Peace operations intend to solve political problems without resorting to war. They may take place when a breach of the peace is threatened or when political violence occurs. The United Nations Charter specifically addresses peaceful resolution of disputes and breaches of the peace among nations. However, the United Nations and other organizations have also applied peace operations in internal disputes and may do so again in the future.
Peace operations are not primarily military operations. They are political processes with military support. Military forces make important contributions to the process, but military personnel should never forget the essential political nature of these operations and the subordinate, supporting role of the armed forces. Peace operations are known by many different names, but they consist of five basic types: preventive deployments, peace building, peacemaking, peacekeeping, and peace enforcement (PE).
Preventive Deployments are shows of force to demonstrate international resolve to solve the conflict by military means. They may be small, symbolic demonstrations or major deployments with significant combat capabilities. In either case, the intent is that demonstration of military power serve as an aid to diplomacy and that the forces not engage in combat.
Peace Building establishes and strengthens political and social institutions for the peaceful resolution of disputes. Peace building may work before a conflict erupts into violence or after a cease-fire. An example is the establishment of a Palestinian police force in the Gaza Strip and Jericho to maintain order after a negotiated withdrawal of the Israeli army. These operations also include political, economic, and social infrastructure development in which the military may engage under the title nation assistance. Humanitarian assistance to alleviate short-term hardships may also aid in peace building.
Peacemaking is the term the United Nations uses to describe the political process to resolve disputes. It consists of diplomacy, mediation, arbitration, judicial process, and good offices. The US military usually is not directly involved, but supportive operations contribute to the peacemaking process.
Peacekeeping operations entail military forces and observers, used with the consent of the belligerent parties, to maintain a negotiated truce and promote conditions that support diplomatic efforts. These operations are sometimes described as "truce keeping." Peacekeeping forces and observers assure each party to a truce that the other is not violating its terms in preparation for resuming hostilities. Peacekeeping operations cannot solve the political problem; they only aid the diplomatic process. Consent of the belligerents is a necessary condition of peacekeeping. Consent distinguishes peacekeeping from other types of peace operations.
Peace Enforcement goes beyond peacekeeping and combines coercive measures with diplomacy to compel the belligerents to stop fighting and initiate negotiations. In peace enforcement, the force conducting the operation does not have the consent of all the belligerents and is seeking to make them do things they do not want to do. This difference has important implications for the way the force must operate to accomplish its mission and provide for its own security. International experience of peace enforcement is limited. It has been made to work, such as in the Dominican Republic in 1965. The preponderance of American force over the small belligerent parties made it possible for the United States to make them stop fighting. During colonial times, the imperial powers often had sufficient military superiority to compel their subjects to stop fighting. When forces with significant military capability are involved, this may be impossible. The peace enforcement organization must generate enough visible combat power that the belligerents recognize the futility of opposition. The belligerents must also recognize the impartiality of the PE force. Without this recognition, the mission will fail. The Dominican Republic intervention was successful because the force treated all sides fairly. However, the whole concept implies a rational response from the belligerents. That is far from guaranteed. If the attempt to coerce the belligerents to stop the hostilities fails, and a reliance on the political process also fails, the sponsoring international organization has a difficult choice to make. It must then either go to war or abandon its goals. Peace enforcement requires a credible military capability. Even though the intent is to avoid violence, the force must include the whole spectrum of combat power. The show and demonstration of force must be sufficient to convince the belligerents that they must take the international policy seriously. The belligerents must understand that they cannot afford to disregard the intervening force and its directives.
Rules of engagement (ROE) are used in both Peace Keeping and Peace Enforcement operations. They specify the conditions under which weapons may be carried, quantities of ammunition to be carried, and the circumstances under which deadly force can be used. The guiding principle is that violence is used only in self-defense and, even then, is kept to the minimum necessary for the purpose. The rules of engagement may also prescribe procedures for accounting for weapons and ammunition and the ways for using various types of weapons.
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