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Free «Humanitarian Intervention in Action» Essay Sample

Humanitarian intervention in Kosovo arises many questions and concerns. The main issues concern legality of interventions and the use of force in Kosovo region.  The fact that modern international systems for humanitarian and management are selective, predicated not on human costs but on political calculations, is neither a theoretical nor a policy problem but a profound moral problem. As long as this remains unchallenged, the prospects of preventing future variants of the Kosovo conflict remain unchanged. Thus, for the international community, the Kosovo conflict stands not only as a moral black mark for past failings but also as an omnipresent reminder of a continuing failure to address the underlying international structures that made it possible. It is therefore incumbent on those concerned with the humanitarian dimensions of international politics to use that reminder as a spur to theoretical, organizational, and, most critically, political reform. Far more troubling than either of these two challenges is the third issue: the selectivity of our international systems for conflict management and peacemaking.

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Since June 1999, the UN established its administration in Kosovo. the Kosovo case stands, first, as a cautionary tale about the limits of existing international systems for successfully mounting third-party conflict resolution efforts or, more broadly, for conflict management in the face of small-scale civil wars. It stands, second, as an argument for systematic reform of the international system for managing third-party interventions. In theoretical and practical work to strengthen international conflict resolution systems, much more attention must be paid to the impact of various peacemaking strategies on the internal dynamics of conflict, especially to the ways in which different international efforts connect with one another, creating an overall impact (Glenny 54). The absence of strong policies or processes for ensuring coherence of peacemaking initiatives leaves such efforts open to easy manipulation by opponents. The theoretical deficit of attention to such issues can be rectified by new research agendas. These agendas should focus on comparative analysis of the dynamics of civil war, set against a backdrop of complex international conflict resolution systems. They should also probe more deeply into the question of complexity and coordination-identifying in more detailed terms the sources of complexity, the obstacles to coordination, and the impact of incoherence on the effectiveness of conflict resolution efforts. Unlike much contemporary theory, new research should link analysis of the recurrent dynamics of civil war to rich understandings of the dynamics of conflict resolution processes. It is in the interaction between the challenge and the response that salient lessons for improved practice will emerge (Judah, 23).

 
 
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The UN administration and military control raised political and ethical questions about the viability and desirability of providing relief in conflict situations. Kosovo supports the unintended-consequences thesis; simultaneously, it shows that consequences arise because of failures in the political response. Specifically, Kosovo shows that the actual cause of unintended consequences is the security vacuum created by the unwillingness of the international community to tackle the political and security elements of the wider crisis in which humanitarian aid is given (Perritt 72). It is also clear that the political and security responses to the crisis in Kosovo were wholly insufficient in the face of events on the ground the Kosovo case stands, first, as a cautionary tale about the limits of existing international systems for successfully mounting third-party conflict resolution efforts or, more broadly, for conflict management in the face of small-scale civil wars. It stands, second, as an argument for systematic reform of the international system for managing third-party interventions. In theoretical and practical work to strengthen international conflict resolution systems, much more attention must be paid to the impact of various peacemaking strategies on the internal dynamics of conflict, especially to the ways in which different international efforts connect with one another, creating an overall impact. The absence of strong policies or processes for ensuring coherence of peacemaking initiatives leaves such efforts open to easy manipulation by opponents. The theoretical deficit of attention to such issues can be rectified by new research agendas. These agendas should focus on comparative analysis of the dynamics of civil war, set against a backdrop of complex international conflict resolution systems. They should also probe more deeply into the question of complexity and coordination-identifying in more detailed terms the sources of complexity, the obstacles to coordination, and the impact of incoherence on the effectiveness of conflict resolution efforts. Unlike much contemporary theory, new research should link analysis of the recurrent dynamics of civil war to rich understandings of the dynamics of conflict resolution processes. It is in the interaction between the challenge and the response that salient lessons for improved practice will emerge (Glenny 92).

