This report addresses the responsibility of the United Nations (U.N.) for the cholera epidemic in Haiti—one of the largest cholera epidemics in modern history. The report provides a comprehensive analysis of the evidence that the U.N. brought cholera to Haiti, relevant international legal and humanitarian standards necessary to understand U.N. accountability, and steps that the U.N. and other key national and international actors must take to rectify this harm. Despite overwhelming evidence linking the U.N. Mission for the Stabilization in Haiti (MINUSTAH) to the outbreak, the U.N. has denied responsibility for causing the epidemic. The organization has refused to adjudicate legal claims from cholera victims or to otherwise remedy the harms they have suffered. By causing the epidemic and then refusing to provide redress to those affected, the U.N. has breached its commitments to the Government of Haiti, its obligations under international law, and principles of humanitarian relief. Now, nearly four years after the epidemic began, the U.N. is leading efforts to eliminate cholera but has still not taken responsibility for its own actions. As new infections continue to mount, accountability for the U.N.’s failures in Haiti is as important as ever.
Peacekeeping without Accountability: The United Nations' Responsibility for the Haitian Cholera epidemicBy Rosalyn Chan MD, MPH, Tassity Johnson, Charanya Krishnaswami, Samuel Oliker-Friedland and Celso Perez CarballoPublished October 15, 2013
The UN Intervention Brigade in the Democratic Republic of the CongoInternational Peace InstitutePublished July 11, 2013
After nearly fourteen years of peacekeeping in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the United Nations established a new, more aggressive kind of force for the conflict-stricken nation in March 2013: the Intervention Brigade. Situated within the existing United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), this offensive combat force is designed to break the persistent cycles of violence in DRC and protect civilians by carrying out targeted operations to neutralize rebel forces.
Briefing Paper: Annual Review of Global Peace Operations 2012Center on International CooperationPublished March 16, 2012
The past year could have been a disastrous one for U.N. peacekeeping. Twelve months ago, Côte d’Ivoire appeared to be on the brink of renewed civil war in spite of the presence there of United Nations and French forces. South Sudan’s vote for independence in January 2011 also had the potential to unleash mass violence. From Haiti to Liberia to the Democratic Republic of Congo, peacekeepers were charged with overseeing elections that might have resulted in significant instability. In Somalia, U.N.-mandated African Union (AU) forces were locked in grinding combat with Islamist al-Shabab rebels.
Yet peace operations demonstrated an unexpected degree of resilience overall, as chronicled in the Center on International Cooperation’s new Annual Review of Global Peace Operations. The U.N. reasserted itself in Côte d’Ivoire, and though presidential polls in the DRC proved to be deeply flawed, those in Haiti and Liberia were conducted relatively smoothly thanks in part to the U.N. In Somalia, al-Shabab pulled back from Mogadishu as the AU forces took the initiative. Other regional organizations also found themselves being drawn into peace operations: The Arab League sent an admittedly ill-fated observer mission to Syria, while the Association of Southeast Asian Nations mandated an observer mission to help reduce tensions on the Thai-Cambodian border.
From Militants to Policemen: Three Lessons from U.S. Experience with DDR and SSRBy Alison Laporte-OshiroPublished November 17, 2011
This report is based on the panel presentation and the views expressed at a September 12, 2011 meeting of the Security Sector Reform working group. The panel included retired Ambassador James Dobbins, RAND Corp., retired Lt. Gen. David Barno, Center for New American Security, retired Ambassador John Blaney, Deloitte Consulting LLP and Melanne Civic, the Center for Complex Operations. Robert Perito, the Director of USIP’s Security Sector Governance Center, moderated the panel. Consolidating the legitimate use of force in the hands of the state is a
vital first step in post-conflict peacebuilding. Transitional
governments must move quickly to neutralize rival armed groups and
provide a basic level of security for citizens.
The African Union's Conflict Management CapabilitiesBy Paul D. WilliamsPublished October 1, 2011
In this Working Paper, Paul D. Williams clarifies how Africa's strategic importance to the United States has increased substantially over the past decade. In particular, the continent is a growing source of U.S. energy imports; it houses suspected terrorists; and it offers profitable business opportunities, especially in the energy, telecommunication, and minerals sectors. As Chinese and Indian influence spread and explicitly challenge the U.S. development model, Africa is an arena of intensifying great power rivalry. And, critically, Africa remains the major epicenter for mass atrocities as well as a potential source of transcontinental health pandemics. Consequently, stabilizing the continent should be a core U.S. policy goal.
