Peacekeepers in Somalia Weren’t Always an Option

Piggybacking on Mark’s response to Alex Thurston’s disagreement with Ban’s report on Somalia, there are a couple of things we must keep in mind.

First, the Secretary-General’s suggestion of possibly deploying peacekeepers in Somalia (eventually, at least) was not always his idea. As Edith Lederer of the AP reminds us, Ban has previously actually resisted pressure to push for a peacekeeping force.

In December, the Security Council called on Ban to plan for the possible deployment of U.N. peacekeepers to replace the African Union force now in Somalia. The council was reiterating a request it initially made in August that Ban rejected.

Compare Ban’s most recent report to the one he gave in November. From Reuters:

“Under the prevailing political and security situation, I believe that the deployment of a United Nations peacekeeping operation cannot be considered a realistic and viable option,” Ban said in a report to the Security Council.

Ban’s latest report is not simply a clarion call for another mission for over-stretched UN peacekeepers. Rather, by assessing the prevailing political, security, and humanitarian conditions, Ban is cautiously laying out the process by which blue helmets could most reasonably and effectively be deployed. This would not only result in a more effective mission, but would also alleviate the pragmatic problem of securing troops from Member States.

Second, it’s not that the additional 17,000-odd troops for Darfur haven’t been found; it’s that the Sudanese government has not accepted the pledges of non-African countries. Stronger efforts are needed to overcome Sudan’s objections and actually deploy these troops, yes, but the offers of troop-contributing countries have been welcome.