Expectations and reality, the rapid reaction peace-keeping capabilities of the United States

Thumbnail Image
Wood, Stephanie D.
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
As peace-keeping goes through a continuous process of evolution it attempts to mold itself to fit the situations in which it is deployed. The largest change which affected peace-keeping was the end of the Cold War. It resulted in what has been referred to as second generation peace-keeping. Peace-keepers are dispatched to civil wars which involve situations of extreme violence largely affecting civilians. It is these second generation peace-keeping operations which has placed high demands on peace-keeping which could not be fulfilled by middle powers alone, thus introducing the major powers into peace-keeping. This change in peace-keeping led to calls for rapid responses by the United Nations to quell the high levels of violence and reduce civilian suffering. One suggestion made by middle powers was a standing UN force. Middle powers sough the creation of a standing UN force for two reasons: first as a means to reduce the suffering of civilians in civil war, and second to elevate the role of middle powers in the UN, which had declined as a result of major power involvement in peace-keeping. The reality, however, is that most UN Members are not comfortable with the concept of a standing UN force. Consequently, the UN developed four alternatives which are referred to as the rapid reaction capabilities. They are the Standby Arrangements Initiative, the Mission Planning Service, the Rapidly Deployable Mission Headquarters and the United Nations High Readiness Brigade. Through analyzing the support each proposal received both during and after its creation, it becomes evident that rapid deployment is hindered not by the availability of resources, but by political will. It is the same lack of political will which prevents the creation of a standing UN force.