An Input on a United Nations Peace Force

By Tad Daley

In the context of the Peace and Security stream of the ongoing Global Futures Forum process, Tad spoke for 3 minutes on the proposal for a United Nations Emergency Peace Force.

I speak today NOT to demand that the Summit of the Future establish a Federal Republic of the World in the year 2024. I know that is, shall we say, unlikely – though it’s what political philosophers for many centuries have insisted is the only real solution to the problem of war which has plagued humanity since the dawn.

But what I wish to put forward today is what I believe to be the single most important proposal for bringing an end to genocide and crimes against humanity – a standing, all volunteer, rapid reaction United Nations Emergency Peace Force. 

There are two big conceptual ideas which underlie this proposal – which dates back at least to the birth of the United Nations itself.

First, UN member states, over and over again, have proven unwilling to put their own forces directly at risk – no matter how horrible the atrocities – when the fight in question does not directly engage their own national interests.

SO MANY EXAMPLES: Bosnia. The Rohingya in Myanmar. Boko Haram. ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Haiti today! And most excruciatingly Rwanda, the prototypical example.

“Never again” we say. Again and again we see. 

What was needed then and what will undoubtedly be needed again is not national military forces, but a UN military force. Its raison d’être would be to defend not the national interests of any particular state, but the common human interest we all share in relegating genocide to the dustbin of history. The U.S. Army didn’t intervene in Rwanda because the United States had no vital national interest in Rwanda. The same was true for every other country in the world, despite implorement from UN Secretary-General Boutrous Boutrous-Ghali. THIS would be a force to fill that gap, to intervene when intervention is so desperately needed, because IT would exist to serve what we might call vital international interests, and the global public good.

THAT is big conceptual idea #1.

And the second Big Conceptual Idea is this. There is no place, for any of us as individuals, to volunteer in the military realm to do ANYTHING larger than serve our country! An American or an Indian or a Brazilian can volunteer for their OWN country’s military, to serve their OWN country’s national interest. But there is no vehicle, no place, no entity, where any of us can say I MYSELF am willing to put my life on the line to rescue innocent souls, and I MYSELF don’t care whether my country has any dog in that fight, and I MYSELF want to volunteer not just to serve my country but to serve humanity, and that I MYSELF yearn to be a world citizen soldier.