Thursday, 6 September 2007

joint United Nations/African Union peacekeeping operation for Darfur is unprecedented

Hybrid force in for a tough call
The joint United Nations/African Union peacekeeping operation for Darfur is unprecedented — not just for the number involved or for the sheer complexity of the operation.

Never before have UN peacekeepers worked with another international organisation — the AU in this case — in a single integrated operation that is fully funded by the UN assessment mechanism and under the integrated command structure and rules, procedures, and processes of the UN.

The troop numbers have also swelled from 7,000 to about 26,000. Rwanda occupies a special position in the force: It contributed about 29 per cent of the troops while Maj-Gen Charles Karenzi Karake is the new deputy commander of the joint force.

While the hybrid mission by the UN/AU — that came to being at the 5,727th meeting of the Security Council of July 31, when Resolution 1769 (2007) was adopted to authorise its creation — is a novel idea, it is bound to swim in a river of difficulties.

ONE OF the challenges to be faced by the hybrid force in Darfur is its size. It takes time and effort to mobilise such a force besides the existing tripartite mechanism of the UN, the AU and the government of Sudan in as far as the administrative component of the mission is concerned.

Sadly, some of the expected 26,000 troops will not be deployed until 2008.

EQUALLY, IT is not easy to find and fund the troops with the necessary training, equipment and logistical support.

The Darfur mission demonstrates the daunting challenge to peacekeepers that Africa has become. It is estimated seven out of the UN’s 16 peacekeeping operations worlwide are in Africa.

The success of this mission will largely depend on adapting it to the unique circumstances in Sudan.

But the most important factor, may as well be the hardest to judge and the most difficult to foster: The political commitment of the protagonists to the ongoing peace process.

Also, the readiness of the parties involved to commit to peace and to make the political compromises that is inherent in any peace process, cannot be taken for granted.

Oscar Kimanuka is a commentator on social and economic issues based in Kigali. E-mail:

No comments: