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Last Updated: Monday, 26 May, 2003, 10:26 GMT 11:26 UK
Is the UN doing enough to stop wars in Africa?
UN peacekeepers
The UN has said that two of its deployed observers have been killed in the troubled north-eastern province of Ituri in DR Congo.

The bodies of the soldiers, a Nigerian and a Jordanian, were found buried in the town of Mongbwalu on Sunday.

The number of UN peacekeepers has so far proved to be too few to stop the fighting between ethnic militias that has left hundreds of civilians dead.

Meanwhile a team of 12 French soldiers has arrived in the country and is expected in Bunia on Tuesday.

They are believed to be planning the possible deployment of extra troops to the region.

Should more UN observers be sent to the region or should Africa be left to sort out its own conflicts? Why is France the only major power to offer its military help in African trouble-spots?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

The following comments reflect the balance of views we have received:

The UN can't force peace on anybody that is determined to fight
Rick, USA
Africa will never learn to deal with its own problems if there is continuous interference from Europeans. Let the continent evolve into whatever it will on its own. The African people must prioritise their own goals and work to achieve them. The UN can't force peace on anybody that is determined to fight, unless it wants to be there forever. The role of the organisation could be as arbitrator to countries or parties that SEEK its help in that area, but it should never force peace at gunpoint.
Rick, USA

Permanent members of the Security Council lack the political will to commit the vast financial and military resources needed to bring about peace and stability throughout Africa. This dirty little open secret they wish would just go away is one of the UN's great failures to fulfil its promise of a peaceful world.
Mark, USA

The first question that should be asked is not whether the UN is doing enough but rather where is the African Union? It is often said, and quite truly I might add, that the continent has been ignored by the world but how can the world begin to take us seriously if the African Union itself does not show initiative in stopping this war?
Walter, Kenya

The UN is not doing enough to prevent or stop wars in Africa. However each time the West tries to do so, we are accused of colonialism. Why not leave Africans to find their own solutions?
Mark, England

Why should Africa be left to sort its own problems out? DM Congo is in a state of crisis and needs serious help, be it the UN or like. The world should not wait for a full on disaster to occur before intervening. If Iraq was helped, why not countries in Africa, aren't they human beings as well?

The best thing that the UN can provide is refugee camps with food, water and sanitation
Liz Palmer, South Africa
The UN can only do so much. As Mr Moyo of Zim stated, this is a continent of dictators, that are being allowed to stay in power because of international deals brokered over fossil fuels that the West want. If the UN had any real powers, these corrupt dictators would be out. The problem of violence is too deeply rooted in the minds of the people. Most of them have no idea what the fighting is about., but young boys with no concept of justice are being forced to fight. It is a way of life that is ingrained, and has been for centuries. The best thing that the UN can provide is refugee camps with food, water and sanitation.
Liz Palmer, South Africa (but in UK)

In this humanitarian crisis, I'm happy that there is such an organisation like the UN that wants to do something about it. However, the UN is not able to react very quickly and clearly does not have a lot of resources. Some people claim that only nation states can react in these situations. The problem is they usually don't and only look out for their self-interest. If the western nations are serious about their dedication to human rights, they should give more support and means to the UN. The UN is only as strong as its (most prominent) members allow it to be.
Ruben, Belgium

With the UN, when it comes to Africa, there's is no political will. The UN peacekeeping performance in Rwanda is well known. They were present with fantastic weapons but only filming. The RPF had to come all the way from Uganda to do the Job. Now in Ituri, The UN was so vocal for the withdrawal of the UPDF which had managed to minimize the genocide. With the genocide going on now in Ituri, the UN still has a lot of time to think of what to do despite the warning of the UPDF on the possible genocide in case of a military vacuum. This warning was made far earlier before the withdrawl. Try to find out the response from the UN to this warning.
Robert, Uganda / Rwanda

Simply sending troops to stop today's conflict is not productive
Nicholas, Canada
I believe the UN is not doing enough to stop the conflicts in Africa. Though simply sending troops to stop today's conflict is not productive. The UN must create economic initiatives and reform which will ultimately bring stability to the region. It is also the responsibility of the western world to tighten the governance of imported resources from Africa, such as diamonds. These measures combined with military deployment would be a step forward towards peace in Africa.
Nicholas, Canada

