When Should Blue Helmets Walk Away From a Conflict?

Richard Gowan
Content Type
Working Paper
Global Peace Operations Review
The renewed crisis in South Sudan is turning into a decisive test for the United Nations. There is a growing international outcry over reports that local forces raped and killed civilians almost in front of UN peacekeepers. The Security Council has struggled to persuade the South Sudanese government to accept the deployment of an additional 4,000 troops with a robust mandate to stabilize the capital, Juba. Having initially rejected the proposal, which has strong African support, President Salva Kiir now seems willing to at least consider the reinforcements. There are tensions in the Security Council over how to handle Kiir: the U.S. wants a tough line, but China and Russia insist on respect for that South Sudan’s sovereignty. Kiir and his advisers profoundly distrust the UN. According to a leaked South Sudanese document they believe that “The UN Secretary General [Ban Ki Moon] has constantly advanced negative views against the Government of the Republic of South Sudan and its leadership,” and even pursued a “regime change strategy.” This is unjust. A few outside analysts have advanced ambitious and probably unworkable plans to turn South Sudan into an international protectorate on the Kosovo model. But the UN is largely struggling to stay on top of the crisis and get aid to the suffering, rather than plotting to overthrow Kiir.
United Nations, Peacekeeping, Conflict, Humanitarian Crisis
Political Geography
South Sudan, Africa