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Research Report

United Nations Peace Operations and the Motivations that Lie at the Root of Turkey’s Involvement

Uğur Güngör
Copyright Date: Jul. 1, 2015
Pages: 48
OPEN ACCESS
https://www.jstor.org/stable/resrep05092
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Table of Contents

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  1. (pp. 3-5)

    The UN’s peace operations began as an international observer mission in May 1948 with the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) in the Middle East to assist the UN Mediator and the Truce Commission in supervising the observance of the truce in Palestine. Since then, the UN’s peace operations have evolved in size, complexity, legitimacy, and effectiveness and have gone through periods of innovation, development, and expansion-at times with periods of difficulty, failure, and disillusionment. During the Cold War, the UN undertook 13 peace operations of varying scope and duration.

    With the end of the Cold War, there was a...

  2. (pp. 5-8)

    The UN is an institution of a particular historical structure and particular international system. It was created to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.” This is reinforced in Article 1:1, which states that the purpose of the UN is “to maintain international peace and security.” However, neither the member states nor the international community have been able to always settle their disputes peacefully or by undertaking the requisite collective action whenever peace is threatened. The UN has seldom been united or fully effective in its use of force for the prevention of aggression and it has never managed...

  3. (pp. 8-10)

    One of the main incentives behind the development of UN peacekeeping was the Cold War political climate in which it evolved. With the end of World War II, some significant changes occurred in the nature of the international system. It evolved from a ‘balance of power’ structure to a ‘bipolar’ structure. The transition from a ‘balance of power’ system to a bipolar system brought about systemic changes in the world order. During the Cold War, the attitude of the two superpowers had a crucial impact on the performance of the UN to maintain peace and security. The superpowers had an...

  4. (pp. 11-12)

    The demand for and the scope of peace operations have steadily increased in the post-Cold War era, with the UN authorizing or deploying a series of new missions. International politics have witnessed a remarkable revival of the UN. In order to understand the reasons for this expansion, it will be better to examine the international climate in this new era. The post-Cold War era marked the downfall of the bipolar system that had governed the understanding and conduct of international relations since the end of the Second World War. Beginning with the Gorbachev era, changes such as the success of...

  5. (pp. 12-15)

    The end of the Cold War increased the need for international peace operations in several distinct ways, each of which presented different problems and opportunities for the UN. The main reason for the increase in the number of peace operations and observer missions has been the increased capacity of the UN Security Council to agree on action in particular crises. The decline of East-West tensions and the agreements between the USA and Russia to put an end to numerous local and regional conflicts led to greater cooperation between the super powers. The five permanent members of the Security Council thus...

  6. (pp. 15-17)

    As pointed out above, the changing nature of peacekeeping derived from a permissive political context in which the five permanent members of the UN Security Council cooperated in the maintenance of international peace and security. There have been dramatic changes in the nature as well as in the volume of UN activities in the field of peace and security. In addition to the increase in the application of peace operations, the types of missions which have been mandated have also altered. The objectives of peace operations have in fact, changed considerably, from helping in the maintenance of cease-fires during the...

  7. (pp. 17-18)

    While Turkey shied away from peace operations during the Cold War, Turkey’s involvement in UN-led peace operations has increased in the post-Cold War era. The following section aims at analyzing the motivations that lie at the root of Turkey’s involvement in peace operations, mostly organized under the leadership of the United Nations in the post-Cold War era. Having mentioned the cases involving the deployment of Turkish troops abroad, I will examine alternative sets of motivations behind Turkey’s active involvement in peace operations in the 1990s. Ideational, security-related and domestic factors will be compared and contrasted in light of Turkey’s experiences...

  8. (pp. 18-23)

    Even though Turkey’s participation in peace operations has increased in the post-Cold War era, Turkey did not contribute to such missions during the Cold War years. This was despite the fact that seven18 out of thirteen peace operations were deployed in the Middle East as mentioned above. Turkey first participated in a UN military operation in Korea in 1950, where, between the years 1950-1953, a total of 15,000 Turks served on a rotational basis. This was the only case concerning the deployment of Turkish troops abroad as part of a peace operation in its broadest sense.

    In order to understand...

  9. (pp. 23-26)

    With the advent of the post-Cold War era, Turkey’s involvement in peace operations increased. Since 1988, the Turkish Armed Forces have joined actively in various peace operations with different observation functions as well as with military contingents.

