[January 7, 2007. This talk is an abridgement of a draft of a longer paper. It is not to be cited or redistributed without written permission from the author. Copyright 2007 John W. Lango.]

 

UN PEACEKEEPING MISSIONS AND JUST WAR PRINCIPLES:

THE CASES OF RWANDA AND DARFUR

 

John W. Lango

Professor

Department of Philosophy

Hunter College of the City University of New York

695 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10021 USA

john.lango@hunter.cuny.edu

 

 

Just War Principles

Traditionally, just war principles have been applied to wars between states.[1] Since the end of the Cold War, they have also been applied to armed humanitarian interventions. In this talk, I shall presuppose that they can be generalized, so that they are applicable to all forms of armed conflict.[2] In particular, I shall discuss how they can be applied to military operations by a robust UN peacekeeping mission with a Chapter VII mandate authorizing the use of military force against peace agreement spoilers. I shall term such a mission an armed UN peacekeeping mission.

My understanding of just war theory is somewhat revisionary, and so I shall begin by summarizing some core tenets. Ideally, just war theory should be a politically (or ideologically) neutral framework within which the justice or injustice of particular cases of armed conflict may be debated rationally. Just war principles morally constrain agents from using military force unjustly. When agents deliberate about whether to use military force, they ought to make the moral presumption that they must not. To override this moral presumption, they have the burden of proving that relevant just war principles are satisfied. A metaethical basis for imposing such a burden of proof is that, because armed conflict regularly involves acts of killing human beings and other very harmful acts, the decision to use military force must be rigorously justified.[3]

In the just war tradition, some just war principles govern the resort to war (i.e., jus ad bellum principles) and others govern the conduct of war (i.e., jus in bello principles). It might be thought that only jus in bello principles are applicable to military operations by armed UN peacekeeping missions. However, a main theme of my talk is that jus ad bellum principles also are applicable. In what follows, I shall discuss how the just cause, competent authority, and last resort principles are applicable.

 

Armed UN Peacekeeping Missions

Originally, in interceding in an armed conflict, a UN peacekeeping mission was regulated by three cardinal principles.[4] First, it must have the consent of the parties to the conflict. Second, it must be impartial between them. Third, it must use military force only in its own self-defense. Consider, for example, the case of Rwanda.[5] The parties engaged in armed conflict were the Hutu government of Rwanda and a Tutsi rebel group, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF). In a formal peace agreement signed in August 1993, the Arusha Peace Agreement, these two parties consented to the deployment in Rwanda of a UN peacekeeping mission (UNAMIR). In the rules of engagement for UNAMIR, it was stated that weapons were to be used "normally for self-defense only".[6] Tragically, when the genocide began in April 1994, the UN peacekeepers had to remain impartial, and could not use military force to attempt to stop the genocide. By the end of April 1994, UNAMIR was abandoned.

In contrast, a large-scale UN peace enforcement operation involves the military invasion of a target state (or states) -- for example, the Korean War and the Gulf War. Additionally, a more limited military operation of armed humanitarian intervention, when authorized or endorsed by a Security Council resolution, is a UN peace enforcement operation -- for instance, Operation Restore Hope in Somalia.

It might be thought that UN peace enforcement operations ought to be conceptualized in terms of a war model, whereas UN peacekeeping missions ought to be conceptualized in terms of a police model.[7] However, I think that both ought to be conceptualized in terms of a limited war model, with the recognition that there should be a gamut of options between the extremes of old-fashioned UN peacekeeping missions and large-scale UN peace enforcement operations. Some examples of these options are naval blockades, the use of air power to impose no-fly zones, and small-scale missions by rapid-reaction forces. Integral to a limited war model is the idea of limited uses of military force, or threats of limited uses of military force, to achieve otherwise unobtainable diplomatic or political goals.

In accordance with a limited war model, my view is that there should be a gamut of options for armed UN peacekeeping missions. For instance, there is the option of such a mission authorized to use military force to prevent crimes against humanity but not to intervene in a civil war. Additionally, there is the option of such a mission authorized to use military force both to prevent crimes against humanity and to intervene in a civil war.

