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Mandates matter: an exploration of impartiality in united nations operations.

The idea of UN impartiality has long been assumed as a characteristic of certain UN military operations but has never been explored. I argue that the impartiality of a UN mandate needs to be considered separately from the impartiality of the implementation of that mandate. Such a separation reveals that maintaining an overall framework of impartiality in UN operations is critically dependent on the nature of the mandate. An analysis of UN operations on this basis reveals that Security Council mandates for UN military operations whose tasks extend beyond the observance of agreements made by the parties to the conflict are not impartial. Often, however, these mandates are crafted within an overall approach that is said to be impartial, thus creating an inherent contradiction that has the potential to undermine the operation as a whole. KEYWORDS: United Nations, Security Council, impartiality, peace enforcement, peacekeeping.


The nature and scale of the United Nations Security Council forays into the conflicts of the early post-Cold War period took the organization into uncharted territory, sometimes with devastating results. These experiences prompted considerable discussion about the merits of the UN approach. New subfields of study emerged on humanitarian intervention, on the use of force, and on the multidimensionality of UN operations. Much of the resulting debate was centered on the implications of these changes for developing international norms and practice and for determining the lessons learned for future action. Amid this discussion little attention has been given to a characteristic that has long been considered a foundation of most UN operations--impartiality. The idea of impartiality is so much a given in the study of UN operations that it is listed consistently as a vital aspect of the UN's character, but it is rarely discussed and even more rarely defined. (1)

The purpose of this article is to explore the concept of impartiality as it applies to UN operations with Security Council mandates. The focus here is specifically on the impartiality of UN operations as opposed to the impartiality of the structure of the organization, its decisionmaking bodies, or the impartiality of the organization as a whole. I propose that in order to understand how impartiality works in UN operations, we must disaggregate the concept and consider the impartiality of a Security Council mandate separately from the impartiality of the implementation of that mandate. I then use this analytic framework to discuss the inherent risks and advantages in UN impartiality and the implications for how Security Council mandates are conceived.

The first section of the article outlines the origins of the idea that the UN can and should be impartial in certain situations. The second section then focuses on the disaggregation of the concept, explaining how and why this disaggregation provides for a clearer understanding of how impartiality works. In light of this analysis, the third section then discusses the desirability and achievability of impartiality in UN operations, suggesting that the use of the impartiality framework in Security Council mandates that go beyond traditional peacekeeping is rarely achievable or desirable.

The Origins of UN Impartiality

An examination of UN impartiality must begin by asking whether impartiality is even possible for the UN. After all, the UN is a political organization with overtly political goals--the maintenance of international peace and security, for one--that suggest a need to take "partial" positions in situations that threaten international peace and security. Is it ever possible, then, for the UN to take impartial action in a given situation?

The idea that the UN could act impartially is found in Article 40 of Chapter VII of the UN Charter. The article provides that "in order to prevent an aggravation of the situation, the Security Council may ... call upon the parties concerned to comply with such provisional measures as it deems necessary or desirable. Such provisional measures shall be without prejudice to the rights, claims, or position of the parties concerned." The article is the product of a Chinese proposal at the San Francisco negotiations. (2) Prompted by its own experience in Manchuria under the League of Nations, China believed that the Security Council should have the ability to halt a situation before it deteriorated beyond an ability to restore it to the status quo ante, without having to wait for agreement on broader measures. Because action, and possibly judgment, on the situation is pending, the interim measures taken by the Security Council need to be "without prejudice" to the positions of the parties. As with much of Chapter VII of the charter, the Security Council stalemate produced by the Cold War meant that its use of Article 40 was limited. Although many Security Council actions can be categorized as falling within the parameters of Article 40, its provisions have rarely been formally invoked in Security Council resolutions. (3)

The idea of UN impartiality really took root with the creation of peacekeeping in response to the Suez crisis in 1956. With the Security Council unable to act because of the involvement of permanent members, the secretary-general, along with key member states, developed the idea of peacekeeping as a way of intervening to stabilize the situation. The concept of peacekeeping was based on three interrelated tenets: the consent of the parties in question; the use of force only in self-defense; and the impartiality of the operation. The speed of the development and implementation of the concept meant that the exact definition of impartiality was not initially made explicit, although the requirement that no states with interests in the conflict would be part of the operation, and the limitation of the mandate to overseeing the agreed cease-fire, gave a sense of the implied meaning of impartiality in that context.