 
 
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In reality, however, the peacemaking process in Kosovo was no match for the more focused, more brutal strategy of its opponents. A core of brutal individuals handily overcame sustained and wide-ranging international peace efforts, a damning indictment of our current international systems for conflict management. The humanitarian response preceded the launch of the genocide. International and local aid agencies, present in Kosovo for development purposes, began to respond to humanitarian needs during the later part of the civil war (Perritt 71). This UN Humanitarian Team distributed several planeloads of food to the population of Kosovo, sometimes with UN protection, sometimes relying on their negotiation skills to navigate the dozens of roadblocks and always at considerable personal risk The courage of the NGO and UN staff who remained in Kosovo during this period has gone largely unmentioned but was unparalleled in the entire international response to Kosovo. UN called it the largest-ever movement of refugees; it was shortly to be dwarfed. In the meantime, the international aid community began mounting a second major. Apart from the sheer scale of the need, the logistical problems of getting adequate relief supplies across execrable roads proved challenging. However, the same evaluation discovered that lapses in coordination also cost lives and wasted resources, as duplication of effort, inappropriate responses, and other forms of inefficiency weakened the overall effort. The United Nations had a de facto lead agency, the UN, but its authority extended primarily to those NGOs that relied on the United Nations for funding or that routinely worked with the United Nations in crisis situations (Glenny 34).

And, indeed, humanitarian relief did affect an important Kosovo dynamic, one that should have been addressed by political and security actors: the ability of the genocide forces to recuperate and resuscitate, inside Kosovo, and thereby to pose a continuing threat to Kosovo. Concern over the situation eventually led to consideration in the Security Council of the innovative idea of sending a peacekeeping operation to the refugee camps. Even those who were not killed during the genocide suffered. Fully half of all surviving citizens were displaced from their homes by he war and genocide, many of them repeatedly. In fact, however, the humanitarian effort was wide-ranging, compassionate, in parts sophisticated, in moments courageous, yet deeply flawed and ultimately part of the problem (primarily because of the continued failings of political response by the Security Council) (Perritt 88). If the presence of hard-line and extremist opponents of peace was a central feature of the conflict, this reality was not reflected in third-party peacemaking initiatives. There were some efforts to contain the threat, but they were limited, inconsistent, and incoherent (Glenny 54). The peacemaking process was never informed by an overall strategy for tackling extremism or extremists. The UN efforts focused on diffusing the influence of hard-liners by widening the range of interlocutors, specifically by bringing opposition groups into government. In the mediation phase, the strategy of international actors was based on inclusion, that is, buying off extremists by bringing them into the fold. The strategy failed, first because the room for maneuver had already been restricted by strategies employed during the peacekeeping phase, and then because the military at a decisive moment in Kosovo proved intransigent on the question. The UN position stemmed from battlefield victories and the extremists' rhetoric. That fact that the resulting deal failed to include extremists was complicating but possibly manageable; the fact that it marginalized more moderate forces in the regime proved disastrous. The evidence suggests that the outcome of the conflict resolution process is not ascribable to any single third-party effort. Rather, it was the weakness of the collective effort that hamstrung the peace efforts (Perritt 11).

The mechanisms they used included taking political control of the relief process in the camps, continuing the campaign of rhetoric and intimidation to stop the population from returning to Kosovo (despite various exhortations to do so), and forging alliances with local actors who could assist them politically and militarily. Tragically, humanitarian assistance in the civil war period was in fact one of the most significant dimensions of international engagement in the conflict. It doubtless saved tens of thousands of lives, and it was well intentioned. Still, its effects were not all salutary. In the political vacuum created by non-responses to the underlying security situation, humanitarian assistance in fact transformed the structure of the conflict at a critical juncture. The delivery of international aid provided means and method to Kosovo's extremist political structure to reinforce its strength and reengage its opponents. The idea that aid can have a conflict-transformation dimension has gained increasing currency in recent years. The process of providing relief in conflict, it has been argued, produces a series of unintended consequences, of inescapable dilemmas from which no clean outcomes are available. Although the Security Council in its deliberations had determined the presence of former army and militia members in the camps as a threat to international peace and security, members were unwilling to act to neutralize the threat these people posed both to the refugees and aid workers and, more important, to the long-term security and stability of the region.

   

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