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UN Peacekeeping Again Under Fire

UN Peacekeeping Again Under Fire

If reports coming out of South Sudan are true the United Nations may be facing its biggest embarrassment since its missteps in the Democratic of Congo. The New York Times reports that UN Peacekeepers stood by idly while Nuer tribesman massacred fleeing Murles. Unconfirmed reports suggest that over a thousand men, women and children were brutally murdered while a well armed UN force did nothing.

What is disturbing about this story is that UN officials were tracking this development for weeks, even after a group calling itself the Nuer Youth White Army told the media that they were going to wipe out the Murle.

There seems to be an inability on the part of New York to effectively operate a remote operation with essentialy an all volunteer force and a rather dodgy chain of command. The Security Council is always an issue in these kinds of affairs as well. Voices calling for the scrapping of the current system will likely gain a hearing after yet another episode of ‘failure to protect.’

The very existence of the UN Peacekeeping operation may be a real obstacle for getting things accomplished. Since the creation of South Sudan was largely a project of various groups in the U.S. it should perhaps be the U.S. Marines who are protecting the Murle instead of a force of poorly trained and unmotivated peacekeepers with no dog in the fight.

If we can send some troops to Uganda why not to South Sudan as well? The U.S. has just as much skin in this game as the U.N. and as the blue helmets have failed to do their job then others more willing to engage should be given the responsibility before more people needlessly die.



Michael Keating

I am the Director of Operations at the Center for Peace, Development and Democracy at the University of Massachusetts Boston. I also lecture in the graduate program in International Relations. I have spent much of the past decade looking, learning and hopefully contributing in West Africa, most deeply in Liberia. My interests are in the areas of economic development, political leadership, media and higher education. In a former life I was a Partner with the Boston Consulting Group and an executive with Bertelsmann. I can be reached at [email protected]