Writing two years after the successful implementation of the resulting UN Emergency Force (UNEF), Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold outlined the principles involved in greater detail. In a report to the General Assembly, he indicated that the operation had "no intent ... to influence the military balance in the present conflict and thereby the political balance affecting the efforts to settle the conflict." Nor was the force to be used "so as to prejudge the solution of the controversial questions involved." (4) Hammarskjold's explication of these characteristics falls neatly within the "without prejudice" concept contained in Article 40. However, Article 40 was not cited, because the sense that peacekeeping should not be considered an enforcement operation generated a desire to avoid an invocation of Chapter VII.

The largely successful implementation of peacekeeping during the Cold War worked to consolidate a sense that impartiality was both possible and desirable. The nature of these "traditional" peacekeeping operations, however, obscured the need for a more nuanced understanding of how impartiality works. Two factors contributed to a lack of questioning of the impartial aspect of the peacekeeping concept. First, because peacekeeping generally worked as planned, the UN was not forced by failure to question whether impartiality was a factor in that failure. The second factor relates to the very nature of the operations. Because these operations required the consent of the parties involved and tended to be in response to cease-fire or peace agreements already well in place, the question of separating the impartiality of the mandate from its implementation rarely arose. Traditional peacekeeping operations tended to be the product of mandates that did not stray beyond the observance and maintenance of those agreements. As a consequence, they tended to be impartial mandates. This assumption is explored more fully in the discussion that follows.

Disaggregating Impartiality

The question of whether or not the UN is acting impartially in a given situation must derive from an understanding of how impartiality applies to UN operations. To the extent that the question of UN impartiality is discussed in the literature, the discussion generally talks of impartiality as a blanket characteristic, without determining to which aspect of UN activity this judgment applies.

When responding to conflict situations, UN action takes a variety of forms, and as with decisionmaking at the national level, activity occurs at a number of levels. The UN Charter establishes the decisionmaking structure for the organization. The political decisionmakers (the Security Council) determine that action is required, and they establish a set of objectives for an operation (the mandate). Those objectives are then pursued by military means (the operation).

A determination of impartiality depends on whether impartiality exists both within the mandate and at the operational level (how the mandate is implemented). A violation of impartiality at either level affects impartiality overall.

The Impartiality of Mandates

How do we determine the impartiality of a mandate? The Oxford English Dictionary defines impartial as "not partial; not favouring one party or side more than another; unprejudiced, unbiased, fair, just, equitable." (5) This definition corresponds well with the provisions of Article 40 of the charter. Both generate the same sense of decisions that should be "without prejudice" and not favoring one side or another. On this basis, in the context of international peace and security situations to which the Security Council chooses to respond, this means that any Security Council action or decision that affects one of the parties to the conflict, in either a positive or negative way, strays from impartiality.

At first glance, therefore, it appears relatively straightforward to divide UN mandates into two categories: impartial and partial. However, it is the inevitable gray zone between these two categories that raises difficulties. If we use the criteria just outlined for determining the impartiality of Security Council mandates, the clearly impartial category consists of those mandates whose purpose is to authorize the monitoring of peace agreements or agreed cease-fires. Such mandates are impartial, because all that they do is commit the UN to overseeing terms or arrangements already agreed by the parties. The Security Council makes no determination of the nature of those terms, nor does it take any action that will alter them. By not engaging in any political decisionmaking about the conflict itself, or the terms of the agreement, the Security Council has created an impartial mandate in the sense of acting without prejudice or favor to one side or the other. In addition to traditional Cold War peacekeeping mandates, this category includes a number of post-Cold War operations, such as those undertaken in Namibia and Cambodia, as well as those in which the Security Council contracts out the overseeing of the operation, as is the case in the UN-approved NATO-run operation in Bosnia to oversee the Dayton Peace Agreement (SFOR).

