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News Crisis in Sudan - a UN failure?

  1. Jun 25, 2005 #1
    For the last two decades, Sudan has been in a state of complete anarchy. The Muslim government has been determined to be responsible for the deaths of over 2 million people in that country, more than 1/2 a million in the last 2 years alone.

    How many of these people could have been saved if a nation had unilaterally sent in their military to restore order? Due to the fact that up until recently no UN action has been taken, this crisis has been held up as an example of failure of the UN model.

    The question for debate: in such a clear case of human tragedy, is going to war unilaterally justified if it saves the lives of innocents? Or should we retain our international responsibility to consensus, no matter the cost?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 25, 2005 #2


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    Here is a useful link detailing the history of the current crisis in Sudan;

    Although it is an unmitigated mess I do not believe sending in large scale forces would in any way resolve the situation and would only add UN peacekeepers to the roll of the dead. The best the international community can do is protect certain vulnerable areas, a task currently being undertaken by a coalition of African forces and impose severe financial sanctions on the perpetrators.
    It is hard to think of a single instance where foreign troops have interceded successfully in a civil war. Spectacular failures have been Vietnam and Afghanistan - (first the British, then the Russians)
    n.b. I have deliberately excluded recent US interventions to avoid the usual controversies.
  4. Jun 25, 2005 #3


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    A common criticism I've seen raised of the theory of financial sanctions against a government is that it tends to translate into stagnation or decline of the country's economy, infrastructure, and quality of life.

    (In other words, it's destroying the country in order to save it)

    It would be nice if there is a response to these criticisms -- I don't think I've heard one.
  5. Jun 26, 2005 #4


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    South Africa is a good example of where sanctions were successful in bringing about peaceful change.
    The key to the effective use of sanctions is that they need to be carefully targetted such as at the personal wealth of the 'bad' guys and military embargos. Few if any African countries have munition producing capabilities. The weapons used in these 3rd world conflicts are supplied by 1st world countries and so the first and most obvious step is stop weapons manufacturers from selling their products to 3rd world countries. This results in 2 major benefits; first it significantly decreases the capacity of would be oppressors to kill their victims and secondly if at some point outside military intervention is required it makes the task a whole lot easier.
  6. Jun 26, 2005 #5
    yes, but in both vietnam and afghanistan you had another opposing superpower supporting the opposite side, so it really didn't stand a chance. what wound up happening was an escalation.

    but if a single nation were to step in, i believe that militarily enforcing a peace can work. examples would be US intervention in haiti and afghanistan (the recent conflicts there).
  7. Jun 26, 2005 #6
    then what is the role of the peacekeeper if not to make peace? are we to only send them in after a major force has alread gone in and mopped up the heavy fighting? if so, then that is what i am arguing for as well. if not, then that would be failure of the UN to stop conflict. take your pick.
  8. Jun 26, 2005 #7


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    UN peacekeeping forces are usually deployed in areas at the invitation of the combatants who have already agreed a ceasefire and are looking for international military overview to ensure terms are adhered to as they do not trust each other; hence the term peacekeepers. What you are suggesting is a force of peacemakers which is an entirely different concept and which for reasons previously stated, in my opinion would more often than not simply inflame the situation.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 26, 2005
  9. Jun 26, 2005 #8
    ok, then i guess what i am suggesting, the role of peacemakers, is outside the scope of the UN then?
  10. Jun 26, 2005 #9


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    The UN has no troops of it's own. It relies entirely on the services of member countries who decide where and how their nationals will be deployed. To-date it has been involved in 60 peacekeeping missions since 1948.
    It currently has 66,000 people (military and police) on duty in 16 troublespots around the world and is stretched to the limit. To extend it's peacekeeping mandate to include peacemaking would require the political will of the member states backed by the men and materials needed to exercise the fresh mandate.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 26, 2005
  11. Jun 26, 2005 #10
    now you are dancing around the issue. you know full well that the UN has deployed peacemakers in the past. And yes, we all know that the members of the UN supply the troops, but they fly the UN banner when they are used in that capacity and thus become "UN troops".

    but, since you are essentially saying that the UN is incapable of a peacemaking capacity, then it is up to an individual nation (most likely the US - given that they have the largest military and can afford it) to take the responsibility themselves for restoring order, as the US did in Haiti, for example. the only alternative is to let human tragedy continue, and certain no one would like to see that, right?

    i think that alexandra was right: noone is interested in this discussion at all (except for myself, Hurkyl and Art). it is so much easier to just start a "bash America on Iraq" thread and watch it fill with pages...
  12. Jun 26, 2005 #11


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    My memory's fuzzy, and/or lacking: examples would be nice!

