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The Cost of Skimping on Peacekeeping

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The Cost of Skimping on Peacekeeping

Posted by Julia Keyser on December 30, 2008

Peacekeeping is rarely easy, but it is almost never effective when regional organizations try to do ‘peace on the cheap.’ In Liberia in the early 1990s, the Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) was forced to rely heavily on Nigeria for both financing and troops.  Soldiers were not only poorly equipped, but under-fed and under-paid. ECOMOG then took seven years to disarm Taylor’s rebels and organize elections, which were won by none other than Charles Taylor himself.

Darfur’s vast land area and huge numbers of IDPs simply overwhelmed the insufficiently-numbered African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) troops, who initially deployed to Darfur in 2004. AMIS also faced significant problems related to the ill-formed web of command between Addis Ababa, Khartoum, and El Fasher.

Another African Union mission, AMISOM, was deployed to Somalia in early 2007 in the midst of the U.S.-backed Ethiopian invasion of Somalia. As Somalia continues to spiral downward, AMISOM remains on the ground, although earlier this year, the mission was forced to restrict its activities solely to “confidence-building patrols,” due to its severe lack of troops and an exceedingly slow deployment. Most importantly, nationals do not feel safer with the recent escalation in violence despite AMISOM’s presence.

For more on lessons learned from a number of peacekeeping missions in the 1990s, see Frederick Fleitz’s book, Peacekeeping Fiascoes of the 1990s.