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          At the beginning of this August (2003), Serbian and Montenegrin media conveyed the news broadcasted by U.S. TV network CNN according to which Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Živković, during his recent official visit to the USA, offered his American counterpart that 1000 members of the Serbian and Montenegrin Armed Forces (SMAF) join coalition forces in Iraq. This initiative, given by Serbian Prime Minister, provoked vehement and controversial reactions in local political, scientific and journalistic circles - unconditional support and approval but also total dispute of legitimacy, realistic approach and usefulness of this initiative. Subsequent official explanations of this initiative (given by Serbian Prime Minister himself, Foreign Ministry, Supreme Defence Council and SCG Council of Ministers) partly clarified but did not eliminate numerous unknown elements, objections and even doubts in feasibility and usefulness of such an initiative. It is difficult, certainly, to find completely valid and definite answers to the questions of (un)justifiability of the motives, reasons or arguments which can justify or dispute this initiative, if the problem of essential differences among UN peace operation mechanisms has not been previously explained compared to peace operation model which is one of the last instruments of the military-political strategy of the USA and NATO.

          Certainly, it is not unknown that peace operations are originally linked to the UN system of collective security and mechanism of collective force against the state which committed aggression or some other violation of international peace (famous chapter VII of the UN Charter). According to the UN Charter, UN Security Council is primarily responsible for maintenance of international peace. However, in the first years of UN activity, due to the sharp ideological confrontation of block leading powers - permanent members of the body, regular (mis)use of veto and lack of the instruments planned by Art. 43 and 47 of the Charter (UN armed forces and military staff committee), Security Council did not function efficiently, even in those serious cases of violation of international peace when it was engaged formally, together with UN General Assembly (conflicts on division of Palestine - UNTSO in 1948; conflicts in Kashmir - UNMOGIP in 1949 and Korea conflict in 1950) which have not been resolved up to now.

          It is less known that, in order to resolve this situation, in 1950 UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 377A, better known as "Uniting for Peace", which is an original legal and political basis for UN peace operations, as instruments of establishing and keeping international peace. Namely, this resolution strictly defines the authority of UN General Assembly to discuss and decide in the cases of violation of international peace, in the situations when Security Council is not able to do so. The same resolution provides the opportunity for member states to accept, by their free will, the requests of the General Assembly or Security Council and to assume through so called temporary agreements sending their prepared armed troops, within UN peace forces, into the regions where there was an aggression or other violation of peace. This way established and considered to be temporary and additional mechanism for starting and carrying out UN peace operations was applied, for the first and only time (in its original form, according to the Resolution 377A), on the occasion of the tripartite (British-French-Israel) aggression against Egypt in 1956, when so called special UN armed forces (UNEF I) were formed and sent to the region of conflict in Sinai. Afterwards, numerous new cases of observers' missions and operations followed, engaging UN peace keeping forces, based on the Resolution "Uniting for Peace" and including measures and instruments prescribed by chapters VI and VII of the Charter, some of them still continuing (Cyprus - UNFICYP since 1964, Golan - UNDOF since 1973, Kashmir - UNMOGIP since 1949). In some of them, the troops of former SFRJ were engaged (Sinai - UNEF I since 1956; Iran-Iraq conflict - UNIMOG since 1988; Namibia - UNTAG since 1989 etc.) while the SMAF members take part in newly formed UN observers' missions in Congo and East Timor.

          In the meanwhile, a temporary and additional mechanism of starting and carrying out UN peace operations grew into a permanent mechanism, through continuous improvements and implementation of the authorities, measures and instruments prescribed by the UN Charter. During many years of practise, certain basic rules and standards for UN peace operations were established and the huge majority of the UN members respected them up to now. Here are some of the most important: 1) only Security Council and UN General Assembly are in charge to organise and manage UN peace operations, while this authority can be parallel or subsidiary; 2) Security Council or General Assembly as a rule give authority to the UN General Secretary to manage peace operations and only in special cases it is given to a member state; 3) military contingents of great powers - permanent members of Security Council cannot, according to the regulations, take part in UN peace armed forces; 4) UN peace forces cannot be sent to the interested state (which is the victim of aggression or one of the sides in conflict), according to the regulations, without the state's approval and while this approval is in effect and - only as an exemption - according to the decision brought by Security Council; 5) UN peacekeepers are not authorised to use military force and they cannot be used as a side in conflict or in favour of one of the sides in conflict; 6) use of weapons by the members of peace forces is strictly limited to legitimate self-defence; 7) during their mandate, UN peace forces must operate impartially, which means to refrain from any actions which would interfere with rights, requests or position of the sides in conflict; 8) last but not least, the issue of financing peace operations was mainly settled from so called special account in the UN budget and voluntary contributions of the UN member states.

