troops were in Yemen and were increasing.
Cyprus gained its independence from Britain in August 1960; but on November 30, 1963 President Makarios, the Greek archbishop, proposed constitutional amendments that would reduce the influence of the minority Turks. Three weeks later fighting broke out in Nicosia, and Turkey mobilized military forces to aid Turkish Cypriots. Within three days the governments of Britain, Greece, and Turkey had organized peacekeeping forces under British command and began to negotiate in January. Cyprus appealed to the UN Security Council in January and was joined in this by Britain the next month. On March 4, 1964 the Security Council established the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP). However, on July 15 the Greek military dictatorship sponsored a take-over by the Cypriot National Guard to replace President Makarios, and five days later the Turkish military intervened also, citing the 1960 Treaty of Guarantees. The UN Security Council met and called for a cease-fire to begin on July 22, though the fighting around the Nicosia airport did not stop until the 24th. UNFICYP continues to monitor the cease-fire, though additional crises occurred in 1967 and 1974.
After thirty years of a Trujillo dynasty, Juan Bosch was elected President of the Dominican Republic in December 1962, but he was removed by a military coup the following September. In April 1965 Bosch and others led an uprising to overthrow the military junta, causing a civil war. On April 25 the United States began sending in 22,500 military officers, claiming they were to protect US citizens and property, but actually they were preventing the radical Bosch from returning to power. The Organization of American States (OAS) justified the intervention after it occurred. The Soviet Union complained at the UN Security Council, which called for a cease-fire on May 14. However, the US made the UN mission difficult, showing once again that the UN could do little within the sphere of a superpower.
In Kashmir fighting broke out again when armed civilians from
Pakistan crossed the cease-fire line in August 1965. The UN Security
Council passed five resolutions to try to stop the fighting, and
U Thant made several appeals. On September 17 he suggested invoking
Chapter VII of the UN Charter, declaring a failure to comply with
the cease-fire order a breach of the peace. Five days later a
cease-fire became mostly effective, though sporadic battles continued
until January 1966. UNMOGIP was increased from 45 to 102 officers,
and 90 more were sent in by October 14 as the United Nations India-Pakistan
Observation Mission (UNIPOM). Pakistan and India agreed to withdraw
their troops by February 25; UNIPOM was disbanded in March, and
UNMOGIP was reduced back to 44 observers along the cease-fire
line. UNMOGIP had to stop a conflict again in 1971, and as of
2005 it is still monitoring the tense cease-fire line between
Pakistan and India.
In November 1966 troops from Israel raided Jordanian villages, and in April 1967 they bombarded Syrians in the demilitarized zone south of the Sea of Galilee. Further incidents were blamed on Syria by Israel prime minister Levi Eshkol on May 11. Two days later the Soviet Union advised the Egyptian government to anticipate an Israeli invasion of Syria, though later it was recognized that this was a false alarm. On May 16 Egypt's chief of staff Fawzi asked the UNEF commander to withdraw his troops. Recognizing Egypt's right to make this request, Secretary-General U Thant agreed, and after being there more than ten years, the UNEF troops began leaving the Sinai on May 29. While they were still withdrawing, on June 5, 1967 Israel launched a surprise attack on airfields in several Arab countries, destroying most of these air forces while they were still on the ground. Then within a week Israel's army invaded its neighbors, capturing all the West Bank by the Jordan River and Jerusalem from Jordan, occupying the Golan Heights in Syria, and taking the Gaza Strip, the Sinai peninsula, and Sharm el-Sheikh from Egypt. UN Security Council demands for a cease-fire had been ignored, and the United States was not willing to cooperate in a settlement. Fifteen United Nations officers were killed before they were able to evacuate Egypt by June 17.
The UN General Assembly in July declared Israel's unification of Jerusalem illegal. On November 22 the UN Security Council passed Resolution 242 calling for the "withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict" and for
Termination of all claims or states of belligerency
and respect for and acknowledgement of the sovereignty,
territorial integrity and political independence
of every State in the area and their right to live in peace
within secure and recognized boundaries
free from threats or acts of force.1
The landmark resolution also affirmed the necessity of guaranteeing the freedom of navigation in international waters, "achieving a just settlement of the refugee problem," and gaining territorial inviolability by establishing demilitarized zones.
