Effectiveness of Blue-helmet operations in peacekeeping

Are peacekeepers (blue helmet) effective to bring peace?


The activities of peacekeeping have existed since antiquity. Thus, peacekeeping has its roots in the management of conflict of the great powers (James, pp. 4). As such, there are continuity ties as well as parallelism in the activities of peacekeeping that happened in the past and currently. Hence, Bellamy and Paul Williams are of the opinion that the idea for the great powers to be mandated with the responsibility for ensuring the maintenance of peace is an old phenomenon (61). For example, in the ancient Roman Empire, there was the enforcement of the law that ensured it took care of the political boundaries. Currently, the states that are powerful have justified their interventions into the affairs of other countries to protect the peace on a global scale. This has been for the greater good, however, most times, it has been to protect their self-interest. The nations that have been for the greater good include the British, in their stand for the abolishment of the slave trade that ruled the global world (Bellamy and Paul Williams, pp. 61). Therefore, the paper attempts to explore whether the activities of the peacekeepers (blue helmet) are effective in bringing peace. It aims to offer a brief history of the onset of the activities of peacekeeping. It further endeavors to shed light on the ways in which the peacekeeping activities have been effective by the use of examples.


Peace as a collective responsibility

The nineteenth century saw the uprising of the collective action by the international organization to pursue both security as well as peace. The cooperation that was brought about by the development of the European nations featured as the initial steps towards the maintenance of peace in the world. However, it is important to note that the initial attempts by the great powers of the European were as a result of selfish reasons. Hence, these efforts resulted in failure. In light of this fact, it led to the great strides towards the institutionalizing of the international cooperation in the onset of the twentieth century. For instance, it resulted in the League of Nations as well as the UN (Beardsley and Skrede, pp. 77).

Collective Actions

The collective actions comprise of the missions to the state of China as well as Crete. It was after the signing of the Berlin treaty. The missions were for the maintenance of a status quo or in other words protecting the great powers interests. The importance of the state of Crete to the European great powers was of great interest to them. For instance, there was the looming of a general war in 1896 (Bellamy and Paul Williams, pp. 62). It was brought about by the ethnic clash that occurred in the state of Crete. Greece was attempting to protect itself against the invasion of the Ottoman. Consequently, Italy, France, Russia, Britain, Germany and Austria-Hungary responded to the threat. They began by blocking the invasion of the island to safeguard the entry of the Ottoman. Afterward, there was the deployment of the multinational force that was strong that numbered 20,000 to maintain the peace (Bellamy and Paul Williams, pp. 62).

There was also the initiation of the Cretan police reform, judiciary as well as the civil administration. As a result, two years later, there was the imposition of a status of uniqueness and importance of the Crete state. It included the provision of the autonomy for the island as well as the creation of the ruling elite of the Greek that was imposed on the Ottoman suzerains. Another example of a collective action was the response of the international community on the rebellion that occurred at the onset of 1900 referred to as the rebellion of the Boxer (James, pp. 7). Although it was instigated by the ambitions of colonialism, it is warranted as a precursor of the enforcement of the collective action. The Boxers represented a society that was loosely organized comprising of the peasants of the Chinese community that protested against the biasedness of the Chinese court that was influenced by the great powers of the foreigners.

The influence of the great powers has significantly increased since the rise of the war referred to as opium that occurred from 1839 to 1842 (Bellamy and Paul Williams, pp. 62). During this period, the Britain had attempted to employ the supremacy of their navy to force themselves into the market of the Chinese. They wanted to have the right to transact their opium business, and at the same time, expose the Chinese market to exploitation by the foreign nations. Therefore, the culmination of the humiliation experienced from the Manchu elite that were ruling, coupled with the increase in taxes, issues with the land rights, poor administration as well as various natural disasters that were major triggered the social unrest that resulted in a revolt referred to as the Great Taiping in the year 1850 to 1854 (Bellamy and Paul Williams, pp. 63). In comparison to the First World War, the rebellion claimed more lives. However, the powers of the European aided its eradication. As a result, there was the extension of the influence to the state of China.

