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Research Report

Europe Rediscovers Peacekeeping?: Political and Military Logics in the 2006 UNIFIL Enhancement

Alexander Mattelaer
Series-Editor Sven BISCOP
Copyright Date: Oct. 1, 2009
Published by: Egmont Institute
Pages: 36
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 7-8)

    The 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah ended with the ‘enhancement’ of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). The UN peacekeepers in Lebanon, already present since 1978, were considerably strengthened in numbers and equipment in order to provide an effective security buffer between the conflict parties.² This re-designing of UNIFIL in full crisis mode was made possible by the substantial participation of European nations. France and Italy took the lead in this process, and many others followed suit. For most of these European troop contributors, this marked a return to UN peacekeeping since the debacles in the former...

  2. (pp. 9-14)

    The war between Israel and Hezbollah and the following deployment of extra peacekeepers did not come out of the blue. Since its inception in 1978, in the midst of the Lebanese civil war and the context of the Arab-Israeli conflict, the outlook of UNIFIL has constantly evolved in response to local circumstances.³ UNIFIL’s troop strength went up and down several times as the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) repeatedly occupied southern Lebanon to deal with threats posed by Arab militants. When Israel unilaterally withdrew from Lebanon in 2000, Hezbollah filled the resulting power vacuum. This Shia organisation, inspired by the Iranian...

  3. (pp. 15-18)

    As any organisation tasked with commanding armed forces, the UN has developed its own approach to the planning and conduct of peacekeeping operations. How UN peacekeeping should ‘work’ has been the subject of a decade-long series of reforms. Most notable in this regard were the publication of the guidelines for the UN Integrated Mission Planning Process (IMPP) and the Capstone Doctrine codifying the principles and guidelines for peacekeeping.15 The IMPP especially gives a clear outline of what the UN planning process should look like, if time and resources would allow it, that is. However, as UNIFIL does not qualify as...

  4. (pp. 19-22)

    The preceding sections discussed the planning of the UNIFIL enhancement at different levels, ranging from the high political level of the Security Council over the different aspects of the UN bureaucracy down to the level of operational planning in the field. It is now time to replace this descriptive focus with an analytical mindset and draw all aspects together in an assessment of UNIFIL’s strategic logic. This means answering the question how UNIFIL’s forces and capabilities on the ground are being put to use in function of the political objectives as set out in the mandate. In a nutshell, this...

  5. (pp. 23-30)

    On paper – or in military powerpoint briefings – operations often look surprisingly clear and straightforward. In practice, operations hardly ever run as smooth as one might wish for. Incomplete or ambiguous information, organisational factors, multinationality, conceptual problems and, quite simply, changes in the situation, add various layers of friction that, at the very least, complicate the planning and conduct of operations. In the worst case, they doom an operation to utter failure. This section analyses three categories of such friction that were particularly salient in the planning and implementation of the enhanced UNIFIL. At a fundamental level, these three...

  6. (pp. 31-32)

    This paper started with an outline of the political decision-making and military planning of the UNIFIL enhancement. It subsequently analysed UNIFIL’s operational strategy and argued that this was based on a three-dimensional role for the operation, namely that of military buffer, de-escalation mechanism and booster for the local economy. Finally, it analysed the politico-military friction that manifested itself in the enhancement planning and implementation and categorised various issues into three clusters, i.e. friction bearing on information issues, organisational aspects as well as conceptual problems. On the basis of this analysis, three overall conclusions can be drawn.

    First, the case-study of...