On October 6, 1973 on the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur the Egyptian army attacked Israeli forces on the east bank of the Suez Canal while Syrian forces attacked Israeli positions on the Golan Heights. The Egyptian army broke through the Bar Lev line the next day, and neither side was willing to consider a cease-fire. The United States requested a UN Security Council meeting on the 8th. Jordan entered the war; but Israel, aided by US supplies of ammunition, had surrounded the Egyptian army by October 15, and in the north their army was approaching Damascus. On October 20 Saudi king Faisal announced the first oil embargo against the United States and the Netherlands. US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger flew to Moscow to negotiate, and the two superpowers took their resolution to the UN Security Council on October 21. The next day the Council adopted Resolution 338 calling for a cease-fire and immediate termination of all military activity.
Fighting continued, and two days later Soviet leader Brezhnev sent US President Nixon a letter threatening unilateral action if the United States did not agree to a joint US-Soviet force to implement the cease-fire. Washington leaders put American forces on a higher stage of alert and warned Egypt's Sadat they would pull out of the peace talks with Israel if Soviet forces intervened. Sadat then changed his request from US-Soviet forces to a UN peacekeeping force. On October 25 the Security Council Resolution 340 demanded an immediate cease-fire and that the parties return to the positions held as of October 22. Kissinger mediated an agreement between the military leaders of Israel and Egypt that was signed on November 11, and UNEF II began its peacekeeping operations four days later. Syria and Israel signed an agreement on May 31, 1974 that created three zones monitored by the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF). US President Jimmy Carter mediated a peace treaty between Israel and Egypt that resulted in Israeli forces withdrawing from the Sinai on May 23, 1979, and UNEF II's mandate ended two months later. However, UNDOF is still supervising the Golan Heights as of 2005.
The Cairo Agreement signed by Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) chairman Yasser Arafat and Lebanon's chief of staff on November 3, 1969 was supposed to regulate the armed Palestinians in Lebanon, but the PLO conducted raids across the Israeli border. On June 1, 1976 Syria broke a tacit agreement with Israel when they invaded Lebanon with troops to intervene in the civil war on the side of the Christians. On March 11, 1978 PLO forces seized a bus near Haifa and in a battle with Israeli security forces killed 37 Israelis. Three days later Prime Minister Menachem Begin retaliated by ordering the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) to invade southern Lebanon. US ambassador Andrew Young sponsored a UN Security Council resolution calling for a cease-fire, withdrawal of Israeli forces, and a UN peacekeeping force to supervise this. Resolution 425 was adopted on March 19, establishing the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) with 4,000 troops that were increased to 6,000 in May.
On April 13, 1982 Israel's representative at the United Nations
complained to the Security Council that two PLO terrorists had
tried to bring large quantities of explosives into Israel. Eight
days later Israeli aircraft began attacking PLO targets in Lebanon.
On the same day Secretary-General Pérez de Cuellar appealed
for a cessation of hostilities. On May 9 Israel's air force again
attacked the PLO in Lebanon. On June 6 IDF Chief of Staff Eitan
gave UNIFIL General Callaghan thirty minutes warning that Israel
was going to invade Lebanon. UNIFIL troops were ordered to stop
the invading army but were overrun within 24 hours. The next evening
Arafat informed the Secretary-General that the Lebanese-Palestinian
command would comply with the Security Council resolution. UNIFIL
attempted to fulfill its mission despite the Israeli occupation.
The IDF withdrew from Beirut in September 1983 and began to withdraw
from Lebanon in February 1985. UNIFIL is still in operation.