To serve as cardinal principles for armed UN peacekeeping missions, let me suggest that the above three principles for old-fashioned UN peacekeeping missions should be revised roughly as follows. First, an armed UN peacekeeping mission must have the consent of the parties to the conflict, but their consent may be coerced for example, by the threat of armed humanitarian intervention if they withhold consent. This principle is termed the coerced consent principle. Second, so long as the parties do not resume their conflict, an armed UN peacekeeping mission must be impartial between them, but it may use military force to compel them to adhere to the provisions of their peace agreement. This principle is termed the bounded impartiality principle. Third, an armed UN peacekeeping mission may use military force against peace agreement spoilers not only in its own self-defense but also to prevent crimes against humanity and to attain other legitimate objectives. Such uses of military force may be both reactive and proactive. This principle is termed the robust force principle.

 

The Just Cause Principle

How, then, are just war principles applicable to armed UN peacekeeping missions? Obviously, jus in bello principles ought to be applied -- for example, the principle of discrimination (or noncombatant immunity). Briefly, the discrimination principle requires that, during the conduct of a military operation by an armed UN peacekeeping mission, noncombatants must not be intentionally harmed. But a main theme of my talk is, as I have said, that jus ad bellum principles also are applicable -- for example, the just cause principle.

Traditionally, a just cause for resorting to war is the attack of an aggressor. However, the just cause here is not the occurrence of the attack. Instead, the just cause is the just goal of repelling the attack. The just cause principle morally constrains states from resorting to wars that have unjust goals. To generalize, it morally constrains agents from resorting to uses of military force that have unjust goals. For instance, it morally constrains coalitions of the willing from resorting to armed humanitarian interventions that have unjust goals. And it morally constrains armed UN peacekeeping missions from resorting to military operations that have unjust goals.

What goals are just? I shall propose a comprehensive answer to this question. The just causes for uses of military force are the just goals of countering sufficiently clear and serious harms to the security of states or human beings.[8] For example, the attack of an aggressor is a sufficiently clear and serious harm to the security of a state, and genocide is a sufficiently clear and serious harm to the security of human beings.

But how can a principle of such generality be applied to cases? In answering this question, I shall presuppose a distinction between a moral principle and its specifications.[9] To specify a moral principle is to particularize it in terms of morally relevant circumstances. If just war principles are to be applied to a case correctly, they have to be specified appropriately for that case that is, they have to be particularized in terms of morally relevant circumstances. To apply the just cause principle to a case correctly, there is a requirement of goal specificity -- namely, that the agent's goal in using military force has to be particularized in terms of morally relevant circumstances. The moral judgment that the specific goal is just derives from the moral judgment that the particular harms to be countered by the use of military force are sufficiently clear and serious.

The Last Resort Principle

Even when there is a just cause, it is not just to resort to the use of military force unless the other jus ad bellum principles are satisfied. Consider, for instance, the armed conflict within the Darfur region of the Sudan.[10] Hundreds of thousands of people have died there and millions have become refugees. Evidently, a just goal for armed humanitarian intervention is to stop this genocide. Indeed, there is a sufficiently clear and serious harm to the security of human beings. Nevertheless, it is not just to resort to armed humanitarian intervention to stop the genocide in Darfur unless the other jus ad bellum principles are satisfied -- for example, the principle of last resort.

The last resort principle requires that, before resorting to the use of military force, every reasonable alternative measure must be attempted -- for example, negotiating and implementing a peace agreement.[11] In May 2006, negotiations between rebel groups in Darfur and the Sudanese Government resulted in the signing of a peace agreement, the Darfur Peace Agreement. Unfortunately, only one of the rebel groups involved in the negotiations signed the Darfur Peace Agreement. And violent acts perpetrated by the Sudanese government, the Janjaweed, and the nonsignatory rebel groups have continued unabated. Nevertheless, by means of the last resort principle, it still can be argued that, before resorting to armed humanitarian intervention, a reasonable attempt should be made to stop the genocide in Darfur through the implementation of an effective peace agreement.[12]

Crucial to such an implementation is the deployment of a sufficiently robust armed UN peacekeeping mission. Let me illustrate how the last resort principle can be applied. Suppose that, after an armed UN peacekeeping mission is deployed in Darfur, armed conflict resumes -- for example, attacks by Janjaweed militiamen or Sudanese aircraft. Prior to the resort to a military operation by the armed UN peacekeeping mission to stop the renewed armed conflict, the following question should be answered. Are there reasonable alternative measures that could be attempted first? Drawing upon the ideas of moral presumption and burden of proof, it ought to be presumed that the armed UN peacekeeping mission is capable of stopping the renewed armed conflict by means of alternative measures. For instance, there is the burden of proving that it is not reasonable to attempt economic sanctions first. Also, there is the burden of proving that it is not reasonable to attempt coercive threats to use military force first -- for example, the threat of conducting a military operation. It is morally imperative to have such burdens of proof, so that military force is not used precipitously.