There is also room for impartial Security Council mandates not based on agreements, although this is quite limited. For example, a strictly humanitarian mandate might qualify as impartial in certain situations. The closest example of this situation is the Security Council authorization of the Unified Task Force (UNITAF) operation in Somalia. The objectives of the mandate were the creation of a secure environment to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid. The mandate did not extend any further than those humanitarian goals. (6) As a consequence, the mandate can be said to have been without prejudice to the parties to the conflict and was therefore impartial.

At the other end of the spectrum are the clearly partial mandates. These mandates establish political objectives that take a clear position on the situation in question. For example, the UN operation in Korea in the early 1950s and the one in the Persian Gulf in 1991 were both directed to redress a violation of the charter by altering the situation on the ground and were directed against specific states. They established political objectives and were clearly partial in their approach.

Between these two ends of the spectrum there lies a middle area of "gray zone" mandates in which the Security Council has combined impartial and partial elements. It is this gray zone that has been the source of the most problematic UN operations. These mandates either begin as impartial mandates and are then altered, bringing their impartiality into question, or the Security Council intervenes in situations where there is no cease-fire or peace agreement on which to base the mandate and/or where the consent of the parties is partial or tenuous. Any decisions for action it makes in that context have the potential to influence the position of one or more of the parties and are therefore not impartial.

For example, in Bosnia, the initial Security Council mandate was for a peacekeeping operation, even though the Council recognized that the conditions for peacekeeping were not in place. (7) The UN operation in Bosnia (UNPROFOR) was originally intended to act as a stabilizing presence and to oversee a cease-fire (which rarely existed), but the Security Council quickly turned its focus to dealing with the humanitarian aspects of the conflict. Throughout the conflict, during which the Security Council passed more than seventy resolutions, the Council deliberately steered clear of taking a position on the conflict (aside from calling for its end) and avoided an authorization of the use of force that might take it into a full-scale Chapter VII situation, thereby ending its "impartiality." (8) Instead, the Security Council focused on the humanitarian consequences of the conflict, prompting it to authorize the creation of a no-fly zone to avoid humanitarian aid flights being used as cover for air attacks and of six "safe areas" to protect populations under siege. To the extent the use of force beyond self-defense was authorized, it was toward those ends. Although the focus on the humanitarian effects of the conflict and the limitation of the use of force to compelling compliance with the mandate gave the appearance of impartiality (or at least some grounds on which to claim impartiality), in practice the effect of the mandate was far from impartial. Indeed, because there was never any kind of agreement among the warring parties on which the Council could find purchase for its mandate, each decision the Council took risked creating a differential impact that violated the "without prejudice," not favoring one side or the other, impartiality rule. In seeking to deal with the humanitarian aspects of the conflict, for example, the Council was effectively supporting the Bosnian Muslim population against Bosnian Serb aggression. (9) And the establishment of a no-fly zone was a measure taken primarily to curb the abilities of Bosnian Serbs--the only group with a military aerial capability--to operate by air within Bosnia, even though the Security Council resolution itself did not single out any party. (10)

When intervening in the crisis in the Congo in the early 1960s, the Security Council faced similar dilemmas. Two days after the achievement of independence, clashes among different groups prompted a descent into widespread disorder, accompanied by attacks on Belgian and other European citizens. The initial mandate for the UN operation was to oversee the withdrawal of Belgian troops and to restore law and order. (11) When the Congolese government collapsed later that year, the UN found itself in an extremely awkward situation. Deployed in a country in the midst of a civil war, now without a government, every move the UN made inevitably, if inadvertently, favored one group or the other. The secretary-general and the Security Council worked hard to maintain an impartial approach to the conflict, emphasizing that they would make no decisions that would influence the eventual outcome. (12) Nevertheless, each decision the UN took (especially the determination not to accept the secession of Katanga), albeit in pursuit of the need to restore law and order and to prevent civil war as the mandate directed, had an impact on one or more of the parties struggling for control. This point was not lost on troop-contributing member states, some of which pulled their troops out of the operation in protest. The Congo operation remains one of the most contentious and damaging UN operations to date, and its side and after effects (including the death of Secretary-General Hammarskjold in a plane crash) haunted the organization for years afterwards.