After its third war with Britain in 1919 Afghanistan became an independent kingdom, which was replaced by a republic in 1973. The Marxist People's Democratic Party (PDPA) seized power in Afghanistan five years later. Reforms of old religious and social institutions were resisted in the countryside. After Prime Minister Hafizullah Amin had the Afghanistan President murdered, the Soviet army invaded on December 27, 1979 and installed Babrak Karmal as prime minister. The UN Security Council met in January 1980 but could not pass a resolution. The General Assembly recognized the Karmal government in Kabul but condemned the invasion by a vote of 104 to 18. On May 14 the Kabul regime proposed the four points that eventually became the basis of the Geneva accords, namely, withdrawal of foreign troops, noninterference in domestic politics, international guarantees, and the return of refugees to Afghanistan. UN Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim sent Pérez de Cuellar to Afghanistan in 1981, and he got the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan to accept the four-point plan.
However, Islamic mujahideen continued to fight the Soviet army from the countryside. Resistance bases in Pakistan directed the guerrilla campaign which was supported by American weapons, especially after the Soviets started using special forces in the spring of 1985. Finally, three years after Mikhail Gorbachev became the leader of the Soviet Union, the Geneva Accords were signed on April 14, 1988 and were implemented a month later by the United Nations Good Offices Mission to Afghanistan and Pakistan (UNGOMAP). The Soviet Union still had 103,000 troops at 18 garrisons in 17 of Afghanistan's thirty provinces, and with the Afghan army of 50,000 they held all the major cities and towns in Afghanistan. The fourth Geneva Accord resulted in the withdrawal of half the Soviet troops by August and the remainder by February 1989. After the attempted coup of 1991 in the Soviet Union, the Russians and the Americans agreed to end their military assistance to forces in Afghanistan in 1992.
The Shah of Iran and Vice President Saddam Hussein of Iraq signed the Algiers Treaty in March 1975, agreeing to settle border disputes and allowing Iranians the Shatt al-Arab waterway. As a gesture of good faith to the Shah, in 1978 Iraq deported the exiled Ayatollah Khomeini to France. After the Shah was overthrown on February 11, 1979, Khomeini came to power in Iran and still resented Saddam Hussein for having deported him. Iraq complained that Iran had not withdrawn from the disputed territory according to the Algiers Treaty. On September 10, 1980 Iraqi forces moved into the disputed territories in Khuzistan and a week later abrogated the Algiers Treaty. The day after notifying UN Secretary-General Waldheim on September 21, Iraq attacked Iran with its air force and invaded with a large army. On the 28th the UN Security Council called for an end to the use of force; but Iran rejected the resolution because Iraq was not named as the aggressor. The Soviet Union stopped supplying arms to Baghdad, and by July 1982, when the Security Council passed two resolutions for a cease-fire, the larger Iranian army had pushed the battle-lines back into Iraqi territory.
Concerned about the fundamentalist Shi'i Iranians, Gulf Arabs began supporting Iraq. France loaned Iraq money to buy billions of dollars worth of arms from them; Moscow resumed selling Iraq weapons; and the United States allowed arms sales and provided military intelligence to Iraq even after Iraq used poison gas in 1983 to overcome the Iranian superiority in numbers. Washington resumed diplomatic relations with Iraq in 1984. The next year the United States with Israeli help secretly sold weapons to Iran in order to free American hostages and used the profits to provide weapons illegally to the Contras fighting the Sandinista government of Nicaragua. Both the Soviet Union and the United States tried to protect Kuwaiti oil tankers. The UN Security Council passed Resolution 598 to try to stop the war on July 20, 1987. A year later the US cruiser Vincennes mistakenly shot down an Iranian Airbus, killing 290 civilians, but unpopular Iran could not get the UN to condemn the United States for this crime. However, Iran then accepted Resolution 598, and the Security Council began implementing it with the United Nations Iran-Iraq Military Observer Group (UNIIMOG) in August 1988.
Even if the veto could be circumvented, the capabilities of nuclear weapons made action against an offending superpower too risky, as the reluctance to intervene in Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968 made clear. Yet UN Secretary-General U Thant criticized Russian intervention in Czechoslovakia and American involvement in Vietnam. The deterrence of nuclear weapons essentially replaced the collective system of deterrence if the nuclear powers were involved. After the Korean War fiasco, the Cold War prevented the use of the large powers' forces as United Nations police, which was the original intention, because of mutual fear. Instead the forces of small countries were usually employed to stop small wars and hostilities in such places as Palestine, Pakistan-India, Indonesia, Congo, Cyprus, Israel and the Sinai, Syria, and Lebanon. The UN supported decolonization, and economic sanctions were imposed on Rhodesia and South Africa because of their flagrant violations of human rights.
