Necessary but not necessarily sufficient

The Secretary-General’s last report on Somalia provides necessary but not necessarily sufficient requirements for a hope of success with a UN integrated mission, implicitly one which would try to build a whole state apparatus. I agree with you, we need to heed the lessons of 1993 and not blunder into another “mission impossible” — a point that I have been trying to make.

The S-G does present a less aspirational scenario and contingency plan — for a robust (8,000 strong) “stabilization force” to replace the Ethiopians and hopefully reduce political polarization while committing fewer human rights abuses, reducing “collateral damage” (see the latest) and maybe even helping to create a bit more humanitarian space. He rightly says that this is not a job for the UN, but requires a coalition of the willing made up of nations with high-end military capabilities. The chances of actually generating such a force have to be as poor, if not worse, than those of producing another UN “super mission”.The prognosis is not good, and it is indeed a lot easier to raid suspected terror cells in the ungoverned space than it is to create a semblance of a state that can uphold some kind of rule of law. For example, no one squealed too loudly when two U.S. sea-launched cruise missiles hit a village in southern Somalia last month. Great score, perhaps, for the war on terror — but not so great for humanity. Tomahawks are not cheap, but they are a cheaper and easier option than actually saving lives and protecting the weak, which is what Eric hopes UNAMID can do in Darfur. Creating a democracy out of dust, or even establishing a viable rule of law may not be possible, but providing sufficient security for humanitarian workers to feed 4 million people at risk of starvation should not be beyond the art of the possible.

If Darfur indeed heralds the demise of UN peacekeeping, we all lose some of our humanity — and any claim we may have had to morality in international relations.