Impartiality in Mandate Implementation

There is an inextricable connection between the impartiality of the mandate and its implementation. The implementation process is a direct product of the nature of the mandate. If a mandate is partial in its conception, its implementation on the ground will reflect that. When problems arise on the ground, it is often the case that they become the focus of attention--the use of force, for example, is often seized on as undermining impartiality--when in fact the source of the problem is in the nature of the mandate. However, the implementation process must be considered separately from the mandate itself, for two reasons--first, because it is a separate process (those undertaking the implementation of the mandate do not participate in the decisionmaking process determining the nature of the mandate); and second, because it is possible that the implementation process may itself undermine impartiality.

Military actions undertaken in the course of the implementation of the mandate might in and of themselves violate the impartiality of the mandate. The impartiality of the implementation process may be undermined, for example, by the actions of the military on the ground in contravention of the mandate or with the intent to favor one of the parties to the conflict. The desire to minimize this possibility was behind the Cold War practice of limiting participation in peacekeeping operations to member states without any connection to the parties to the conflict. (13) Similarly, a traditional concern about the involvement of regional organizations in undertaking Security Council mandates relates to their ability to act impartially. Because they are of the region in which the conflict is occurring, the involvement of regional organizations raises the possibility that they, or one or more of their members, may consciously or unconsciously work to favor a specific outcome or one of the parties to the conflict in question.

The UN intervention in Somalia in the early 1990s created problems at both the mandate and implementation levels. After the U.S.-led operation to establish a secure environment for the delivery of humanitarian aid (UNITAF), the Security Council authorized the creation of the UN Operation in Somalia (UNOSOM II) to take over when UNITAF left. The mandate for the operation included peacebuilding tasks, such as political reconciliation, economic rehabilitation, the establishment of a police force, and the repatriation of refugees. Along with these tasks, the Security Council authorized a series of military tasks, such as preventing the resumption of violence, controlling heavy weapons, seizing small arms, and maintaining security. (14) The ongoing conflict prompted the Security Council to give the mandate enforcement authorization under Chapter VII of the charter. The UNOSOM II mandate was unusual in that it was not based on a peace agreement or another preexisting agreement among the parties as to the way forward. Just as it had done in the Congo thirty years earlier, the Security Council placed itself in a situation where there was no formal government and no agreement to end the fighting. The mandate for UNOSOM II was arguably impartial in that the terms applied to all of the parties in Somalia. But with ongoing fighting and a political vacuum, any move the UN made had a potential impact on the position of one or the other of the parties.

Within the first few weeks of the transition from UNITAF to UNOSOM II, two attacks on Pakistani UN soldiers undertaking disarmament tasks resulted in the death of twenty-four soldiers. The day after the attack, the Security Council unanimously passed a resolution condemning the attacks, reaffirming the secretary-general's authorization to use "all necessary measures" against "those responsible," and asked the secretary-general to report on which faction leaders were responsible. (15) Although no party was named in the resolution, it was understood that those responsible were the rebel group run by Mohammad Farah Aidid. The addition of the arrest mandate to the UN's existing mandate in Somalia compromised the overall mandate's impartiality by directing action against a particular party in the conflict. The situation was further complicated by the fact that the pursuit of Aidid was undertaken by U.S. troops working outside the UN operation, not UN troops. For those on the ground, the distinction between U.S. troops and UN troops, the former using force to pursue Aidid and the latter now increasingly using force in an effort to implement the disarmament mandate, was difficult to maintain. In the absence of a political agreement to which all of this could be related, it appeared to many inside and outside Somalia that U.S. and UN troops together were using military means to establish and achieve their own political objectives. At the time, considerable attention was focused on the upsurge in the use of force and the argument that the increasing use of force undermined the UN's impartiality. In fact, it was the mandate itself that undermined impartiality. The implementation of the mandate brought the problem to the forefront.