The United Nations was powerless to mediate the conflicts in Central America until the Cold War declined in the late 1980s. In August 1989 Nicaragua's Sandinista government agreed to conditions for national elections in exchange for demobilization of the Contra rebels. The United Nations Observer Group in Central America (ONUCA) was established on November 7. Honduras and the other Central American countries also wanted the Contras demobilized, and on April 19, 1990 they signed the Managua Agreements. Contras surrendered their weapons, uniforms, and ammunition to the ONUCA and received a demobilization certificate, designer jeans and a shirt, and a food ration from an organization co-sponsored by the United Nations and the Organization of American States (OAS). By June 22,000 Contras had been demobilized, and the UN's security zones were abolished.
On July 26, 1990 the government of El Salvador and the resistance group Frente Farabundo Marti para la Liberacion Nacional (FMLN) signed the Agreement on Human Rights at San Jose, Costa Rica, and on April 27, 1991 both sides signed an agreement for constitutional reforms to be presented in the Legislative Assembly of El Salvador. The United Nations Observer Mission in El Salvador (ONUSAL) began its work on July 26, and on January 16, 1992 the two sides signed a Peace Agreement at Chapultepec Castle in Mexico City. ONUSAL supervised the elections of March and April 1994.
After 36 years of conflict a Guatemala peace agreement was
finally signed in December 1996, and the United Nations Verification
Mission in Guatemala (MINUGUA) verified the human rights agreement
and the cease-fire as the Unidad Revolucionaria Nacional Guatemalteca
(URNG) combatants were demobilized.
During World War I South Africa occupied the German colony of South West Africa and was given the League mandate over it; but after World War II, South Africa refused to accept UN authority and tried to annex the territory. Efforts began for independence, but the United Nations did not revoke South Africa's mandate until 1966, and five years later the International Court of Justice ruled that South Africa's occupation was illegal. After the Caetano regime of Portugal fell in 1974, its former colonies became independent as Angola and Mozambique with Marxist governments. A civil war broke out in Angola the next year as Portugal withdrew; the government was supported militarily by Cuba and the Soviet Union, while the United States and South Africa aided rebel groups.
Meanwhile South Africa tried and failed to impose a non-Marxist apartheid government in Namibia (South West Africa). In 1976 the five western nations of Canada, France, Britain, United States, and West Germany formed the Contact Group to negotiate a settlement that was proposed to the UN Security Council two years later. Although the Council adopted the plan in a resolution that year, more than a decade of negotiation passed before the United Nations Transition Assistance Group (UNTAG) was implemented in April 1989. Elections were held in independent Namibia on November 1, and a week later half of Cuba's 50,000 troops had left with those remaining north of the 13th parallel.
The United Nations Angola Verification Mission (UNAVEM) also began with the signing of peace accords by South Africa, Angola, and Cuba on December 22, 1988, and its mission ended when the last Cuban troops were withdrawn two months early in May 1991. UNAVEM II was deployed the next month and was to last until November 1992, but it was extended. In Mozambique, President Chissano, who was elected in 1986, and Afonso Dhlakama signed the General Peace Agreement in Rome on October 4, 1992, and the United Nations Operation in Mozambique (ONUMOZ) began monitoring it in 1993. Elections were held in Mozambique the next year and were declared free and fair by ONUMOZ, which left Mozambique before the end of 1994. In Angola signing of the Lusaka Protocol on November 20, 1994 brought about a cease-fire two days later, and UNAVEM III was implemented in February 1995. Its mandate ended in 1997, and it was replaced by the United Nations Observer Mission in Angola (MONUA) until February 1999.
