Fog of Peace

The Fog of Peace: A Memoir of International Peacekeeping in the 21st Century

 

by Jean-Marie Guehenno[1]

 

Reviewed by James V. Arbuckle, for Peacehawks

 

Introduction

 

Jean-Marie Guehenno was appointed United Nations Under-Secretary General for Peacekeeping Operations (USG PKO) in 2000, and held that position until 2008.  A “scholar-diplomat”, as one blurbist has characterized him, he was until  his appointment without direct experience of the United Nations.

 

The Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) was created in 1992 from the Department of Special Political Affairs, which had been responsible for PKOs since their inception in 1948.  The then USG for that Department, Marrack Goulding, assumed the leadership of the new DPKO until he was succeeded by Kofi Annan in 1993. Annan was replaced by Bernard Miyet of France in 1997 when Annan  became Secretary-General[2].  Since then all DPKO USGs have been French, and on 1 April  of this year Jean-Pierre Lacroix will replace Herve Ladsus.

 

The book is engagingly written, and conveys well the feel of the immediacy of high diplomacy, but careful readers may find some things missing.

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UN Charter
Aside

The Charter of the United Nations: A Primer

 

Introduction

In the course of a 37-year military career, which included UN peacekeeping missions in Cyprus, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia and Croatia, I never once read or even saw a copy of the Charter of the United Nations. I don’t know of any other officers who did, nor did I ever even hear it discussed. And, and so far as understanding our employment and our missions, that was pretty much it for my generation of officers. And still it seems today that much current debate, even at very high levels, is little better informed and no less careless of details than were my generation.

This is just not good enough. Ill informed debate is not useful discussion, and we have learned the hard way that unrealistic expectations produce ill judgement, which can and often does lead to self-fulfilling prophecies of failure.

To the extent that the United Nations is the pre-eminent system and authority for, inter-alia, the maintenance of international peace and security, and to the extent that we really do care about these issues, we need to know the Organization better, and there is no better way to know this Organization than through familiarity with its mighty Charter. (As you can see from the illustration above, I have since put a lot of miles on my copy of the Charter, even, as you can also see, while I was in fact working Chapter VIII.)

The Charter of the UN is a remarkable document. Drafted in 1945, and entering into force just six months after the drafting, it has been amended on only four occasions, the last over 40 years ago.

We will in this article describe and explore the following Chapters of the Charter of the United Nations:

Chapter I: Purposes and Principles
Chapter III:  Organs
Chapter IV: The General  Assembly
Chapter V: The Security Council
Chapter VI: Pacific Settlement of Disputes
Chapter VII: Action with Respect to Threats to the Peace, Breaches of the Peace, and Acts of Aggression
Chapter VIII: Regional Arrangements

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book3
Aside

UNO: WHAT TRIBE IS THAT?

Panel 2 of a triptych: A book review for Peacehawks of Hammarskjoeld: a Life, by Roger Lipsey, The University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, 2013. 738 pp; illus, footnotes, indexed, bibliography.

by Jamie Arbuckle

Introduction

There have of course been several books about Dag Hammarskjoeld, the second Secretary-General of the United Nations. The most authoritative was Sir Brian Urquhart’s Hammarskjoeld[1] first published in 1972; Urquhart combined immediacy – he was there – with scholarship. More recently (2011), there has been the extremely useful and readable work by Manuel Froehlich. [2]

Do we need another biography of Dag Hammarskjoeld? As we wrote in the first panel of this triptych[3], we believe that there are some stories that are so important to us that they need to be retold afresh in each generation, and there is no redundancy in the retelling. Each generation needs to hear, in its own voice and in its own time, the vital stories of the times. The past is not necessarily fate, but it is often prologue. And living in history is like map reading: if you know where you were and how you have gone, you should know where you are, and you can have a good idea where you are going. Updating the map from time to time can never be of no use.

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PEACEKEEPING IN OUR TIME: PAST THE AGE OF CONSENT?

By Jamie Arbuckle, for Peacehawks

Introduction

Have you heard the one about how many Peacekeepers it takes to change a light bulb?

Actually, any number will do – but the light bulb has to want to change.

To know where we are going, we need to know where we are, and to know that, we usually need to know where we have been.  To look ahead, then, we often need to look back.

One of the most critical factors in modern peace operations has, since the creation of the United Nations, been the issue of consent to and the continuing support for an operation.  The  UN is hard-wired for consensual operations; it’s in the DNA, in the Charter:

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