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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 June, 2004, 17:00 GMT 18:00 UK
Is the UN best equipped to bring peace?
UN peacekeepers in Bukavu in eastern DR Congo
Anti-UN protests swept DR Congo after dissident soldiers took Bukavu
Continuing tension and conflict in several parts of Africa has put the UN's peacekeeping role under the spotlight.

The UN force in Democratic Republic of Congo, Monuc, is facing fierce criticism for not doing enough to prevent Bukavu falling to rebels last week.

While within Ivory Coast's shaky peace process, the UN is grappling with a disarmament programme.

The UN has more than 30,000 peacekeepers deployed in Africa, but now United States officials are proposing to train and equip a new African peace force of more than 50,000.

What do you think the UN's role should be in keeping and ensuring lasting peace in places like DR Congo and Ivory Coast? Is it able to react fast enough to new crises? Should it be the business of the UN to maintain peace in Africa? Or should Africa police peace herself with funding from the US?


A selection of your views are posted below and will be broadcast on BBC Focus on Africa at 17.00 GMT on Saturday 12 June 2004.

The people of Africa are very capable and it would be much better if the UN would be thrown out. The African nations are able to resolve their problems and even if it takes that they need to break up into smaller countries to minimize some tribal tensions. Africa can govern itself but it appears as if the West has to always interfere because they do not want African people to make their own decisions. African people need to stand together, no matter what colour of skin and we can solve our problems but we need to get rid of any power with colonialist tendencies East or West.
Eleanor, UK

The approach to such a question must be based on principle. If one trully believes in democracy, then the best way to ensure peace in the world is a democratic world body whose resolutions are binding on all humanity. There is NO WAY around such a solution. All the US troops can come to Africa and they will NEVER establish a lasting peace. Remove the veto and the existence of 'permanent members' from the UN security council, and peace will come running.
Ndumiso, Cape Town, South Africa

I believe the UN peacekeepers are acting within the rules of peacekeeping. Unless the rules are ammended, the peacekeepers will continue to play the role of onlookers in the face of grave human rights violations. The UN is cought up in a situation that it was not founded to tackle. The UN was founded to prevent interstate wars, not internal coflicts. However, since the end of the Cold War the threat of massive interstate wars seems to be less likely. But it's now replaced by internal complex wars. In 1999 the UN Secretary General asked a panel to recommend new ways to make the body more effective. The panel came up with a beautiful Brahimi Report, but the report is yet to be agreed upon or implemented. It is also to be remembered that the UN is not a federal body but confederal. It depends entirely on the willingness of member states, or the coalition of the willing. Since the UN depends now on regional forces because of lack of effective guidelines, it's upto Africans and their Western allies to build a quick reaction force. The UN can takeover only for nation-building process. Such as disarmaments, rehabilitation, building of police forces, the rule of law, help with new constitution, building social institutions, organize general elections and help build a stable economy.
Teddy Albert Bandima, Saskatoon, Canada

The UN peacekeeping force has always been a farce. These soldiers normally stand by and do nothing to help non combatants / civilians defend themselves. The UN stand around looking good in their uniforms and help no one. A complete waste of tax payers money. Get rid of them all and save us the embarrassment of seeing them stand by as men women and children get slaughtered.
John McCash, Perth, Scotland

One thing that the DR Congo government should learn is that they will have to take charge of the things if they want peace. You cannot expect a third party to bring a permanent solution to your problems. Of course they can take assistance from the UN. Also if the UN is serious in its effort then they should look at the root cause of the problem and help the DR Congo government overcome it. The UN should help DR Congo in bringing structural changes they should help DR Congo to train their army so that they can be more disciplined and more committed to the country. They should help the government to improve infrastructure and raise jobs. The most important is that they should help the government to build roads and connect the cities.
Yogendra Rawat, Bukavu, DR Congo, (INDIAN)

Surely it's not the UN's role to keep peace in Africa. Africa should wake up and find solutions to their own problems. They created them, and why should the UN fund it. All the African leaders are sitting fat with all the money provided for relief aid to African Countries, the people don't see any of this!!
Keith Kumst, Johannesburg South Africa

One thing for being a peacekeeper is to keep peace, therefore if the UN peacekeeping forces are not up to the task, i.e., keeping peace, then they should give way so that those whose business is to keep peace will take over - maybe, an Africa police peace.
Richard Amaechi, Aba, Nigeria

The UN peacekeepers are historically hamstrung by the UN itself and ineffectual when violence actually breaks out. In order to regain credibility it needs to be able to act with greater autonomy once put into place or it's just window-dressing. I don't think I need to mention anything other than Rwanda where UN troops had no authority to intervene and weren't given additional forces to make a difference when they could have.
Sean Aaron, Stirling, Scotland

The world is too big, conflicts too many, and the UN is too small to fight wars, it can only keep the peace. Instead, rapid reaction forces, under the auspices of the UN and the international community at large, should be proposed for troublesome regions, to intervene where possible, but mooted from the same ethnic backgrounds as the trouble spot - this to avoid suspicions of 'external' agendas other than restoring the peace.
Njabu, Zimbabwe

I'm surprised by the degree of bitterness and anger against the UN expressed by many of your correspondents, and find myself wondering on what they base their opinions. I have first-hand experience as a UN peacekeeper(in Bosnia)as well as in various civilian international community jobs, including several in conflict areas.

I completely disagree that the UN should be "thrown out" and that somehow these problems would magically morph into some kind of group hug. It is important to understand that the UN is only deployed when there is no other option - "cushy" peacekeeping jobs get grabbed by other organisations that are able to move faster, usually because they have less political baggage or more sovereignty. The reason the UN has this baggage is because it is imposed by the member states - all of them, not the "colonialist interferers" that disappeared 1/2 a century ago.

The UN is a bigger thing than any of these petty wars, terrible though each of them is. Famously its leader embodies its two, often contradictory roles, Secretary and General. Are these the tasks of the General Assembly / Security Council?

We saw all too clearly in late-Zaire/early-DRC what happens when any states that take a fancy decide to get involved in a local war. Hence the need for concensus.

The brutal truth is that the UN, the tool of last resort, is so involved in Africa because there is no better way, assuming you view the map from the long-term, global angle. If there were a better way don't people think it might have been tried by now? Correspondents should not kid themselves into thinking that there is a magic cure for all the world's/continent's problems.
Alex, former UN peacekeeper




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SEE ALSO:
Europe backs African army plan
01 Apr 04 |  Africa
UN troops spread across Africa
03 Mar 04 |  Africa


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