Interesting question. The supporters of the UN process need to look at their role in the world. If it is to promote "stability" in the world then they need to be willing to raise an army worthy of occupying territory. Of course then you run into the problem of how that force is administered. If much of the world is controlled by dictatorships and quasi-representative governments how will we KNOW that force will be used appropriately. What you will find is that nation states are the only true reality. Ideals are wonderful things, but power is the only true enabler of change. Thank God the U.S. exists, or else the world might be speaking German, Japanese, and Italian.
Charlie, USA

Africans are human too. We have rights and surely deserve the protections that should be guaranteed by International Law. For as long as millions of civilians continue to die, more needs to be done regardless of where in the world it is. It's Africa today but it may be your continent tomorrow.
Eddie Mandhry, Kenya

The UN has no central leadership capable of providing a clear mission to military forces
Jim , USA
Individual nations are more likely to stop African wars than the UN because the UN has no central leadership capable of providing a clear mission to military forces. This means that UN forces tend to just sit around without any clear orders other than not to shoot anyone. Just as the US is expected to take responsibility for getting Iraq and Afghanistan back on their feet, former colonial powers need to do the same in Africa. Oddly enough, some of the biggest critics of American rebuilding efforts are these former colonial powers. It would be nice to see them practice what they preach rather than ignore the mess they've created. I don't see how they can claim the moral high ground when the US trying to help their former enemies while they disregard any responsibility to their former colonies.
Jim , USA

The United Nations has absolutely not done enough to bring healing to Africans ravaged by war and territorial conflicts. Instead the UN is too consumed giving support to developed nations whilst Africa is in ruins. The UN has mandate as according to the UN charter on Universal Declaration of Human Rights to unite the people of Africa and bring peace and freedom to it's people. But nope, this will make Africa too powerful and a super power. I have since then taken my hopes off the UN and now focuses on the African youth to fulfil this mandate. We're challenged by this century and I will see if the youth will fail. If they do, then that's it for the continent.
Borry Abrahams, USA

You call it United Nation, I called it Interest Nations. Because you'll never find them sponsoring a country unless they look for their future interest. Please let Africa's problems be solved by African leaders.
Talibo Saidy, Gambia

About 10 years ago the same thing happened in Rwanda
Lisa Mitchell, USA
About 10 years ago the same thing happened in Rwanda. A few UN observers were killed in an effort to scare away the UN and it worked. The UN pulled out and over 1 million people were massacred. Lets hope the UN has learned something from its past failures.
Lisa Mitchell, USA

Is there really any point? Even if the UN brokers peace agreements, they will inevitably be broken because the leadership in Africa has neither the will, nor the capacity to enforce them. A starting point would be to physically separate the tribes so that they cannot fight each other any more. Then the UN should move to dissolve the various dysfunctional independent states in the continent. The Africans, themselves, would acknowledge that the borders were imposed on them, and if it could be done with East and West Pakistan, why not in Africa?
Philip, Sydney, Australia

The UN should not only send observers but be ready to send thousands of military fighters who are in the position to restore peace.
Abraham Tucker, Sierra Leone

Africa is in decline and will be as long as the UN exists in its current structure
Gonzo J Moyo, Zimbabwe
The world's economies thrive on the instability of Africa and the Third World. The UN is funded mainly by these economies. The organisation is therefore powerless to do anything positive in Africa. With 23 dictators and 7 aspiring dictators in the continent, the potential for unrest is increasing not decreasing. Africa is in decline and will be as long as the UN exists in its current structure.
Gonzo J Moyo, Zimbabwe

To suggest that the Congolese war is an African conflict is misleading. Do you know how many corporations from the US, UK, Belgium and France are involved in exploiting natural resources in the Congo today? Secondly, where do you think the weapons come from that are being used in the war in Congo?
Ezabele wa Yasak, USA

Why do Africans wait for the world? Don't you realise all this is the work of colonisation? Unity and democracy are the only way Africa can be safe.
Melaku, USA

A more balanced approach is required for the long term benefit of the continent
Sophie Pasha, Hong Kong
No, it is not. France is doing too much, the UN too little - a more balanced approach is required for the long term benefit of the continent as well as to prevent the perpetuation of a post-colonial French interest.
Sophie Pasha, Hong Kong

