Saturday, August 08, 2020

Lê Thanh Mai

enhanced the influence of liberal theories of international relations within the scholars. One of the liberal main focuses is on the rediscovery of international organizations, which realism ignores or fails to understand. Admittedly, today we witness the continuing expansion of supranational organizations and hear many who agree with US President Bill Clinton’s contention that “multilateral action holds promise as never before” and that there exists an opportunity “to reinvent the institutions of collective security” (Kegley, 1995, p.13). The United Nations (UN) has been a convincing and dominant example for this school of thought. Free from Cold War paralysis, the UN has started to “flex its muscle” and strengthened its capacity to preserve peace. Acknowledging its role in peacemaking, peacekeeping and peacebuilding, Peter Carey asserts: “if the UN does not enforce international law, the world will continue to suffer endless conflicts, both economic and military, and will experience ever graver breaches of human rights” (Carey et al., 1995, p. 12). However, dealing with a world of complexities “dominated by the less developed and highly troubled nations or states, whose numbers within the international system are increasing, and a challenge to major powers in determining what role they can and need to play” (Slater, 1993, 311-312), the UN in peacekeeping operation cannot avoid encountering the constraints from the organization itself and from the target state as well, which by no means falsify liberal interpretation. It only confirms the fact that “[UN’s] reform is a continuing process, and improvement can have no limit” (Boutros, 1995, p. 48).

Viewed in this light, the essay starts by giving a brief definition of peace as a theoretical foundation for later analysis. It then attempts to set out the constraints and achievements of UN’s peacemaking, peacekeeping and peacebuilding in Cambodia and East Timor as two demonstrable case studies for the above hypothesis. Next the essay provides some assumptions about the differences of the UN’s work in maintaining international peace and security in the two case studies, and concludes with a number of suggestions for improvement of the UN peace operation so that it is more capable of achieving the great objectives of international peace, stability and security.

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