The African Union (AU) has great potential as a U.S. partner in Africa. Unfortunately, the AU's practical capabilities in the field of conflict management suffer from a persistent capabilities-expectations gap, falling well short of the ambitious vision and rhetoric contained in its founding documents. The AU's shortcomings are not fatal, however; the U.S. government can bolster AU conflict management capacity in the near and long terms.
Military Planning to Protect Civilians: Proposed Guidance for United Nations Peacekeeping OperationsBy Max Kelly with Alison GiffenPublished September 1, 2011
Since 1999, an increasing proportion of UN peacekeeping operations (UN PKOs) have been mandated to use force to protect civilians from physical violence. Although recent research and UN efforts have helped clarify that the protection of civilians (POC) is a critical and unavoidable requirement for UN PKOs, its implications for UN planning, and particular planning for the military component, prior to and during deployment remain largely unaddressed in formal guidance. Recent initiatives by DPKO and individual missions to develop guidance, conceptual tools, and working methods to implement POC mandates have demonstrated remarkable ingenuity.
This document is intended to support those processes by drawing on recent scholarship and operational research on the challenges of ending complex civil conflicts. It seeks to apply that research to better employ the military capabilities of UN PKOs to alter conflict dynamics in order to end attacks on civilians. Drawing on lessons from recent UN PKOs and interviews with mission personnel from a wide variety of contexts, it proposes a shift from a primarily reactive approach based on crisis response, to a proactive one that seizes the initiative and applies pressure on armed actors responsible for violence against the civilian populace.
Partners in Preventive Action: The U.S. and International InstitutionsBy Paul B. Stares and Micah ZenkoPublished September 1, 2011
The unipolar moment, to the extent it ever existed, has now truly passed. The United States is part of a globalized world, in which the flows of goods, finance, people, and much more connect us to other countries as never before. But for all the myriad benefits globalization brings, it also means that the challenges of the coming decades—be they generated by resource competition, climate change, cybercrime, terrorism, or classic competition and rivalry—cannot be solved or even mitigated by one country alone. Countries will need to cooperate on policies that extend across borders to address issues that affect them all.
In this Council Special Report, CFR scholars Paul B. Stares and Micah Zenko argue that the United States should increasingly look to international institutions—the United Nations and regional organizations like the European Union, the African Union, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations—as partners in conflict prevention and peacemaking worldwide. These organizations can serve as a platform for developing and enforcing international norms; provide a source of legitimacy for diplomatic and military efforts; and aggregate the operational resources of their members, all of which can increase the ease and effectiveness of American peacemaking efforts.
The Case for UN PeacekeepingBy Micah Zenko and Rebecca R. FriedmanPublished March 2, 2011
While UN peacekeeping is in need of overarching reforms, it is too easy to forget the essential role it plays in promoting U.S. foreign policy goals. UN peacekeeping missions underpin stability in Lebanon, Haiti, Somalia, and the Indo-Pakistani border region of Kashmir. UN missions are also critical to solidifying American gains after U.S. troops leave; it is UN peacekeepers who have prevented the resurgence of violence in post-conflict areas like the Sinai desert, Bosnia, and Kosovo. In an era where a dwindling number of allies are willing to contribute to international peace and security, the UN is a reliable partner with the United States in many troubled regions--often willing to work alongside, or in lieu of, U.S. soldiers.
As Washington gears up for a tough budgetary fight, the White House must make the case for UN peacekeeping. At no other time in its sixty-three-year history has UN peacekeeping needed the United States more, nor has the United States ever needed UN peacekeeping so much. And only by shoring up support at home can President Barack Obama establish a platform for more vigorous U.S. leadership at the UN.
Mainstreaming Crime Control in Peace Operations and DevelopmentBy Walter Kemp and Ian HrovatinPublished February 8, 2011
The UN Security Council has primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, and mandates the deployment of the approximately 100,000 blue helmets engaged in peace operations. But this approach has its limitations when it comes to crime control. Organized crime is a threat to stability in almost every theater where the UN is active in keeping or building the peace.
How well equipped is the UN to address the challenges in order to promote peace and development and reduce vulnerability to transnational organized crime?
Dec. 10: The African Union mission in Somalia: decision timeBy Paul D. WilliamsPublished December 10, 2010
The African Union (AU) dubbed 2010 the year of ‘peace and security in Africa’. For the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) it has been anything but. Not only has AMISOM continued to suffer heavy casualties but several non-governmental organizations have accused it of killing hundreds of civilians through indiscriminate shelling of residential areas. There is near-universal agreement that AMISOM in its current form is incapable of fulfilling its mandate to help bring peace and stability to Somalia, but time is running out to find an alternative.
Read the rest of his essay here on SIPRI's website.