    In the Balkans, with a view to finding a solution for the Bosnia and Herzegovina conflict, Turkey primarily assigned a regiment-level task force to the UN Protection Force in Bosnia-Herzegovina (UNPROFOR), which was organized between 04 August 1993 and 20 December 1995 in order to first create safe zones and then protect them. Turkey’s more active peacekeeping policy has not been limited to...

  10. (pp. 26-28)

    In the mid-1990s, the International Community engaged in different types of peace operations in various regional conflicts around the world. The daunting challenges faced by peacekeepers in Somalia, Rwanda, Srebrenica, and elsewhere needed to be analyzed and reflected upon in a more inclusive manner than what was the norm at the time. As a response to this lack of an international, effective and inclusive mechanism to discuss the challenges of peace operations in a systematic, result-oriented, frank yet friendly way, the Challenges Forum platform was launched in 1996.

    The Challenges Forum organizes several different types of forums and seminars each...

  11. (pp. 28-28)

    Having explained the cases involving the deployment of Turkish troops abroad, this section will analyze different sets of motivations behind Turkey’s participation in peace operations. Turkey’s approach to peace operations has been, to a significant degree, informed by the ideational concern of being recognized as a member of the western international community. Participation in such operations has been an identity-constructing activity in the sense that Turkey has tried to reinforce its eroding western identity through participating in peace operations.

    Despite this ideational motivation, alternative explanations can also be offered as to why Turkey has been increasingly involved in peace operations....

  12. (pp. 28-30)

    This traditional explanation is based on the assumption that Turkey’s participation in peace operations has been a function of its security needs. When the systemic changes following the dissolution of the Soviet Union increased Turkey’s vulnerability to regional security concerns, Ankara increasingly saw involvement in peace operations, as well as developing its peace keeping capabilities, as an effective security strategy.

    From this point of view, the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the transformation of the political and strategic landscape of Eastern Europe and Central Asia and the eruption of violent ethno-national conflicts in the Balkans and the Caucasus affected Turkey...

  13. (pp. 30-31)

    Another argument accounting for Turkey’s involvement in peace operations suggests that ethnic conflicts in Turkey’s region generated extensive concern in Turkey due to the presence of large numbers of Turks who had migrated from neighboring areas, particularly the Balkans, to Turkey over the years. It is certain that the impact of ethnic lobbies on Ankara’s decisions to send troops to international peacekeeping operations in the Balkans and the Caucasus was noteworthy. Everyday events in the Balkans, the Caucasus and the Middle East were rapidly noted in the Turkish security debate and played a role in public opinion, for they involved...

  14. (pp. 31-35)

    Given the unconvincing nature of the explanations above, this article argues that Turkey’s involvement in peace operations during the post-Cold War era can better be explained by the dynamics of Turkey’s relations with the West. Turkey’s contribution to Western security interests had in the past constituted the most important link tying Turkey to the West, and therefore making it easy for Turkey to be recognized as Western. Turkey’s concern to be recognized as Western was met by its membership in NATO and close cooperation with the West against the common Soviet threat. In addition, Turkey’s security identity and interests were...

  15. (pp. 35-36)

    Some argue that political rationales appear to offer the best explanation for Turkey’s contributions to UN peace operations, especially the Turkish government’s new foreign policy initiatives and its goal to establish Turkey as an emerging power in world politics. Şatana argues that the rationales behind Turkey’s provision of UN peace operations changed significantly from the 1990s to the 2000s.37 While its UN peacekeeping contributions could be explained by ideational and security related explanations in the 1990s, Turkey’s more recent rising contributions are a consequence of its political aspirations to become a regional and global player. Bolstered by its growing economy...

  16. (pp. 36-41)

    This policy paper argues that Turkey’s participation in peace operations, particularly during the post-Cold War era, could be to a significant degree explained by the ideational concern of being recognized as a Western country. Such an ideational concern has come to the fore as the Western aspects of Turkey’s international / security identity have been exposed to serious challenges in the 1990s. While the prospects of Turkey’s accession to the EU have remained low and the European character of NATO has gradually eroded, Turkey has increasingly turned to peace operations as an important instrument to help re-establish its tarnished Western...