Copyright (c) 1995 Cornell International Law Journal
Cornell International Law Journal
SYMPOSIUM: Peacekeeping, Peacemaking, & Peacebuilding: The Role of the United Nations in Global Conflict: Permanent Peacekeeping: The Theoretical & Practical Feasibility of a United Nations Force: Is a Standing United Nations Army Possible? Or Desirable?
28 Cornell Int'l L.J. 673
Shibley Telhami *
The current state of U.N. military operations, especially in the area of peace enforcement, is not sustainable. A large disparity exists between international expectations and existing U.N. capabilities which, if not addressed, could undermine the effectiveness of the United Nations and weaken international norms. The question is how to address this disparity.
I shall argue that the formation of an effective standing U.N. army is neither possible nor desirable in the foreseeable future. Instead, it is both preferable and possible to seek incremental steps that could narrow the gap between expectations and capabilities and ultimately enhance the power of the United Nations.
If a fundamental transformation of the United Nations became possible following the collapse of the U.S.-Soviet rivalry (and it is not clear that it ever was possible), the most opportune moment for change - the months immediately following the Persian Gulf War of 1991 - may have passed. The births of both the League of Nations and the United Nations immediately followed major wars that altered international politics because the dominant world powers were able to exploit unique moments of opportunity. Although the expedient interests of these powers were the driving force behind change, the result was, nonetheless, the creation of long-lasting and consequential multilateral institutions. The end of the 1991 Gulf War may have temporarily provided another opportunity for transformation, largely because the United States was widely believed to wield extraordinary power in international affairs (perhaps even more so than it actually did). This perception was ...
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