Resolved: United Nations peacekeepers should have the power to engage in offensive operations.

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Resolved:United Nations peacekeepers should have the power to engage in offensive operations.

I don’t even know what to say anymore. This is a sorely misguided topic. The UN regularly conducts offensive operations. The “peacekeeping” forces also regularly conduct offensive activities to carry out their duties. The symbolic code of engagement which theoretically prevents them from doing so is just that, a symbolic code. While their express mission is to “keep the peace,” the reality on the ground is never that simple, as anyone who has served in the armed forces will attest. Not only that, this is such an absurdly broad topic that there’s no way to actually debate it. What sort of situation would merit an offensive operation? What restrictions would there be on that operation? Is the resolution saying that the U.N. should basically have an independent military force called the peacekeepers? I hate this topic. It sucks in every way.

Definitions

U.N. Peacekeepers – The U.N. has a peacekeeping force that is sent into conflict areas. This force often delivers aid, oversees compliance with U.N. directives, and generally tries to maintain peace in the region

Power – I’m not sure what it means for a U.N. force to have the power to do something. Does this mean their rules of engagement should be changed? Does this mean they need security council approval to carry out the operation? Or does this mean they should be allowed to act independently as they see fit? I mean, technically, they have the power now since they have guns and such. This is one of the many reasons this topic is awful.

Offensive Operations – This is also unclear. An offensive operation is clearly one that is not carried out in self-defense, but there can be many different types of offensive operations. Would the invasion of a country be an offensive operation covered under the resolution? What about attacking encampments? In order for an operation to be defensive, technically there has to be an “enemy.” Who defines the enemy? Or should the peacekeepers be allowed to attack who they see fit? Is simply delivering aid to a region an offensive operation against the oppressive side?

Case Positions

Pro

1. Military peacekeeping requires offense – Defensive measures will never maintain peace. True peace requires the aggressor to be defeated. Therefore, in order to truly carry out their directive, U.N. peacekeepers should have the power to carry out offensive operations.

2. Preemptive attacks – In order to be most effective in protecting themselves, peacekeepers must be able to preemptively strike. Currently, they must wait until they are attacked (even though they really don’t have to) in order to defend themselves. If the attacks could be prevented in the first place, everyday

Con

1. Abuse of Power – U.N. peacekeepers are not a military force and should not be allowed to be one. The U.N., effectively ruled by the five nations on the security council, should not have a military which carry out offensive operations. That opens the door to vast potential for abuses of power.

2. Peacekeeping Mission – Conducting offensive operations takes away resources and attention from other peacekeeping operations like providing aid. Even though the directive of the peacekeepers would change, the resources available to them would not. Sacrificing vital operations for the sake of offensive ones is not an appropriate direction to go.

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54 responses to “Resolved: United Nations peacekeepers should have the power to engage in offensive operations.

  1. I believe that United Nations peacekeepers should not have the power to take offensive action. This would violate the three most basic principles of UN peacekeeping (see UN.org). Also, is the purpose of a peacekeeper not to restore peace? As in end fighting? Why should we change the purpose of a peacekeeper when we have a military that does the same thing? Thank you.

    • How effective are peacekeepers when they’re not allowing to conduct offensive operations? If it was more effective the create peace through conflict, should we do that?

      • If we need to conduct offensive operations, we should send in military personel. Peacekeepers are stationed to cease fighting, not initiate it.

      • What if the only way to stop the fighting is to stop the side that’s creating the conflict? They will just keep attacking until stopped. Also, why send in additional military personnel when peacekeepers are already there and can do the same things?

      • Peacekeepers are trained not to fight, but to end fighting. Would it really be fair to put peacekeepers up against trained fighters? Why not send in soldiers who are much better trained in the art of war? Peacekeeping is a very different skill than fighting- in fact, almost polar opposites. One is meant to end fighting; the other is trained to initiate it. Overall, military personnel would be much more effective than peacekeepers. The purpose of the UN is to promote cooperation, not war.