The Somalia example raises the question of the relationship between impartiality and the use of force. If this analytical framework is valid, it means that the use of force by the UN is, in theory, able to occur impartially in pursuit of impartial mandates because it is related to the implementation side of the equation and thus is simply occurring in fulfilment of an impartial mandate. On this basis, we can say that there is no inherent incompatibility between impartiality and the use of force. By its nature, however, the use of force is problematic, regardless of whether it is occurring in pursuit of an impartial mandate. Any use of force beyond self-defense becomes effectively offensive in nature. In the end, force is used against someone--some group or party involved in the conflict--thereby violating, or at an absolute minimum, threatening impartiality in the sense of being without prejudice to the parties.

In sum, a violation of impartiality can happen at a variety of points in a UN operation, but the starting point must always be the mandate. If the mandate is effectively partial with respect to its impact on the parties, the game is up before it has even begun, although, as discussed below, it is feasible that in very specific situations this may not prove to be a fatal flaw. In situations where a mandate is impartial, a violation of impartiality may occur in the implementation process.

The Achievability and Desirability of Impartiality

This analysis raises significant questions about the viability of mandates that fall within the gray zone. Is impartiality achievable in gray zone situations? And, if so, is impartiality even desirable in those situations?

At first glance, the answer as to whether impartiality is achievable in these situations appears to be that it is not. It is difficult to imagine how any intervention by the UN in situations in which conflict is ongoing (16) does not affect one or another of the parties. However, experience suggests that there is some room for maneuver in this assessment relating to the scale of the prejudice caused to the positions of the parties in question. For example, a UN mandate that seeks to provide humanitarian assistance in certain conflict zones may not definitively alter the position of one or all of the parties to the conflict. As such, it may not fundamentally undermine the UN's attempt to maintain an impartial position in the conflict. And, if the intervention is part of a process in which the conflict ultimately does come to an end, the issue of whether the UN was truly impartial becomes moot. Such examples are the exception rather than the rule, and even in these very limited cases, the argument is not that the UN mandate is impartial but that the limited impact on the situation means that the lack of impartiality is not critical to overall success and is easily overlooked.

Any measures beyond these limited circumstances generate problems. The creation of safe areas in Bosnia, for example, and the refusal to accept the secession of Katanga in the Congo, definitely affected the position of major parties to the conflicts. Yet both were carried out under the auspices of UN impartiality. This is the inherent problem that disaggregating the concept of impartiality reveals. Saying the UN is behaving impartially does not make it so. Security Council claims to impartiality are just that--claims. Here we run into the difficult distinction between motive and consequence. The Security Council's motives with respect to a given conflict may be impartial, but the consequences of the mandates it authorizes may not be. This contradiction goes to the heart of the situations that have created such difficult problems for the UN. Maintaining impartiality, or maintaining a claim to impartiality, in the face of effects on the ground that belie that stance puts the organization in a particularly self-destructive situation and may contribute to the prolongation of the conflict and greater suffering. We need look no further than UN experiences in the Congo in the 1960s and in Bosnia and Somalia in the 1990s for evidence of this. For those on the receiving end, it is the actual situation on the ground that matters. Whatever the intent of the implementation, if the outcome is "partial," the fact that it may have been impartially generated is beside the point.

This raises the second question: even if we can argue that in certain highly circumscribed circumstances some form of impartiality is achievable, is it desirable? Impartiality clearly has a significant role in the work of the UN. The long list of peacekeeping successes is testament to the importance and value of peacekeeping and, by extension, impartiality. A good deal of the credibility and moral weight the UN brings to conflict situations can be attributed to this history. However, the case for impartiality is not so clearly made in the gray zone situations. The main argument in favor of impartiality in these instances is that the operation in question may provide a way to stabilize a situation and provide some breathing space in which the parties to the conflict can negotiate an end to the conflict. It also provides a way in which the UN can intervene to provide emergency humanitarian assistance to victims of the conflict. Both are valuable goals. A belief in the UN's impartiality is critical to achieving them. That belief in UN impartiality is completely dependent on a level of credibility derived from UN behavior in the past and the integrity and commitment with which the goals associated with impartiality are carried out. Impartiality does not just happen. It must be achieved through hard work on the part of the UN and the willingness and wherewithal on the part of the warring parties to engage in the process in good faith. The problem revealed here is that overreaching impartiality by establishing partial mandates within an overarching approach that claims to be impartial creates a fundamental contradiction whose consequences may undermine the Security Council's credibility and moral weight in all situations, not just the conflict at hand.