 

The Competent Authority Principle

There is another question that should be answered, one that is more fundamental. Is stopping the renewed armed conflict a just goal for the military operation? Presumably, stopping genocide is a just goal for armed humanitarian intervention, because the harm wreaked is so vast. In contrast, it might be unclear whether stopping the renewed armed conflict is a just goal for the military operation, if the harm wrought by the peace agreement spoilers is not very large. It should be evident, then, that there is a further question that should be answered, one of competent authority. Which agents have the authority to decide whether there is a just goal?

The competent authority principle requires that the decision to resort to the use of military force must be made by properly authorized agents. In signing the UN Charter, the 192 Members of the United Nations have bestowed on the Security Council the primary (legal) responsibility for maintaining peace and security among states and stopping extreme violations of fundamental human rights within states. Therefore, in partial answer to the question, my view is that the Security Council has the primary (moral) authority to decide whether there is a just goal for the use of military force. In particular, it has the primary authority to decide whether there is a just goal for a military operation by an armed UN peacekeeping mission.[13]

 

Just Mandates

What, then, are just goals for military operations by armed UN peacekeeping missions? In answering this question, I shall relate the moral requirement of goal specificity to the practical requisite of "clear and achievable mandates."[14] Let us consider again the case of Darfur. On 31 August 2006, the Security Council adopted a resolution authorizing the establishment of a UN peacekeeping mission in Darfur, the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS).[15] In this resolution, the Security Council "invites the consent" of the Sudanese Government, but this "invitation" has not yet been (sufficiently) accepted (as of January 7, 2007). In accordance with one of the three cardinal principles for armed UN peacekeeping missions -- namely, the coerced consent principle -- the Security Council ought to coerce the Sudanese Government to consent -- for example, by the credible threat of armed humanitarian intervention if the "invitation" is not accepted.

The mandate formulated in this resolution is multifaceted, but the two most relevant facets are these: "The Security Council [ . . . ] "Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations [ . . . ] Decides that UNMIS is authorized to use all necessary means [ . . . ] to prevent disruption of the implementation of the Darfur Peace Agreement by armed groups [and] to prevent attacks and threats against civilians."[16]

These two facets of the mandate are rather unspecific. Indeed, the following broad moral judgments can be made provisionally. A just goal for military operations by UNMIS is to prevent disruptions of the implementation of the peace agreement by armed groups. And another just goal for military operations by UNMIS is to prevent attacks and threats against civilians. Recalling the other two cardinal principles for armed UN peacekeeping missions, the former goal accords with the bounded impartiality principle, and the latter goal accords with the robust force principle. However, it is important to recognize that, if the just cause principle is to be applied to the case of Darfur correctly, there is need for greater specificity. To satisfy the requirement of goal specificity, the following questions have to be answered. What sorts of harms caused by disruptions of the peace agreement's implementation by armed groups are sufficiently clear and serious? What sorts of harms caused by attacks and threats against civilians are sufficiently clear and serious?

Within the framework of the UN Charter, the Security Council may delegate to the Secretary-General the responsibility for both establishing UN peacekeeping missions and exercising command and control of them.[17] In so doing, it may delegate to the Secretary-General the responsibility for making their mandates more specific. Just war principles morally constrain agents in organizations with hierarchies of subordination from using military force unjustly. In the proper authority principle, the term "properly authorized agents" includes not only the leaders of a hierarchical organization but also subordinate agents who are properly authorized by delegations of responsibility. According to the proper authority principle, the Security Council has the primary authority to decide whether there is a just cause for the use of military force, but the Secretary-General can have the mediate authority to decide whether there is a just cause. In general, although the Security Council has the primary authority to decide whether just war principles are satisfied in a particular case, the Secretary-General can have the mediate authority to decide whether they are satisfied. Just war principles morally constrain the Secretary-General from using military force unjustly.

Let me interpolate a qualification. Through an earlier peace agreement (i.e., the N'djamena Ceasefire Agreement of 8 April 2004), an ineffective African Union (AU) peacekeeping mission (AMIS) was deployed in Darfur. Recently, it has been proposed that, instead of deploying a UN peacekeeping mission in Darfur, a hybrid UN-AU peacekeeping mission should be deployed. Presumably, the Security Council would have the primary authority to decide how just war principles should govern a particular military operation by such a hybrid, but mediate authority might be distributed between the Secretary General and the African Union. Although I am focusing here on one sort of armed UN peacekeeping missions (i.e., those overseen by the Secretary-General), my discussion is generalizable to armed UN peacekeeping missions of other sorts (e.g., those managed by coalitions of willing states).