The need for an international organization

The 1900 saw a period of fifty-five days that was as a result of the besieging of the diplomatic legations by the Boxers in the city of Beijing (Bellamy and Paul Williams, pp. 63). The major powers responded by authorizing actions that were joint to relieve themselves of their diplomatic missions. The naval squadrons, of the western took positions in Taku, under the Seymour of the British admiral’s command. The reinforcements of the Russians, as well as the Germans, moved towards the capital. August 14 saw the lifting of the siege as a result of the defeat of the Chinese armies (Bellamy and Paul Williams, pp. 63). Therefore, the operation showed the willingness of the various states in defending the interests of the common. The placement of the national contingents under the commander from Germany, that was not foreseen, further, demonstrated the willingness of the coordination of the nations. In addition, there was the continuity of the development of the international organization. The year 1899 through to 1907 saw the agreement by the representatives of the states globally to limit the war recourses as well as the means that were accepted during a war (Bellamy and Paul Williams, pp. 63). It included the ban on the employment of gasses that were poisonous. However, the Hague’s conference failed with their intention to eradicating war.

It failed since it was dependent on the great powers willingness to the implementation of the Hague agreement. The willingness was usually eroded due to the rivalry that existed in the onset of the twentieth century. In 1919, there was the resurgence of the Nations League that came as a result of the increased pressure on the states of European to managing the affairs of the international community (Bellamy and Paul Williams, pp. 64). The membership of the league extended beyond the great powers of the European states. It represented an attempt that was more ambitious in the management of the international society than the Europe Concert (James, pp. 7).

Effectiveness of Blue-helmet operations in peacekeeping

The UN was formed as a result of the failure of the Nation’s league by the allies of the western nations in the course of the Second World War. It was as a result of the mass loss of the lives as well as the devastation caused on the physical body by the tenacious war. Besides, it was coupled with the atomic bomb invasion that convinced the leaders of the international community that there was the necessity of an international organization. Hence, for the effectiveness of the organization to be high, it needed to integrate the capacity that lacked in the League of Nations (Bellamy and Paul Williams, pp. 70).

Effectiveness during missions

During the cold war, in 1950, according to the intervention that was led by the US in Korea showed that the UN was fortified in dealing with the collective security (Bellamy and Paul Williams, pp. 71). The circumstances upon which the authorization of the intervention occurred without the inclusion of the Soviet Union in the matters pertaining to security, illustrated its prowess (Durch, pp. 1). Thus, the Korean War provided the best platform for the UN to pursue a collective role in security that was major. In addition, the concept development of the preventive diplomacy in the UN offered the organization with the role that was collective in the security, which was at the center of its operations in peacekeeping. Besides, UNEF I that formed the onset of the missions of peacekeeping of the organization illustrated the principles that the organization stood for such as impartiality, limited usage of force as well as consent. It was demonstrated in the Sinai deployment to assist in defusing the crisis that occurred in Suez in 1956 (Durch, pp. 7). Notably, it was perceived that the decreased force usage was due to their nature of the response to the events that were extraordinary that were facing the Suez.

Nevertheless, the UN had undertaken activities of peacekeeping earlier in the Middle East, the subcontinent of the Indian as well as the Balkans (Wills, pp. 47). There are accounts of other operations that the organization undertook before the lapse of the Cold War. In addition, it undertook its peacekeeping activities to the Congo, Korea as well as the New Guinea that was under the Dutch (Karlsrud, pp. 44). Importantly, the operation of the organization in Congo was more complex, with its operation being multifaceted as well as costly. During the climax of the violence, there were troops approximately twenty thousand. These were to offer assistance to the civilian component as their role was interwoven (Thakur, pp. 42). Thus, the responsibility of the ONUC was for the maintenance of order as well as law during the period of decolonization in Congo after the rule of the Belgian (Bellamy and Paul Williams, pp. 73).

