The conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza, not to mention the war in Syria, have presented diplomats with emotional testimonies of civilian suffering, even alleged crimes against humanity. Yet the 15-member Council has been unable to end these conflicts. The problem is not that the major world powers don’t care. It is that they care too much.
In the aftermath of the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crash over eastern Ukraine, few people have been able to take charge of what has been, by all accounts, a chaotic and tragic scene. But one group, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), has been able to send international observers to the site of the disaster.
Russia seemed ready to mount a full-scale incursion into eastern Ukraine as early as April, it avoided such an open challenge to the West. The U.S. and Europe reciprocated by limiting sanctions against Moscow in the second quarter of this year. But these signs of restraint have given way to chaos.
The UN is currently in poor health but the severity of its condition is not yet clear, Richard Gowan argues in this paper commissioned by the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue for the 2014 Oslo Forum for senior mediators. Gowan assesses the impact of events in South Sudan, Syria and Ukraine for the UN, and warns that the organization's operational and political credibility is weakening.
Is Ukraine a promising model for the management of future international crises? At first glance, it looks like nothing of the sort. Kiev is in the middle of a bloody military campaign to regain control of towns and cities in the east of the country from pro-Russian rebels. More and more civilians have been caught in the crossfire.
In Still Ours to Lead: America, Rising Powers, and the Tension Between Rivalry and Restraint, Brookings Senior Fellow and my CIC colleague Bruce Jones sets out a compelling analysis of the present global power structure.
In this Lowy Institute Analysis, Richard Gowan reviews Australia’s time as a non-permanent member of the Security Council. Gowan argues that while it has not changed the world, Australia has acquitted itself well, bringing extra rigour and professionalism to the Council’s debates. It has carved out a niche on the issue of humanitarian access in the Syrian conflict, and solidified its reputation as a good international citizen and a serious country.
Eighteen months into their two-year term on the Security Council, Australia’s diplomats at the UN have become masters of crisis management. For more than a year they have played a major role in talks on humanitarian aid to Syria, forging a fragile consensus with Russia and China on the need to assist the suffering.
Over the past six months, United Nations peacekeeping has come closer to catastrophe than at any time since the Rwandan genocide and Srebrenica massacre. The UN mission in South Sudan was caught off-guard when the country imploded last December. The crisis has claimed at least 10,000 lives. More then a million civilians have fled their homes, with 80,000 sheltering in UN compounds
In the last decade, there have been two trends in mission mandates. The first and most obvious is the United Nations Security Council authorization of peacekeeping missions with significant military components and complex, multidimensional mandates. Yet, due to global strains on personnel, equipment, financial resources, and to competing international priorities, these missions – typically in the most challenging environments – have suffered from under-deployment and insufficient political attention.
United Nations (UN) peace operations face an extended and dangerous period of strategic uncertainty. Since the end of the Cold War, global peacekeeping has undergone cycles of expansion and contraction. After a round of boom and bust in the 1990s, UN operations expanded through the last decade, as did those of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the African Union (AU), the European Union (EU) and other organizations. But a series of set-backs have coincided with military overstretch and the financial crisis, raising the risk that UN peacekeeping may contract once more.