After Spain withdrew from the Western Sahara in 1976, Morocco was given two-thirds of the territory and Mauretania one-third. That year a Popular Front (POLISARIO) declared independence as the Saharan Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) with support from Algeria, Libya, and Cuba and began fighting Mauretania, which relinquished its territory in the Algiers Agreement of August 1979; but Morocco then annexed that territory. That year the Organization of African Unity (OAU) called for a cease-fire and a referendum in the Western Sahara, establishing a committee to work with the United Nations. When the OAU seated the SADR in 1985, Morocco resigned in protest. Libya supported Morocco, and in October 1985 SADR's foreign minister Hassan declared a unilateral cease-fire. On August 11, 1988 UN Secretary-General Pérez de Cuellar suggested a joint UN-OAU plan for a ceasefire and a referendum conducted by the UN; representatives of Morocco and POLISARIO agreed. Diplomatic relations improved, and by February 1989 the region founded the Arab Mahgreb Union, modeled after Europe's common market. However, talks made little progress, though King Hassan declared a universal truce when the Secretary-General visited in February 1990. The United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) was established on April 29, 1991, and a cease-fire went into effect on September 6. However, the referendum was delayed, and the MINURSO mandate had to be extended several times and is still in effect.
Chad and Libya submitted a border dispute to the International Court of Justice in September 1990, and in the spring of 1994 the United Nations Aouzou Strip Observer Group (UNASOG) monitored Libya's withdrawal.
Somalia became independent of Italy and Britain in 1960 but began fighting with Ethiopia and was taken over by the Soviet-trained army led by General Siad Barre in October 1969. Ethiopia's Emperor Haile Selassie was deposed in 1975, and the Soviet Union and Cuba provided military aid to the new government. In 1991 General Aidid toppled President Siad Barre. So much fighting occurred that in 1992 more than four million people were threatened by starvation, and about 300,000 died. In February UN Secretary-General Boutros-Ghali sponsored talks between General Aidid and his rival Ali Mahdi, and they agreed to a cease-fire on March 3. The United Nations Operation in Somalia (UNOSOM) was deployed to monitor the cease-fire in July. In December 1992 the UN Security Council authorized States to provide military forces to secure the delivery of humanitarian aid, and in 1993 the Council expanded the force, implementing UNOSOM II. On March 24, 1994 Ali Mahdi and General Aidid signed a declaration of national reconciliation, agreeing to a cease-fire and voluntary disarmament. Although some district and regional courts were established, after a while it was determined that the UN presence was no longer aiding national reconciliation. UNOSOM was completely withdrawn by March 2, 1995.
After two years of fighting over the border, mediation by Algeria and the Organization of African Unity (OAU) helped Ethiopia and Eritrea sign an agreement in June 2000 to cease hostilities. In July the UN Security Council set up the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) to be a liaison and to verify the ceasefire. In September the Council authorized deployment of military personnel to monitor the peace and the redeployment of troops and to assist in ensuring observance of security and a temporary security zone, and it is still in operation.
The United Nations Observer Mission Uganda-Rwanda (UNOMUR) began in August 1993, and this led two months later to the creation of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Rwanda (UNAMIR). After an airplane crash killed the presidents of Rwanda and Burundi on April 6, 1994, a civil war turned into mass murder as Hutus killed between 500,000 and one million Tutsis and "moderate" Hutus in one of the worst cases of genocide in history. Ten Belgian UN peacekeepers were killed trying to protect Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana. Amid the civil war Belgium decided to withdraw its battalion from UNAMIR. On April 30 the UN Security Council demanded that the interim government of Rwanda and the Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF) prevent attacks on civilians. On May 13 UN Secretary-General Boutros-Ghali suggested adding 5,500 troops to UNAMIR, and four days later the Security Council imposed an arms embargo on Rwanda, expanding UNAMIR's mandate. On July 14 the Security Council demanded an immediate cease-fire. After the RPF took Gisenyi on July 17, they declared a unilateral cease-fire the next day. On July 19 a broad-based government of national unity formed and began controlling all of Rwanda. UNAMIR helped refugees to return safely and ended its mission in March 1996.
