Ireland, peacekeeping and policing the 'new world order'.
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Murphy, R. (1997). Ireland, peacekeeping and policing the 'new world order'. Belfast: Centre for Research and Documentation.
The collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the 'Cold War' has given rise to a situation where there is in effect one world 'superpower', the United States of America (US). The so called 'new world order' was intended to unlock the United Nations (UN) mechanism for the maintenance of international peace, and exploit opportunities for peacekeeping and nation building. Instead, there is a perception and fear in the Majority World that the UN is being exploited to police a world order based on the interests of the powerful few. This fear is linked to the lack of success in reforming the Security Council and making it more representative of, and accountable to, the membership of the UN as a whole. Since the inception of UN peacekeeping, the army or 'Defence Forces' of the Irish Republic have played a significant role in such operations. Our acceptability as peacekeepers owed much to our traditional policy of military neutrality and our history. However, Ireland lies between two worlds with regard to peacekeeping - on the one hand, it has been the source of peacekeepers since the 1960s; on the other, it is a site of conflict where peacekeeping and a conflict resolution process is required. It is also caught between the two worlds of peacekeeping and enforcement action, both in the UN and Northern Ireland. The UN, which organizes peacekeeping, has also been caught between two worlds; firstly, between the geopolitical interests of the dominant powers in the UN Security Council, and those of the membership in the General Assembly and, secondly, until recently, between both sides in the 'Cold War'. These tensions are reflected in the fundamental division between peacekeeping and enforcement action. The tensions between peacekeeping and enforcement action are also evident in the Northern Ireland conflict. The most powerful actor in this situation is the British State - a permanent member of the Security Council. British military intervention in Northern Ireland in 1969 began under the guise of peacekeeping - to 'keep warring communities apart'. But the intervention had more to do with maintaining the Unionist dominated order than peacekeeping . Within a short time, the peacekeeping changed to enforcement action, with the security forces becoming aligned to the unionist bloc and embroiled in the conflict it was intended to resolve. Wider debates around peacekeeping and peace enforcement, therefore, have immediate implications for the role of the British military in Northern Ireland. The recent Irish Government White Paper on Foreign Policy raised a number of important issues for Ireland. Key questions, however, remain unanswered. The Gulf War and more recent events in Somalia, Rwanda, and the former Yugoslavia place a responsibility on Ireland to re-define its role, especially in regard to UN peacekeeping and similar operations. We need to examine whether military neutrality is appropriate or even relevant in the post 'cold war' era, and if the perception of Ireland in the Majority World is what we would wish it to be. This pamphlet seeks to explore these themes and the implications for Ireland of recent developments in international 'peacekeeping'. It begins by looking at the development of the peacekeeping in the UN. It then looks at the role of the Irish Defences Forces which, in the absence of external conflict, have been defined by the role in support of the civil power and as peacekeepers for the UN. It then examines some of the recent interventions by the UN which have moved away from peacekeeping and towards peace enforcement - threatening the legitimacy of the UN in the process. Finally, the analysis looks at the British Army role in Northern Ireland in the light of the earlier discussion of peacekeeping. The analysis records the movement away from a peacekeeping role and suggests that the British Army is unlikely ever to be able to play such a role in Northern Ireland.
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