 

The Force Commander

Also, within the framework of the UN Charter, the Secretary-General may delegate command-and-control responsibility to the Force Commander of an armed UN peacekeeping mission.[18] In so doing, the Secretary-General may delegate to the Force Commander the responsibility for making the goals contained in the mandate even more specific. Whereas the Security Council has the primary authority to decide how they should govern a particular military operation, and the Secretary-General can have the mediate authority to decide how they should govern it, the Force Commander can have the proximate authority to decide how they should govern it. Just war principles also morally constrain the Force Commander from using military force unjustly.

Most fundamentally, the Force Commander can have the proximate authority to decide whether there is a just goal for a military operation. Especially in the face of an imminent threat of harm to the security of human beings, the Force Commander can immediately have the proximate authority to decide whether that harm is sufficiently clear and serious. If the proactive use of military force is to be effective, it has to be timely. For example, suppose that the (future) Force Commander of UNMIS in Darfur receives "real time intelligence"[19] of an imminent attack by a particular band of Janjaweed militiamen on a particular village.[20] The relevant facet of the indeterminate Security Council mandate for UNMIS -- namely, "to prevent attacks and threats against civilians" -- has to be specified. The Force Commander has to particularize it to the particular circumstances of this attack. In exercising command and control over a military operation by UNMIS against this particular attack, the Force Commander must answer the following questions. Is stopping this particular attack by this band of Janjaweed militiamen a just goal for this military operation? Under the particular circumstances of this attack, are the particular harms likely to be caused by the attack sufficiently clear and serious?

In answering these questions, the Force Commander is morally constrained by the just cause principle. In accordance with a limited war model, it is essential that the goal of the military operation should remain limited by UNMIS's mandate. The goal is not annihilation of all of the Janjaweed, or their unconditional surrender. Instead, the goal is to coerce this band of Janjaweed to cease their attack. Such uses of military force are a form of coercion, which ought to be coordinate with other forms of coercion -- for example, targeted economic sanctions and diplomatic "pressure."

Additionally, the Force Commander must answer a question of last resort. Under the particular circumstances of this attack, has every reasonable nonmilitary measure been attempted? Note that these alternative nonmilitary measures also have to be specified sufficiently -- for instance, particular targeted economic sanctions against particular Sudanese leaders. The Force Commander is also morally constrained by the principle of last resort.

 

Concluding Remarks

In a recent UN report, there is the following statement: "The biggest failures of the United Nations in civil violence have been in halting ethnic cleansing and genocide".[21] My view is that one main source of such failures has been the reluctance of the Security Council to effectively coerce parties engaged in ethnic cleansing and genocide to consent to the intercession of a sufficiently robust armed UN peacekeeping mission. In particular, to ensure that the intercession of an armed UN peacekeeping mission is sufficiently robust, a sufficiently robust mandate must be made acceptable to the conflicting parties, even if by coercion.

According to Basil Liddell Hart, the purpose of military strategy is "to diminish the possibility of resistance."[22] Fittingly, one of the maxims of his strategy of the indirect approach is: "Exploit the line of least resistance."[23] Let me indicate one way in which his maxim may be applied to cases of extreme violations of fundamental human rights within states. Instead of the frontal assault of an armed humanitarian intervention, sometimes the line of least resistance is the indirect approach of a coerced but consensual intercession by an armed UN peacekeeping mission.

 

 

NOTES



[1]. For a recent introduction to just war theory, see Brian Orend, The Morality of War (Peterborough, Ontario: Broadview Press, 2006).

[2]. I defend this presupposition in "Generalizing and Temporalizing Just War Principles: Illustrated by the Principle of Just Cause," forthcoming in Rethinking the Just War Tradition, ed. Michael Brough, John W. Lango, and Harry van der Linden (Albany, State University of New York Press, 2007).

[3]. For a discussion of the role of the ideas of moral presumption and burden of proof in just war theory, see James F. Childress, "Just-War Criteria," in his Moral Responsibility in Conflicts: Essays on Nonviolence, War, and Conscience (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1982), pp. 64-73.

[4]. Michael V. Bhatia, War and Intervention: Issues for Contemporary Peace Operations (Bloomfield, CT: Kumarian Press, 2003), p. 12.

