This book is a collection of articles by scholar-activists dedicated to making the slogan “Never Again” become a reality rather than just an empty expression of hope. It is about a proposal for a UN Emergency Peace Service (UNEPS), a small specially trained standing international force of 12,000 to 15,000 individually recruited persons that could be quickly deployed in crisis situations to stop genocides and crimes against humanity. It also sets out a strategy for civil society organizations and supportive individuals to work together to make UNEPS a reality, just as they did with the International Criminal Court.
The Preface by long-time U.N. civil servant Sir Brian Urquhart, citing specific examples, lays out the arguments about why such a force is now desperately needed. The situations calling for UN intervention have become much more complex, often involving maintaining public order and aiding victims of violence. They may require a quicker response than existing procedures permit, rapidity which is necessary not only to save lives but also to keep the crisis from getting completely out of hand.
Urquhart also addresses the objections which can be raised against such a force. The first is the expense of maintaining such a force; but, he notes, the money saved would greatly exceed the cost. The second is the claim that the present system of organizing peacekeeping forces from willing nations is adequate, but the record shows that it just isn’t. The third objection is that such a standing UN force would erode national sovereignty, but the human disasters now occurring are much more real and important than any threat to national sovereignty.
The “Introduction” by David Krieger, Saul Mendlovitz, and William Pace cites recent studies and special panels which agree that there is a real need for such a standing peace service, enough to make it clear that the need now is for some action. They discuss the historical development of efforts to deal with genocide & war crimes from the post-World War II Nuremberg Trials and the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide to the UN’s ad hoc tribunals for crimes in the former Yugoslavia & Rwanda in the mid-1990s to creation of the International Criminal Court in 2002 to the current acceptance of the concept of “responsible sovereignty.”
A transnational coalition of civil society organizations to promote the establishment of UNEPS has now been spurred into action by “the dismal failure of the international community to prevent the slaughter of innocent civilians in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, East Timor, Liberia, Somalia, Darfur, and elsewhere.” This coalition “believes that the inability and unwllingness to deal with genocide and crimes against humanity arises, at least in important part, from the absence of an appropriate body with authorization to enforce these laws.” A few efforts have been made to correct this inadequacy, but they have not solved the problem. An alternative way is needed which will overcome the “body-bag backlash” concern which keeps richer countries from participating in peacekeeping missions as well as the concerns of the Global South that interventions will be conducted in their countries without their input.
The transnational “Working Group for UNEPS” formed in 2002 is now composed of many groups and individuals, but three organizations have been particularly supportive. They are Global Action to Prevent War, the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, and the World Federalist Movement. These three organizations, which supported the publication of this book, also serve as co-secretariats for the UNEPS project and campaign.
Political Science Professor Robert C. Johansen of the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame edited the book and authored much of it. The first chapter is his Executive Summary, which explains that UNEPS “would be designed to complement–not replace–other essential national, regional, and UN efforts.” It “could provide immediate, full protection in some crises and serve as an advance group that would prepare the way for subsequent additional help, if needed, in larger conflicts.”
The second chapter, based on an early draft about the UNEPS concept by H. Peter Languille, is the agreed-upon statement of the rationale for UNEPS which grew out of the 2003 UNEPS Symposium in Santa Barbara, California. The case for UNEPS (with a few modifications noted in the third chapter) includes l. The Need, 2. The Proposal (with its unique nature–permanent, quick response, individually recruited, carefully selected and expertly trained, coherently organized under UN command and dedicated to the mission, and an integrated force with all components necessary for diverse peace and enforcement operations), 3.The Decision to Deploy, 4.The Costs, 5.The Benefits, and 6.The Call to Action (“responsibility for breathing life into UNEPS now lies with members of civil society, in cooperation with the UN, regional organizations, and governments wherever possible”).
The third chapter is the report for the second workshop on UNEPS held in Cuenca, Spain in February 2005. It amplifies the case and discusses some particular questions: 1.Is the proposal for UNEPS politically feasible? 2. How can UNEPS help fulfill the Responsibility to Protect? 3. Can UNEPS succeed without the consent of the state where it is deployed? 4. Who should authorize deployment? 5. Is UNEPS needed in addition to other rapid-reaction initiatives? 6. How can UNEPS ensure respect for women’s human rights? 7. Under what conditions could UNEPS be called on to assist with natural disasters and environmental accidents? Some other hard questions are also discussed in this chapter.
The fourth chapter or “Afterward” consists of comments about the Cuenca report made by Lt. General Satish Nambiar of the Indian Armed Forces and First Force Commander and Head of Mission of the UN Forces in the former Yugoslavia in 1992-1993. The fifth chapter is a discussion of issues being raised by various constituencies by Hussein Solomon, Director of the Center for International Political Studies at the University of Pretoria, South Africa; Alcides Costa Vaz, Director of the Institute of International Relations at the University of Brasilia, Brazil; and Lois Barber, Executive Director of EarthAction.
This book is the indispensable source of information about the UNEPS proposal, the arguments for it, and the strategy for working to make it a reality. At the same time it perceptively discusses the potential problems this proposal confronts.