Although the UN has the ability to slide over the existence of partiality in mandates in certain circumstances, those circumstances are quite limited and are highly dependent on a context that quickly generates a positive outcome. When that does not happen, the UN has put itself in a very difficult situation that carries with it the potential for negative outcomes. The desirability of impartiality in gray zone situations is therefore very limited.


A disaggregation of the concept of impartiality suggests the following conclusions. First, the UN can be assured of mandate impartiality only in situations in which the mandate authorizes oversight of a firm agreement by the parties to the conflict and where consent for UN involvement is unimpeachable. Even these situations are open to change--the agreement may fail or consent may disappear--but if the UN mandate is limited to overseeing terms agreed to by the parties to a conflict and the UN itself does not take a political stand on the nature and outcome of the conflict, the resultant mandate is correspondingly impartial. If and when the situation changes, the Security Council not only needs to consider taking alternative approaches but also ending its impartial approach. This does not necessarily imply a shift to more dramatic measures, such as full-scale enforcement, but it does mean that the Security Council should be clear within itself and with the parties to the conflict that its response to the conflict can no longer be considered as being "without prejudice" to all of the parties.

Second, this analysis is ultimately an argument for being definitive about impartiality in Security Council mandates. It is also a call for greater care and nuance in crafting Security Council mandates. UN mandates authorizing measures that extend beyond anything agreed by the parties are not impartial mandates and should not be treated as such. In certain limited circumstances, the UN may be able to get away with claiming otherwise, but the risks of failure are high. The experience of the UN operations in the Congo in the 1960s, and in Bosnia and in Somalia in the early 1990s, provides strong evidence that the consequences of failure are significant for both the UN as well as for those it is seeking to assist.

As stated at the outset, the UN is a political actor with political goals, namely the protection and maintenance of international peace and security. In conflict situations in which there is no peace agreement or full consent for UN involvement, these goals put the organization at odds with at least one of the parties to the conflict. In these cases, any action the UN takes may effectively prejudice the position of one or more of the parties to the conflict. A freezing of the situation through a cease-fire, for example, will negatively affect a party that might gain more militarily than it would through political negotiations carried out at that point. This is the dilemma Richard Betts raised in his article "The Delusion of Impartial Intervention." Betts argues that remaining impartial creates a situation that "usually blocks peace by doing enough to keep either belligerent from defeating the other, but not enough to make them stop trying." (17)

This last argument raises an unhappy point relating to the motivation behind an impartial approach. In some situations, impartiality may be used by the Security Council as a shield to cover inaction or to avoid greater action. The UN Security Council wants the conflict to end but does not want to involve itself in determining how it should end, so it chooses to take the impartial option to avoid making a judgment. The most egregious examples of this occurred in Bosnia and Rwanda, where the UN Security Council maintained its impartial stance regarding the conflicts even in the face of ethnic cleansing and genocide. Secretary-General Kofi Annan recognized the terrible betrayal inherent in these actions in his report on Srebrenica when he stated that errors of judgment "rooted in a philosophy of impartiality" were made. (18)

There are several good reasons for the Security Council to avoid imposing its views on situations in which a peace process is nascent or is moving to completion. Nonetheless, the Security Council is ultimately responsible for maintaining international peace and security. There are situations in which impartial mandates either represent an avoidance of that responsibility or may ultimately undermine that goal.