The shift in the security situation forced the organization to also change from preventive diplomacy to the enforcement of peace in order to safeguard the territorial integrity of the Congo (Karlsrud, pp. 48). As a result, the effect of ONUC to the peacekeeping of the UN was profound (Bellamy and Paul Williams, pp. 73). Furthermore, the Soviet Union, as well as France, complained that the mandate of the organization in the state of the Congo had been exceeded, and as such, there was a little control that the organization had to the direction of their mission. Consequently, there was the complaint of the costs that were spiraling and as such, refusal in the payment of dues (James, pp. 6). In light of this regard, there was an immediate crisis in the funding of the operations of the UN pertaining to peacekeeping. It is a crisis that the UN has never been able to overcome. The insistence of the French, as well as the Soviet Union, led to several reforms in the management and the constitution of the operations of peacekeeping by the UN.

It is important to note that the reforms in the management led to the mandating of the operations to take a period of six months at any given time. As such, it offered the council of the security the responsibility of monitoring the operations of the individual organizations constantly. It also offered the members that were permanent the right to authorize the operations continuation. The crisis that occurred in the UN’s finances led to the scrapping of the expenses related to peacekeeping activities from the budget that was general. Therefore, it resulted in the development of a budget that was separate in the activities of peacekeeping (Paris, pp. 13).

Afterward, the UN undertook other missions that were large. For instance, in Cyprus, the UNFICYP as well as the UNEF II (Paris, pp. 14). Importantly, there was the strengthening of the secretary general’s office under the leadership of Waldeim and Thant. However, in 1970, the cold war that worsened had implications on the council of the security (Wallensteen and Johansson, pp. 28). It led to a retreat of the activities of peacekeeping, hence, resulted in one mission between the onset of 70 and the late 80s (Bellamy and Paul Williams, pp. 73). The mission was in Lebanon by the UNIFIL.


The background information concerning the onset of the activities of peacekeeping is vital in the comprehension of the enforcement of peace as a collective responsibility of the global state. The international cooperation is mandatory for the maintenance of peace in the nations under crisis. Thus, the importance of the international organizations cannot be downplayed since the various nations play a key role in the world (Terrie, pp. 21). Hence, there is the need for constant monitoring of the activities that occur within the nations to safeguard the prevalence of peace. The activities of peacekeeping cannot be left to one state, but, it is a collective responsibility that ensures that peacekeeping is at the center of every state. Importantly, the effectiveness of the international organization is dependent on its management as well as its constitution. Thus, it is vital for periodic reviews of the policies pertaining peacekeeping by the international organization to ensure that they are capable of dealing with the arising issues regarding peace. However, it is paramount for the various nations to offer their support to the international organization and not hold ransom its activities based on a change in its structure. In as much as the reforms are vital, the focus should not be lost on the importance of the international organization to the maintenance of peace for the greater good.


Works Cited

Beardsley, Kyle and Kristian Skrede. “Peacekeeping as Conflict Containment.” International Studies Review (2015): 67-89. DOI: 10.1111/misr.12205.

Bellamy, Alex and Stuart Griffin, Paul Williams. Understanding Peacekeeping. Cambridge: Polity press, 2004. Book.

Durch, William. The Evolution of UN Peacekeeping. New York: St. Martins Press, 1993.

James, Alan. Peacekeeping in International Politics. London: Macmillan Academic And Professional Ltd, 1990.

Karlsrud, John. “The UN at war: examining the consequences of peace-enforcement mandates for the UN peacekeeping operations in the CAR, the DRC and Mali.” Third World Quarterly (2015): 40-54. DOI: 10.1080/01436597.2015.976016.

Paris, Roland. At War’s End. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

Terrie, Jim. “The use of force in UN peacekeeping.” African Security Review (2010): 21-32.

Thakur, Ramesh. “The Responsibility to Protect at 15.” International Affairs (2016): 415-434.

Wallensteen, Peter and Patrik Johansson. Security Council Decisions in Pespective. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003.

Wills, Siobhan. Protecting Civilians. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.


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