EDITORIAL: Peacekeeping can only succeed when the lines are clearly drawn

The just concluded International Conference on the Protection of Civilians, held in Kigali, came out with some very sound advice for future peacekeeping operations.

The justconcluded International Conference on the Protection of Civilians, held in Kigali, came out with some very sound advice for future peacekeeping operations.

After decades of peacekeeping debacles in all corners of the world, this was the right time for the international introspection, and there was no better place to dissect the operations than in Rwanda.

Not only is the country one of the major troop contributing countries that operate in several theatres, it also bore the brunt of  a disastrous indecisive and poor peacekeeping that led to the loss over a million people during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

Among the major recommendations, dubbed the “Kigali Principles on the Protection of Civilians”, was that there was urgent need for clear rules of engagement before every operation.

For many failed operations, like in Rwanda in 1994, there was no clear mandate of when to use force in order to protect civilians, and it had dire consequences. Now that will have to be written in bold.

But the icing on the cake in the Kigali Principles was that troop contributing countries pledged to closely monitor civil rights abuses and impending violence, and to mete out disciplinary action if their contingents fail to act to protect civilians.

So, the UN High Level Summit on Peacekeeping Operations has some food for thought when it meets in September. Otherwise, peacekeeping losses meaning when the men and women on the ground are deployed with their hands tied, as millions are slaughtered right before their eyes.

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