The UN should take the African issue seriously and more peacekeeping missions be sent to the continent. However, the basic reason of wars in Africa is poverty, corruption and unemployment. Ethnic violence is an upshot of these. Serious efforts to raise the standard of living of the African people should be expected from the world community.
Sachin Vats, India

It's outrageous that the West does not do anything for Africa. We have seen the speed at which America and Britain reacted to invade Iraq. It was suppose to be for the people of Iraq. What about the people of Africa? Does anybody care about my continent?
Michel D. Balombelly, Brazzaville, Congo

The limited mandate of the peacekeepers
Grace, USA
Part of the problem is the limited mandate of the peacekeepers. Often they are only empowered to stand by and watch as horrific abuses take place. Rather than placing blame on the UN as an entity, we, as a world made up of nations, need to take responsibility for addressing the underlying issues of under-development, corruption and human rights abuses that contribute to the existence of conflicts in Africa and elsewhere. This includes debt forgiveness, capacity building and NOT supporting regimes that abuse or neglect their people (even if we stand to gain from such alliances).
Grace, USA

I have no doubt the UN is hamstrung by a range of factors from logistical problems to a lack of funds and political will, all of which potentially render the organisation useless in resolving seemingly intractable African conflicts. The situation cannot be allowed to continue. The UN will soon be rendered useless, and, in the absence of an alternative global agency, its demise may further polarise the world. For a start annual dues should be prioritised and if a state fails to pay, it should be suspended along with its voting power. In addition, the principle of adherence to international law should be pursued as rigorously as that of domestic law.
Lisle Daverin, South Africa

The conflicts in Africa are not caused by so-called long standing disputes but simply by the opportunism and greed that has arisen out of poor leadership, greed, corruption and sheer wickedness. Africa should never expect any world organisation to resolve its disputes. We as a continent, and as nation states have to take responsibility for ourselves, mediate our own disputes and find resolution.
Akua Baffoe, UK

Sending peacekeepers is one thing
Nollascus Ganda, Kenya/ Russia
Museveni is right about the UN peacekeepers, they are useless. Sending peacekeepers is one thing but getting serious on solving tribal conflict is another. Africa is neglected by the UN and the world, no one cares.
Nollascus Ganda, Kenya...but in Russia

Useless the UN may be (no doubt about that), President Museveni of Uganda should be the last to criticise it in the DRC. Museveni has more Congolese people blood on his hand than the UN. In a UN report early this year, Uganda was accused of manipulating the very same Lendu & Hema to stir trouble after the Ugandan Army withdrawal from the region. As for western countries, only the interest of their countries or people count, something African leaders and people should learn.
Papy, UK

In theory the UN is a truly viable institution. But sound hoping and planning isn't enough, it is still run by partisan sides with ulterior motives. UN is 'trying' to stop injustice, wars, and oppression (not just in Africa), but because of some of its main players, it lacks the will and stamina to make a bold stand against these kinds of aggressions.
Jason, USA

Nope. Migration is the only hope for Africans as long as we continue to be neglected.
Amoroso Gombe, Kenya

The wars in Africa are often motivated by long standing tribal differences. The only way to resolve these conflicts is to get the tribal representatives together to negotiate peace. The presence of UN peacekeepers can help, but the root of the problem is what must be resolved.
Raymnond Wilson, England

Double standards are not only applied in countries' policies, the UN follows the footprints of policies adopted by countries that have the guts to speak and be heard. Where do all the weapons come from? How many African countries manufacture the sort of complicated weaponry they use in killing each other? Stop weapons proliferation first, and then send peace keepers. Anything short of that would be a fruitless venture
Nyiwul Linus, Cameroon

I do not remember African leaders speaking in one voice for one day let alone solving their own problems. It is a continent known with more social crises and man-made problems since most of the leaders are not true representatives of the people. Democracy is a solution for most of African problems and conflicts than UN peacekeepers. If there were democracy in Eritrea and Ethiopia we wouldn't see 4,200 peacekeepers at common boarder of these countries today.
Abera/Maryland, U.S.A

UN approves Ivory Coast mission
13 May 03  |  Africa


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