A civil war began in Liberia in 1989 that led to the death
of more than 100,000 civilians, making 700,000 refugees. The Economic
Community of West African States (ECOWAS) created the ECOWAS Monitoring
Group (ECOMOG) in 1990 with 4,000 troops from Gambia, Ghana, Guinea,
Nigeria, and Sierra Leone. On November 19, 1992 the UN Security
Council imposed an arms embargo on deliveries to Liberia except
for those going to the peacekeeping forces of ECOWAS. The Cotonou
Peace Agreement was signed on July 25, 1993, and in September
the UN Security Council established the United Nations Observer
Mission in Liberia (UNOMIL) to cooperate with ECOWAS in implementing
the Cotonou agreement. UNOMIL helped ECOWAS and the OAU monitor
elections in Liberia and ended its mission in September 1997.
In the multi-party elections Charles Taylor was elected president
of Liberia, but several factions were not absorbed into the security
In May 2003 President Taylor agreed to a joint assessment mission by the United Nations, African Union, and ECOWAS. By then two rebel movements controlled nearly two-thirds of Liberia, and they decided the hostilities were not conducive to holding elections in October. A cease-fire agreement was signed on June 17, and in July ECOWAS leaders decided to send a vanguard force to facilitate Taylor's handing over of power, and the United States positioned a military force off the coast. On August first the UN Security Council authorized a multinational force in Liberia that began three days later with the ECOWAS Mission in Liberia (ECOMIL). The United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) was established by the Security Council in September 2003 to support the implementation of the ceasefire agreement and the peace process, and its mission continues.
After mutinies in the army of the Central African Republic, in January 1997 four African Presidents mediated a truce as parties signed the Bangui Agreements. An inter-African force (MISAB) was deployed to monitor implementation. The United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic (MINURCA) helped maintain security and monitor the disarmament, restructuring of the national police, and election plans, ending its mission in February 2000.
In May 1997 a military coup overthrew the democratically elected government in Sierra Leone; but the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and its peacekeeping force restored the elected government in March 1998. The United Nations Observer Mission in Sierra Leone (UNOMSIL) was established to monitor the military situation, disarmament, and demobilization. In October 1999 it was replaced as the UN Security Council established the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) to help implement the peace plan and assist the government with disarmament, demobilization, and law and order.
Also in 1999 six regional States and two Congolese rebel movements
signed a Ceasefire Agreement to stop hostilities between the belligerent
forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The United Nations
Organization Mission in Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC)
was established to be a liaison between the parties. In February
2000 MONUC began monitoring the implementation of the ceasefire
and prepared an action plan to implement the Agreement and verify
disengagement and the redeployment of the parties' forces. MONUC
is still in the Congo.
In May 2004 the United Nations Operation in Burundi (ONUB) was authorized to support the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement for Burundi that had been signed at Arusha on 28 August 2000. Parties in the Ivory Coast region signed a peace agreement in January 2003, and the UN Security Council set up the United Nations Mission in Côte d'Ivoire (MINUCI) in May 2003. This was replaced by the United Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI) in April 2004. The Government of Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in January 2005, and on March 24 the UN Security Council decided to establish the United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS) to support its implementation.
After four factions signed the Agreements on a Comprehensive Political Settlement of the Cambodia Conflict on October 23, 1991 in Paris, the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) helped to disarm and demobilize the armed forces, promote human rights, repatriate refugees, supervise elections, clear mines, and generally rehabilitate the country. Although the Party of Democratic Kampuchea (PDK) did not participate in the elections in late 1992 and early 1993, they were considered successful. After the new Constitution was adopted on September 21, 1993, UNTAC ended its mandate.