None of this is necessarily to argue that the Security Council should take less action, that we should return to traditional peacekeeping only, or that we should place less importance on impartiality. Impartiality clearly plays a vital role for the UN. And that is ultimately the critical point. Impartiality is a valuable asset, but as with any asset it is subject to deterioration if improperly used. Employed properly it carries tremendous power and has the potential to contribute a great deal to the UN's objectives. A greater understanding of its role, when and where it can be most useful, should strengthen the Council's ability to design acheivable mandates. Employing impartiality as a way to avoid taking more effective action rather than because it is the correct approach will ultimately diminish its power and that of the UN.


1. There are a few exceptions: Adam Roberts, "The Crisis in UN Peace-keeping," Survival 36, no. 3 (autumn 1994): 93-120; Marrack Goulding, "The Evolution of United Nations Peace-keeping," International Affairs 69, no. 3 (1993): 451-464: and Richard K. Betts, "The Delusion of Impartial Intervention," Foreign Affairs 73, no. 6 (November-December 1994): 20-33.

2. Ruth B. Russell, A History of the United Nations Charter (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution, 1958), pp. 675-676.

3. A good summary can be found in Leland Goodrich, Edvard Hambro, and Anne Patricia Simons, Charter of the United Nations: Commentary and Document (New York: Columbia University Press, 1969), pp. 302-310.

4. Study of the UNEF Experience, Report of the Secretary-General, A/3943 (9 October 1958), par. 12.

5. Oxford English Dictionary, 2d ed., 1989, available online at By contrast, the definition of neutral is "not taking sides in a controversy, dispute, disagreement, etc.; ... in relation to war or armed conflict, ... remaining inactive in relations to belligerent powers." There is, therefore, an assumption of response or activity inherent in impartiality that is not necessarily present in neutrality.

6. This was in spite of efforts by the secretary-general to convince the leaders of the mission, the United States, that the creation of a "secure environment" required a full disarming of the armed groups in Mogadishu.

7. The Security Council agreed with the secretary-general's initial recommendation to authorize a peacekeeping force in the absence of the conditions for peacekeeping on the basis that the dangers associated with a failure of the mission were "less grievous" than the dangers of continued fighting in its absence. UN Doc. S/23592 (15 February 1992).

8. See Jane Boulden, Peace Enforcement (Westport, Conn: Praeger, 2001).

9. This was not always the case. In other situations, the support and requirement for humanitarian assistance acted in favor of other population groups. The overall point is that, by and large, humanitarian aid in a conflict situation will influence the position of one of the parties to the conflict.

10. Security Council Res. 781 (9 October 1992).

11. Security Council Res. 143 (14 July 1960), Security Council Res. 145 (22 July 1960).

12. Security Council Res. 146 (9 August 1960), par. 4. In debating the resolution in the Security Council, the British representative noted: "There can be no question of empowering the United Nations to use its forces to impose a political settlement," S/PV.942 (20 February 1961), par. 29.

13. This practice eased with the end of the Cold War, in part because of the need to generate sufficient numbers of troops to take on the numbers of operations authorized by the Security Council.

14. Security Council Res. 814 (26 March 1993).

15. Security Council Res. 837 (6 June 1993). The resolution also condemned radio broadcasts used to incite violence against UN troops.

16. "Ongoing" conflict in this sense does not necessarily mean active fighting. It includes situations in which there is no agreement to stop the conflict even though fighting may be sporadic or temporarily suspended.

17. Betts, "The Delusion of Impartial Intervention," p. 21.

18. Srebrenica Report, A/54/549 (15 November 1999). par. 499.

Jane Boulden holds a Canada Research Chair in international relations and security studies at the Royal Military College of Canada. Previously she was a MacArthur Research Fellow at the Centre for International Studies, University of Oxford, where the research for this article was carried out. Her recent publications include Jane Boulden, ed., Dealing with Conflict in Africa: The United Nations and Regional Organizations (2003); Jane Boulden and Thomas G. Weiss, eds., Terrorism and the UN: Before and After September 11th (2004), and Jane Boulden, Peace Enforcement (2001).
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Author:Boulden, Jane
Publication:Global Governance
Date:Apr 1, 2005
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