The Future of the United Nations: Implications for Peace Operations

  • October 01, 1993
  • Dr Steven Metz

President Clinton has expressed clear support for greater U.N. effectiveness in the peaceful resolution of conflict and the organization of collective security. This entails finding ways to improve U.N. peacekeeping, peacemaking, and peace-enforcement. The U.S. Army will have a vital role in this process and thus must better understand both the U.N. itself and the key issues and questions associated with peace support operations. The foundation of such understanding is debate on a series of broad issues such as the macro-level configuration of the international system, alterations in global values (especially the notion of sovereignty), and the function of the United Nations in possible future international systems. While questions concerning such problems cannot be answered with certainty, they will serve as the basis for future decisions on doctrine, force structure, and strategy. It is thus vital for American security professionals to grapple with them.

To encourage this process, the Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College, sponsored a roundtable on October 5, 1993 that brought together distinguished experts from both inside and outside the government. They included widely-published writers, analysts, and practitioners of peace operations. Their goal was less to reach consensus on the future of the U.N. than to agree on what the vital questions, problems, and issues will be. This report is not a verbatim transcript of discussion at the roundtable, but an attempt to capture the debate and identify the core issues which emerged.