On August 2, 1990 the Iraqi army invaded Kuwait, and the same day the UN Security Council condemned it and demanded that Iraq withdraw unconditionally. After ten more similar resolutions that added naval and air embargos, the Security Council passed Resolution 678 on November 29, warning that if Iraq did not implement the resolutions by January 15, 1991, Member States would be authorized "to use all necessary means to uphold and implement" the resolutions and restore peace in the region.2 On January 16 a coalition of forces led by the United States launched air attacks on Iraq. Ground forces moved into southern Iraq and Kuwait on February 24 and soon captured Iraqi forces remaining there. The US decision to stop the ground war after one hundred hours allowed divisions of the Iraqi Republican Guard to escape to northern Iraq, where they later suppressed rebellions by the Shi'a and Kurdish majority, causing refugees to flee toward Turkey and Iran. On April 3 the Security Council passed Resolution 687 detailing the terms of the cease-fire that Iraq accepted three days later. The United Nations Iraq-Kuwait Observer Mission (UNIKOM) was established to deter boundary violations and for surveillance of the demilitarized zone. Resolution 687 also created the following:
The United Nations Special Commission to oversee
the destruction, removal or rendering harmless
of all Iraq's chemical and biological weapons
and related capabilities and facilities,
and its ballistic missiles with a range greater than 150 kilometers.
The Commission has also assisted
the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
in the destruction, removal, or rendering harmless
as appropriate of Iraq's nuclear capabilities.3
UNIKOM became operational as the last US Army unit left Iraq on May 7, 1991.
On December 16, 1990 Jean-Bertrand Aristide was elected president of Haiti with two-thirds of the vote. On September 30, 1991 he was forced into exile by a coup d'état led by Lt. General Raoul Cédras of the High Command of the Haitian Armed Forces (FADH). The UN General Assembly condemned this and the violation of human rights in Haiti in a resolution on October 11. Acting under Chapter VII of the UN Charter on June 16, 1993 the Security Council imposed an oil and arms embargo against Haiti. A month later a pact was signed in New York to guarantee a peaceful transition, and on August 25 the Haitian Parliament ratified Aristide's appointment of Robert Malval as designated prime minister. A month after that, the Security Council authorized the United Nations Mission in Haiti (UNMIH). Non-compliance by FADH resulted in Secretary-General Boutros-Ghali reimposing the sanctions in October.
On July 31, 1994 the UN Security Council authorized Member
States to form a multinational force to remove the military leadership
and restore Haiti's elected President. In a final diplomatic effort
former US President Jimmy Carter led a delegation that got the
Haitian military to cooperate with the military mission led by
the United States, and on September 19 the 28-nation multinational
force entered Haiti without opposition. Ten days later the UN
Security Council authorized the Secretary-General to send in the
UNMIH advance team. Lt. General Cédras resigned on October
10, and five days later President Aristide returned to Haiti.
UNMIH helped support professionalization of the national police
and ended its mission in June 1996. The UN Security Council established
the United Nations Support Mission in Haiti (UNSMIH) in June 1996
to help train police; after being extended, the mission was ended
in July 1997. For the next four months the United Nations Transition
Mission in Haiti (UNTMIH) bridged the gap until it was replaced
by the United Nations Civilian Police Mission in Haiti (MIPONUH),
which completed its mandate in March 2000.
On February 29, 2004 United States forces abducted and removed President Jean-Bertrand Aristide from Haiti. Believing that Aristide had resigned, a few hours later the UN Security Council authorized the Multinational Interim Force (MIF). The United States and France blocked the UN Security Council or the 15-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM) from investigating the abduction of Aristide which international law professor, Francis Boyle, called a violation of the United Nations Charter. The UN Security Council transferred authority from MIF to the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) on April 30, 2004 and in November renewed it for 2005.
After Abkhaz separatists began fighting the government of Georgia in 1992, the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) was established to verify a cease-fire in 1993. In May 1994 the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) deployed a peacekeeping force in Georgia, and an expanded UNOMIG still observes their operation.
The United Nations offered its good offices to help resolve a civil war in Tajikistan in 1992, and starting in December 1994 the United Nations Mission of Observers in Tajikistan (UNMOT) began monitoring a cease-fire and the deployed peacekeeping force of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). A peace agreement was signed in June 1997, and UNMOT helped implement it before pulling out in May 2000.
After turmoil in Yugoslavia in the 1980s popular referenda in Croatia and Slovenia led to their declaring independence in June 1991. That month Serbs living in Croatia began fighting with support from the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA), though in Slovenia the JNA withdrew after the European Community mediated an agreement. On September 25 the UN Security Council called upon all States to implement a complete embargo on all weapons to Yugoslavia and commended the efforts of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE). In February 1992 the UN Security Council established the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR). On May 22 the General Assembly admitted into the United Nations the Republic of Slovenia, the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the Republic of Croatia. On May 30 the Security Council invoked Chapter VII of the UN Charter to impose sanctions on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) in order to stimulate peaceful settlement of conflicts.
