The recent pirate attacks off the coast of Somalia have piqued international interest in the state of anarchy in Somalia. The African Union has requested that the UN take over the African Union Mission in Somalia, and while this option has been shelved for the moment, it is worth examining lessons learned from other UN take-overs of regional missions. The UN has on several occasions taken over regional missions, with Liberia and Darfur are prime examples. However, while some may think substituting a UN peacekeeping mission in replacement of under-staffed and under-funded regional missions will dramatically improve the situation, this is rarely the case.
The UN’s Mission in Liberia (UNOMIL), initially numbering 400 troops in 1993, did not successfully quell violence in Liberia, and was in fact reduced to 90 troops when the country became extremely violent and reached the point of near total anarchy in 1996.