The UN knows it cannot enforce a Syria peace deal.
As negotiations to negotiate an end to the Syrian civil war plod along, the UN has admitted, internally, that it is powerless to enforce any Syria peace deal.
According to Foreign Policy, the UN knows it cannot enforce or even monitor any peace deal it brokers:
In a confidential strategy paper exclusively obtained by Foreign Policy, the office of the United Nations’ top envoy to Syria warns that the U.N. would be unable to monitor or enforce any peace deal that might emerge from landmark political talks underway in Geneva.
The paper raised concerns the world might harbor unrealistic expectations about the U.N.’s ability to oversee and verify a cease-fire in a civil war beset by a dizzying array of armed factions and terrorist groups.
“The current international and national political context and the current operational environment strongly suggest that a U.N. peacekeeping response relying on international troops or military observers would be an unsuitable modality for ceasefire monitoring,” according to the “Draft Ceasefire Modalities Concept Paper” by U.N. envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura’s team. In plain English, that means Syria will be far too dangerous for some time for traditional U.N. peacekeepers to handle.
Far from creating the basis for peace and enforcing the parties’ commitments, the UN exacerbates problems:
“It’s problematic to refer to any cease-fires [in Syria] we have seen thus far as a model; they reward collective punishment, the bombarding or starving of communities into submission,” said Noah Bonsey, an expert on Syria with the International Crisis Group.
The U.N.’s peacekeeping and political offices, meanwhile, have already begun contingency planning for a beefed-up U.N. presence in Syria if security conditions allow it. The U.N. could expand de Mistura’s office into a full-fledged political mission with fully staffed missions in Damascus and New York to supplement current operations in Geneva.
Foreign Policy’s analysis amounts to: The UN is preparing to expand its bureaucracy in Syria to enforce a non-existent peace deal it knows it is incapable of enforcing, and every prior interim deal has caused more harm than good.
But the UN’s inability to enforce its diktats is not its biggest problem. The UN is a broken institution, its Utopian purpose brought low by the reality of dozens of despots, theocracies, failed states and petty dictators voting to perpetuate themselves in anti-democratic and anti-Western blocs. They are given equal voice and use UN resolutions as a bludgeon to weaken and diminish the liberal and successful.
Even when UN peacekeepers deploy to needful places, they are often worse than farcical. UN peacekeeping missions come too late (Rwanda), are ineffective (Yugoslavia) or complicit (Lebanon), or all of the above. UN peacekeepers are sexual predators (Bosnia, Central African Republic, Haiti, Sudan). They are, in short, ineffectual at best.
NYT: Peacekeepers Accused of Sexual Abuse in Central African Republic. Maybe let’s stop calling them “peacekeepers”? https://t.co/DpMLXFKVr2
— Hillel Neuer (@HillelNeuer) January 29, 2016
“UN peacekeepers in South Sudan shuffle paperwork in air-conditioned bungalows while outside bulldozers shovel bodies into mass graves.” — Joel Selanikio (@jselanikio) January 22, 2016
Perhaps it is better that the UN just stay away. It is all well and good to create a venue for substantive talks. Rather than muddy the waters with doomed-to-fail peacekeeping offers, leave enforcement to the combatants and to nations willing to take on the risks and responsibilities of putting their own troops on the ground under their own flags.