Book reviews - United Nations.
       

Evaluating Peace Operations
(Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2010, 238 pp)

How effective are peacekeeping operations in preventing and stopping violence? Are there alternatives to the ways that U.N. and regional organizations currently carry out peacekeeping operations? How effective are peacekeeping operations in addressing the root causes of the conflict? How does one measure the effectiveness of peacekeeping operations? These are some of the questions which Diehl and Druckman address in this useful study with an emphasis on the methodology of evaluating peacekeeping operations.

There have been recent news stories of the U.N. peace operations in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo. "Failure" is a often used word to describe the operation. News stories often highlight the systematic rape of women in the area and the inability or unwillingness of U.N. troops to stop the rapes which have become a standard practice in the area both on the part of the members of the armed insurgencies as well as by members of the regular Congolese Army. There are also other examples where "failure" is the key word in popular evaluations. As the authors point out, "In the eyes of many, the lasting image from the peacekeeping efforts in Somalia is the body of a US soldier being dragged through the streets of Mogadishu. Almost two decades after peace operations were first deployed there, Somalia is still a failed state, lacking a central government that controls all of Somali territory. From this perspective, the two U.N. operations there, as well as the US mission, were miserable failures. At the same time, peacekeepers provided food and medical care to hundreds of thousands of internally displaced Somalis and no doubt saved countless lives. From that vantage point, the peace operations were successful. What explains the great divergence in assessment? Clearly, much depends on the standards used to evaluate peace missions, as well as the evidence used to make judgements according to those standards."

Diehl and Druckman set out a complete, if rather complicated, framework for evaluation taking into consideration policy decisions as to goals and means. Their framework concerns objectives, measures of progress, benefits, limitations and key questions which must be asked at every stage - prior to deployment, during and in the postconflict peacebuilding process.

Their framework is more complete than the usual U.N. "lessons-learned" post mortem evaluations. Nor does it have the personal story aspect of Andrew Thomson, Kenneth Cain and Heidi Postlewait's Emergency Sex and Other Desperate Measures (Miramax, 2004). A question arises concerning the Diehl-Druckman framework: is this more than an academic exercise for a rational world or will it help in the messy, ad hoc emergency-response world in which the U.N. has to work? The first reality is that there are no permanent U.N.-trained and motivated troops. There are only national units loaned by some national governments but paid for by all the U.N. member states. Each government trains its army in its own spirit and values, through there is still an original English ethos as many U.N. troops come from India-Pakistan-Bangladesh-Nepal and Nigeria.

There have been suggestions, some even before the creation of U.N. peacekeeping efforts, that there should be a permanent U.N. force, trained to common standards, and on call for prompt action. As experience has shown that soldiers are not able to carry out fully all the tasks that need to be met, the proposals now often speak of a "U.N. Emergency Peace Service" that would include police, relief workers and judiciary to recreate a court system. Former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan who had also been in charge of the Secretariat section overseeing peacekeeping has compared the job of building support and raising funds for each new U.N. peacekeeping mission to that of a volunteer fire chief who is forced to raise funds, find volunteers and secure a fire truck for each new fire.

Moreover, the current U.N. peacekeeping troops are not trained for loyalty to the U.N. and its values. While many U.N. troop members have served bravely, there are also those who in a difficult situation avoid getting shot at. Issues of moral, loyalty, responsibility to follow soldiers and responsibility to civilians have always been considerations in the training of national troops. Most of these issues are passed over with generalities in the U.N. system.

Diehl and Druckman highlight the context in which peacekeepers must operate. One of their most important chapters is "Context Matters" where they set out categories to study the dimensions of the conflict environment. They mention but do not develop the idea of unarmed civilian peacekeeping. Basically, if U.N. troops are not going to shoot except in cases of direct attacks on them, are soldiers what are really needed? Could we not have non-violent peace brigades? The authors provide a useful bibliography of works on peacekeeping operations. Their study is a real contribution to an important on-going issue.

Rene Wadlow