Overview of key technologies for peace operations; remote sensing, mine clearance and less-than-lethal weapons
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Following the end of the Cold War in the late 198Os, a series of international peace operations, led by the United Nations, took place in diverse parts of the world, including Somalia, El Salvador, Cambodia, Bosnia, Angola, and Mozambique. Earlier, superpower tensions had frequently acted to prevent international interventions (Angola and El Salvador are clear examples). Conflicts were often “sponsored” by a major power that preferred to wage a surrogate battle for influence rather than to resolve the matter through international consensus and a compromise peace. Through the mechanism of the Security Council veto (or, more generally, the threat of a veto), the United Nations was effectively prevented from taking decisive action in nearly all cases, except for those in which there already was an agreement between the United States and the USSR that an internationally brokered effort was desirable or, at least, not objectionable. Examples of UN missions undertaken in this period from the 1950s through most of the 1980s are those in Cyprus, Lebanon, Western Sahara, and a small observer group in Kashmir. The UN missions from the earlier era were nearly all true peacekeeping ones. That is, they acted with the consent of all parties to the conflict, and their goal was to maintain a cease-fire or truce (usually just by observation and reporting to the parties) that had already been agreed to. The UN operations in the new era, in contrast, have sometimes taken place in areas or countries in which conflicts were not resolved. While an initial agreement of the parties was generally obtained, at times the situation rapidly evolved into one in which at least one party was not in agreement with the UN presence or activities (e.g., Bosnia, Somalia, Cambodia). Further, in these sorts of operations, the role of the UN extended well beyond observing a truce. The international force also engaged in humanitarian relief operations, in postconflict rebuilding of a nation’s infrastructure (including holding elections, frequently a nontrivial effort-eg., Cambodia), and, most significantly, in attempting to enforce rather than to observe compliance with a truce among warring parties.
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