The United Nations peace operations (peace- making, peacekeeping, peace-building & peace enforcement) are important procedures to either maintain or enforce order in conflict zones. Nevertheless, the use of chapter VII of the UN Charter, which ensures the use of force in such operations, is debatable.
Peacemaking is usually a questionable peace operation due to its peculiar legal basis, which in comparison to the other preemptive measures, uses force in a harsher way. Peacemaking operations, for being able to use such traditional hard power measures, are not acknowledged by the Brazilian government, which prefers softer methods to maintain peace.
Chapter VII of the UN Charter is the most argued among the United Nations member States. It is this chapter that supports the use of force by the backing of UN soldiers (blue helmets) in conflict zones. In specific cases, the country where the conflict is happening is not inquired if the UN force can or cannot assist on the peace establishment. Such procedures diminish countries’ sovereignty, have an offensive action, and may cause even more distress if the peace force acts during the conflict. Not all the peace operations are guided through these harsh methods though.
Preventive diplomacy is a procedure that countries found to avoid future problems and to ensure a dialogue among the parties, which has no use of force involved whatsoever. Nonetheless, not always does it prevent the conflict itself. Other operations such as peacebuilding and peacekeeping are also used in conflict resolutions.
Peacebuilding is the aid given by the United Nations in post natural disasters or in post conflict zones, which, most of the times, counts with the cooperation of the civil society, through non-governmental organizations and other institutions. The exchange among the several institutions is usually very positive, helping local governments solve social and economic issues that may have caused the conflict.
Peacekeeping is a similar operation, although there are some peculiarities that mark it as different. This is a mission that acts in post cease-fire situations, and with the consent of the conflicting parties. Such operations must be neutral in the conflict, as the UN force is allowed to carry light armaments, in order to use it only in a defensive manner. This operation has a different tactic because it is there to maintain order in the territory.
Peacemaking is therefore the severest operation in comparison to the above three. This operation performs during, and not post, interstate conflicts, it does not need the consent from the conflicting parties to enter the territory, the forces use heavy armaments and their approach is quite offensive. These attitudes ought to be incompatible with the UN basic principles, such as security and peace. In peacemaking operations the approach is very strict and it can cause even more distress to innocent people. There is a slight help from the UN in this case; however, the damage can be worse.
The Brazilian government, which has taken part in several peacebuilding missions, has stated that it does not acknowledge peacemaking procedures. The main reasons are that intervention without the consent of the parties diminishes the sovereignty of the countries involved. The criteria to differentiate one interstate conflict from another is subjective, therefore to use hard power should always be the last resource proposed by the United Nations.
Brazil is currently leading the Mission of the United Nations on the Stabilization of Haiti (MINUSTAH) and has been progressing by sending not only military peace force, through a Brazilian contingent, but also social workers, engineers, doctors, which are there to help Haiti to develop itself by its own means. In Brazil’s viewpoint such attitudes are better than a military intervention, because it creates a sense of society, which is something that a post conflict country needs after such tragedies.
The United Nations has created, with the help of its member states, important tools to avoid conflicts in the world. Such tools need a revision in their constitutive principles in order to put in balance what is out of synchronicity. The organization, by acting under such an intrusive procedure, is becoming more powerful than it should, is reducing its member states’ sovereignty without asking for their consent and is acting unilaterally. Defensive actions together with social motivations are good examples of what this organization can do to improve peace establishment procedures.