          During the 90's in the last century, when new global challenges emerged, a new approach to the global peace and security was taken by the USA military-political circles (allegedly unsatisfied by financial overburden caused by UN peace operations which were not sufficiently efficient anyway). Namely, even at the NATO summit in Rome in 1991, USA and NATO defined and - at the NATO summit in Washington in 1999 - completed the concept of preventing conflicts and managing crisis, as one of the key elements of its 21st century strategy. They planned and developed very broad structure of various types of specialised forces within this framework - forces for some general tasks such as early warnings and preventing conflicts, for managing crisis, for humanitarian and peace operations (for imposing, establishing, keeping and building peace).

          All types of peace operations, as defined by USA and NATO strategic concepts, were applied for the first time during the national conflicts in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) and UNPROFOR mandate since 1994 and then IFOR (since the end of 1995) succeeded by SFOR some time later (NATO peace forces, in charge for control of the Dayton Accord implementation and peace stability in BiH), which is still there. The very fact that these NATO peace missions, practically commanded by the USA, had classic functions of a side in conflict during its mandate and therefore drastically violated the rule of impartiality, still provoke numerous disputes and doubts in regularity and usefulness of such operations.

          The NATO multinational forces in Kosovo and Metohija (KFOR), formed according to the UN Security Council Resolution 1244, present even more drastic case. It is well known that these forces were situated in this area after so called humanitarian intervention which was, in fact, a classic armed aggression of the USA and NATO forces (March-June 1999) on the FRY, not approved by UN Security Council. If we take into consideration the widely spread opinion that these forces, under undisputable patronage of the USA, have not wanted/been able yet to achieve any of the goals they were in charge for, then certainly one should not be surprised by numerous disputes of the legitimacy of such peace operation.

          Soon after the well known, dramatic suicidal actions taken by Muslim terrorists on September 11th 2001, the USA started - with benevolent support of the Security Council and also with unconditional support of numerous countries in so called anti-terrorist coalition - the armed actions of mass revenge against Afghanistan in order to destroy logistic bases of Muslim terrorists Osama Bin Laden and to overthrow the regime in that country. The Taliban regime was overthrown, a new transitory government was established in Afghanistan in 2002 but Bin Laden was not captured nor peace was established in this country. Even the mission of International security assistance peace forces (ISAF), established in this country in the meantime and directly managed by the USA, did not help. It is not likely that the modes and effects achieved by these forces in Afghanistan can change the opinion of the majority in this country, and even of the significant part of international public opinion on the usefulness of this mission, even after the change in command (NATO took over the command of the ISAF on August 11th 2003.

          Finally, the last in this line is the case of Iraq. No mater how (in)valid and (un)justified were the American reasons and motives for starting a huge punitive expedition with their most loyal allies against in March 2003, still remains the fact that this action was carried out without the Security Council's approval and is qualified by the majority of the international public, as a classic aggression. It is also unlikely that the announced preparations for forming and sending special UN peace forces to Iraq by the end of 2003, forces which would deal with the peace stability and humanitarian actions (even if the USA would renounce commanding these forces) could seriously change the widely spread opinion that these forces would only be an addition or mere replacement for the US occupying forces.

          Those are, in fact, the cases of the USA and (or) NATO peace operations, which are to prove the American aversion to UN peace operations is justified, although many serious analysts point out that, comparing financial parameters, inefficiency and other negative aspects, the former even now are a great deal better than the latter. Therefore, there are no convincing proofs that the mechanism of the UN peace operations (based on the UN Charter and "Uniting for Peace" Resolution) should be definitely changed by the model offered by the USA as a salvation formula for preserving world peace. Great majority of UN state members share this opinion so vehement disputes are still to begin. 

        • Tags: smaf, armed forces, Serbia and Montenegro, USA, un, Iraq, peace missions, peace support operations
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