The United Nations was created after World War II to prevent similar conflicts in the future. However, they have no mandate to enter into conflicts.
This is what journalist, author and Security Council expert Tove Gravdal tells Netavisen.
– The United Nations cannot intervene and resolve the conflict. The most powerful weapon that the UN Security Council has is to adopt a resolution that could ultimately lead to the imposition of sanctions if the parties concerned do not act in accordance with this resolution. He says this is a long way from what the UN can do now.
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In the Security Council, the highest body of the United Nations, China, the United States, France, Great Britain and Russia have veto power. Political tension between East and West may be the reason why countries are unable to agree on anything major.
– The ten elected member states are working on drafting a new text and trying to consolidate veto powers into a resolution around which they can rally. The United States vetoed a resolution calling for a humanitarian truce on October 18. Since then, the Americans have changed their view somewhat, and Blinken called for such breaks when he recently visited the Middle East. Perhaps the United States could expand on this point, she says, adding:
Russia abstained from voting on the humanitarian truce resolution, but now it is going further and wants a ceasefire. So it will likely be difficult to convince Russia and the United States to agree on a joint text. For Russia, it is very convenient to have a conflict in the Middle East to take the focus away from Ukraine.
The great powers also carried out military operations without UN authorization. For example, when NATO bombed Serb forces in Kosovo in 1999. NATO justified the operation by saying it stopped an ongoing genocide, but Russia later used it as evidence that the West was not adhering to Security Council resolutions either.
– It is interesting that the wars in Ukraine and the Middle East create such great tensions and paralyze the work of the Council. But it’s not quite a crisis. Surprisingly, in fact, the Council still unanimously adopted a number of resolutions, for example, authorizing an important UN operation monitoring the peace agreement in Colombia as of 2016. So, it’s not quite as bleak as it seems, says Gravdal.
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United Nations experts warned of genocide in Gaza, while activists and heads of Arab states described the Israeli military operation in Gaza as genocide. Gravdal still doesn’t think peacekeepers will be relevant.
– It is absolutely unrealistic that we can create a new peacekeeping force there. She says the United Nations already has a fairly strong presence in the Middle East.
– Too bad
Stian Keksrud, an associate professor at the Norwegian Armed Forces College, has studied UN peacekeeping forces for a number of years. He says that peacekeeping forces have improved greatly since the end of the 1990s until today. According to him, many UN peace operations have been very successful, but there are still fewer and fewer of them.
– It’s a bit unfortunate that you have an international conflict management tool that you now put in the drawer. This is not good for the future, as what remains after that, except deterrence and confrontation, says Kiksrud.
At the same time, it is absolutely clear that sending a peacekeeping force to the Middle East cannot be done in light of the political situation we are living in now.
The first reason is that the Security Council is a political organization. The Council is supposed to ensure international peace and security, but five of the 15 member states have veto power. A lot is about how the world is interconnected and what alliances there are. He says any attempts to intervene now will be rejected.
– It’s hard to imagine
In order for peacekeeping forces to be deployed, there must be consent from the parties to the conflict. In the same way that states can expel peacekeepers if consent is lapsed. This is what is happening in Mali, where UN peacekeepers will soon withdraw.
– In Mali, opportunities are opening up for private military companies like Wagner, so one wonders if this is a good idea, but if Mali does not want a peace process, there will be no process, says Keksrud.
– Do you see that the use of peacekeeping forces is increasing again?
– Today it is difficult to imagine. These discussions are still ongoing, and the peacekeeping market no less, but what stands out now is that the key political climate is very tense, and agreeing on things is becoming more difficult.
However, he is clear that the UN plays a very important role.
The United Nations is many things and an important player when it comes to diplomatic talks that you rarely hear about. If one imagines a ceasefire process in Gaza or Ukraine, it is possible that the talks will take place in the back rooms of the UN delegations in New York. There is good enough reason to believe that the United Nations is not a dead organization.
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