[5]. For an account of the case of Rwanda, see Alison Des Forges, Leave None to Tell the Story: Genocide in Rwanda (New York and Paris: Human Rights Watch and International Federation of Human Rights, 1999).

[6]. Ibid., p. 133.

[7]. Such a claim is made in Use of Force in UN Peacekeeping Operations, Report of the IPA-UNDPKO [International Peace Academy-United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations] Workshop, Rapporteur: Kirsti Samuels (6 February 2004), pp. 7-8. Available at http://www.ipacademy.org/Events/February_4_2004.htm.

[8]. The phrase "sufficiently clear and serious" occurs in a recent UN report, in which it is proposed that, whenever the Security Council deliberates about "whether to authorize or endorse the use of military force", it should utilize "five basic criteria of legitimacy." The first criterion, entitled "Seriousness of threat," resembles the just cause principle: "Is the threatened harm to State or human security of a kind, and sufficiently clear and serious, to justify prima facie the use of military force?" See A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility, Report of the High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change (New York: United Nations, 2004), par. 207. Note the remark concerning the five basic criteria of legitimacy that "their ultimate intellectual origins lie in the whole tradition, and vast literature, of 'just war' theory" by Gareth Evans, "When is it right to fight? Legality, legitimacy and the use of military force", 2004 Cyril Foster Lecture, Oxford University (10 May 2004). Available at www.crisisgroup.org/home/index.cfm?id=2747&l=1. For precursors to the criteria, see the "principles for military intervention" in "The Responsibility to Protect", Report of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (Ottawa: International Development Research Centre, 2001), pp. xii-xiii.

[9]. Concerning the idea of specification, see Tom L. Beauchamp and James F. Childress, Principles of Biomedical Ethics, 5th ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001).

[10]. For details about this case, see the following reports by the International Crisis Group: "A New Sudan Action Plan", Africa Briefing No. 24 (Nairobi/Brussels, 26 April 2005); "To Save Darfur", Africa Report No. 105 (Nairobi/Brussels, 17 March 2006); "Darfur's Fragile Peace Agreement", Africa Briefing No. 32 (Nairobi/Brussels, 20 June 2006); and "Getting the UN into Darfur", Africa Briefing No. 43 (Nairobi/Brussels, 12 October 2006). Available at www.crisisgroup.org.

[11]. I discuss the last resort principle in "The Just War Principle of Last Resort: The Question of Reasonableness Standards," Asteriskos: Journal of International and Peace Studies 1:1-2 (2006): 7-23. Portions of earlier drafts of that article were presented at JSCOPE 2006 and at the "Ethics and Africa" Conference, University of Cape Town (May 2006).

[12]. For an argument that a last resort criterion has not yet been satisfied in the case of Darfur, including a discussion of various alternative measures, see International Crisis Group, "Getting the UN into Darfur", Africa Briefing No. 43 (Nairobi/Brussels, 12 October 2006), pp. 7-15.

[13]. For an argument that, in catastrophic cases where the Security Council fails to exercise this primary authority, it could be justifiable, even if illegal, for other agents to use military force, see Thomas M. Franck, Recourse to Force: State Action Against Threats and Armed Attacks (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), ch. 10. Such an argument might extend to armed peacekeeping missions by other agents.

[14]. John Terence O'Neill and Nicholas Rees, United Nations Peacekeeping in the Post-Cold War Era (London and New York: Routledge, 2005), p. 194.

[15]. Security Council Resolution 1706 (2006). More precisely, in Security Council Resolution 1590 (2005), the Security Council authorized the establishment of UNMIS in Southern Sudan. In Security Council Resolution 1706 (2006), it expanded the mandate of UNMIS to include Darfur.

[16]. Security Council Resolution 1706 (2006).

[17]. See Danesh Sarooshi, The United Nations and the Development of Collective Security: The Delegation by the UN Security Council of its Chapter VII Powers (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1999).

[18]. Ibid., p. 70.

 

[19]. International Crisis Group, "Darfur's Fragile Peace Agreement", Africa Briefing No. 32 (Nairobi/Brussels, 20 June 2006), p. 25.

[20]. I discuss the relevance of intelligence work for UN peacekeeping missions in "Collective Security and the Goals of Intelligence", Defense Intelligence Journal 15:3 (Winter, 2006).

[21]. A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility, Report of the High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change (New York: United Nations, 2004), par. 87.

[22]. B. H. Liddell Hart, Strategy, Second Revised Edition (New York: Praeger, 1967), p. 337 (italics removed).

[23]. Ibid., p. 348 (italics removed).