In 1993 US Secretary of State Cyrus Vance and European Community mediator Lord Owen proposed a peace plan through the International Conference on the Former Yugoslavia (ICFY), and in 1994 Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina formed the Bosniac-Croat Federation as territory was divided between these groups and the Bosnian Serbs. The United Nations Confidence Restoration Operation in Croatia (UNCRO) helped implement a ceasefire and demilitarization in the Prevlaka peninsula. Croatia used force to reintegrate Western Slavonia and Krajina from May to August 1995 as the UN withdrew from those areas. On October 5, 1995 the United States secured a cease-fire of the fighting that was raging in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and on November 22 the UN Security Council suspended the sanctions against Yugoslavia. UNCRO ended its mission in January 1996. That month the United Nations Transitional Administration for Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium (UNTAES) oversaw the Basic Agreement of November 1995 that provided for the peaceful integration of Croatia, supervising demilitarization, voluntary return of refugees, and the April 1997 elections.
The United Nations Preventive Deployment Force (UNPREDEP) replaced UNPROFOR in March 1995 in Macedonia and monitored the borders between Yugoslavia and Albania until February 1999. As the international force (IFOR) led by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was deployed, the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH) helped implement the General Framework Agreement by coordinating humanitarian relief, demining, human rights, elections, and rehabilitation of infrastructure. UNMIBH's Police Task Force continues to monitor law enforcement. In January 1996 the United Nations Mission of Observers in Prevlaka (UNMOP) took over from UNCRO the monitoring of the demilitarization of the Prevlaka peninsula in southern Croatia on the border of Yugoslavia.
After the United States and NATO took it upon themselves to
bomb Yugoslavia in the spring of 1999 for its oppression of Kosovo,
in June the UN Security Council authorized NATO to lead a security
presence (KFOR) to demilitarize Kosovo and maintain law and order.
The United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK)
was established to operate as peacekeepers and to exercise administrative
and executive authority, administering justice, rehabilitating
the territory and preparing Kosovo for elections as an autonomous
province within the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
In August 1999 the United Nations conducted a poll in which East Timorese chose to separate from Indonesia; but anti-independence forces reacted with a campaign of terror. The UN Security Council authorized an international force (INTERFET) to restore order and in October established the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) to help the East Timorese to become independent, administer the Territory, organize elections and assure the rule of law and human rights. On May 20, 2002 East Timor became an independent nation with the name Timor-Leste, and UNTAET was replaced by the United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET) to provide assistance to the newly elected Timor-Leste government for three years.
The United Nations has difficulty keeping states in line against their will, but the veto has at least kept the superpowers talking together in the Security Council, even though they were not always able to agree. The General Assembly became a great public forum for the debate of international issues, and the developments of the economic and social functions made progress in dealing with many of the root causes of war. In 1992 the new Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali wrote Agenda for Peace and suggested that the United Nations become more active in peacekeeping, peacemaking, and what he called "peacebuilding." With the Cold War over, this has meant the use of many more military forces, especially by the United States. In 1992 there were about 12,000 military and police personnel functioning as UN peacekeepers, but by the end of 1994 the number had increased to nearly 80,000, not counting the 10,000 US troops in Haiti. In 2004 United Nations peace operations rotated 120,000 military and civilian police personnel. In 2005 United Nations peacekeeping was spending an annual budget of five billion dollars for operations with about 67,000 military personnel and civilian police. The United Nations is far from perfect and complete as a world organization, but it has enabled humanity to take many important steps on the path of social evolution.
1. Security Council Res. 131, 22 November, 1967 in View
from the UN: The Memoirs of U Thant, p. 492.
2. Quoted in The Evolution of UN Peacekeeping ed. William J. Durch, p. 259.
3. The Blue Helmets: A Review of United Nations Peacekeeping, Third edition, p. 682-683.
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