    Is that why things don't happen, though? Does the U.N. say "We'd really love to help out, but we don't have the manpower?", or just not bring these things up at all?

    Is there a good reference for the U.N.'s history on Sudan?
  13. Jun 26, 2005 #12
  14. Jun 26, 2005 #13


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    Current UN Mission in Sudan and background - http://www.un.org/Depts/dpko/missions/unmis/ [Broken]

    UN Peacekeeping Operations - Current and Past - http://www.un.org/Depts/dpko/dpko/text.htm [Broken]

    IMO - Not only has the UN failed, but so have the industrialized nations for allowing the situation in Darfur to evolve to the point where 10's of thousands died.

    For more background see - http://www.everything-science.com/components/com_smf/index.php?topic=5198.0 [Broken]. I need to update it.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
  15. Jun 26, 2005 #14


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    Check your article again, the information is in there. The UN were there in the role of peacekeepers to monitor a ceasefire not to impose one.

    Again they went as peacekeepers to observe and confirm that both sides were honouring their agreement with no threat of military action if they did not.

    Same as above. Oxfam may well have pressed for UN involvement but the UN does not step in the middle of firefights.
    The fact is the donor countries who supply the UN troops do so on condition that there is minimal risk of death or injury as politicians find it hard to justify to their electorate why their national servicemen and women should die for a cause that is not transparently in the national interest.
    As an example T. Blair suggested he would consider sending forces to Sudan and was instantly attacked by all sides of the political spectrum. Needless to say that idea was quickly dropped.

    To my knowledge I can think of only a few instances where the UN have intervened prior to a cessation of hostilities and even then only when one of the combatants asked them to. These are the Congo, Korea and Cyprus none of which you could call a resounding success.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 26, 2005
  16. Jun 26, 2005 #15
    really? from the article:

    "They are the peacemakers of the world and we Ethiopians are committed to peace.

    "This was a war we didn't want and we need the UN peacemakers to help us restore peace," he said.

    it is true that a cease-fire was declared - but when isn't there? there were also cease-fires in Sudan. There's a ceasefire in Iraq now too, yet hostilities continue - so where is the UN to help?
  17. Jun 26, 2005 #16


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    That quote is from an African student not the UN!!!!!! I doubt he would have a clue as to the difference in the meaning of the two terms. In fact he obviously doesn't as the UN were definitely not there to impose a ceasefire.
  18. Jun 26, 2005 #17
    you didn't address the second part of my post - i admitted that a cease-fire was declared.

    my point is: when isn't there? that is how the death-toll continue to grow - fighting, cease-fire, fighting, cease-fire, etc. with no one there to kick some rear-end when things get out of control.

    see? i said it.

    so...in your opinion, Art, the UN should not be involved in these affairs. Since I don't want to put word in your mouth, you have said:

    Fair enough. I think that you make a compelling argument.

    But this is where I turn things around and say: so what is the point of the U.N. if not to resolve such matters? And to take it even further: the rest of the world should have no gripes if the US takes matters into their own hands with or without international approval.
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2005
  19. Jun 26, 2005 #18


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    I wasn't aware the US was considering sending troops to the Sudan? Can you provide details?
  20. Jun 26, 2005 #19
    if we do, will you still complain about it? would you support it? because i'm sure that factors into the decision making process.
  21. Jun 26, 2005 #20


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    Do I take it from this reply that there are no plans for the US to intervene militarily in the Sudan?

    p.s. Flattering as the idea is I doubt very much the US admin. are waiting for my yea or nea. :smile:
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