      • If the UN was effective at ending conflict through offensive operations, then maybe that reasoning would stand. But look at what few offensive operations the United Nations has taken part of. Korea, in where the country is still today divided with one part a complete dictatorship and violating all sorts of human rights. The Middle East interventions in the 1990s, which did nothing but increase hatred in terrorist groups. These are the terrorist groups which caused 9/11 and created ISIS. Logically, the UN wouldn’t have a strong military force simply because they don’t have funds to allocate to a military, like a country would.

      • The UN has taken part in a lot more offensive operations than that, many of which have been successful. That being said, the argument is that the operations you mentioned were not fully offensive. They were carried out without the full scale of a true offensive operation and were instead defensive measures, particularly the interventions in the Middle East.

      • I just want y’all to know that over 85% of peacekeepers have military experience, so they do have training…

      • To be completely honest, the only difference between offensive operations in say Bosnia and Somalia and the operation today in Congo is the official title the UN gives them. And yes, I concede that these operations may have started out defensive, but they ultimately became offensive operations that still yielded no results. Also, could you give me the examples of successful offensive operations? And to reply to Red’s comment, the U.S. dedicates approximately 526.6 billion dollars to defense, according to White House documents. According to the HM Treasury, the UK spent 38 billion pounds, approximately 58 billion dollars, in fiscal year 2014 for defense and military. The UN Peacekeepers assert that the TOTAL amount of money they are budgeting for year 2015 is 7.06 billion dollars. I’m not necessarily asserting that these military personnel are incompetent, but if they are as trained as a US or UK military official then they are severely outnumbered due to lack of budget, which seems to be the case here. It seems logical why these UN offensive operations are so unsuccessful in obtaining peace.

      • Dana there are a lot of issues with your analysis. First, the difference between operations in Bosnia, Somalia, and Congo are much more than just the designation. The way they were carried out, their intent, and the military force provided were all different. Second, all three operations yielded results. Whether you consider those results as successful is up for debate. Please see the comments above for potential examples of successful offensive operations.

        Your funding numbers are also incorrect and misinterpreted. The U.S. defense budget is closer $800 billion, all things considered, which is more than the next 20 highest defense spending countries combined. The UN peacekeeping force’s low budget is not due to its incompetence, and it’s small size is not due to its low budget. You have to remember that peacekeepers are donated from member nations; the UN doesn’t have a standing military. You cannot expect the US to donate an amount comparable to what it spends on its own defense. That doesn’t make sense. Peacekeepers are not incompetent, and that’s not the point of the resolution either. The reason they haven’t been successful is because member nations do not agree on interventions and because their directives have been unclear, but then again, that’s what you’re here to debate.

        Take a step back, and don’t make so many assumptions.

      • Okay, I am thoroughly confused. I thought that the only authorized offensive operations were in the DRC. Have I been misinformed?

      • The key word is “authorized.” If you read the post, I point out that the UN has carried out offensive operations on many different occasions, which is part of the reason I hate this resolution. To pretend like the UN doesn’t have de facto authority to do so is not accurate. But yes, there have been many offensive operations, not just in the DRC.

  2. I find the real question here is: “Should we have peacekeepers not only attempt to create peace, but also fight if necessary, or should we send in military units to fight if necessary?” It brings the perspective of the fact that peacekeepers were, in fact, to keep peace. If we want to resolve conflict through “offensive operation,” then shouldn’t we use forces trained to conduct previously mentioned operations?

    • I don’t think the question is and “either or” dilemma. Peacekeepers are soldiers, and they are trained as such. Their directive just isn’t to engage in offensive combat. The resolution doesn’t say we’d be sending in soldiers instead; it just poses the question of whether or not peacekeepers should have the same powers as a military force.

  3. We seem to forget the art of war. War is the act of armed conflict between two or more states (they own land). The United Nations is an organization, they do not own land. So if they do not own land, why should they have the power to act in offensive operations? They don’t. UN soldiers are peacekeepers, not peacemakers.

  4. I have a Debate tournament this weekend. I was wondering if you had another warrant for the CON part of the case.

    • Hi Tore,

      What is the specific contention or argument you’re trying to warrant? Remember that evidence is used to support arguments, not make them for you.

  5. do you think a good con argument is not that offensive operations are bad, but that the UN shouldn’t specifically be the one to use them? it still follows the resolution

    • Yes, that is an argument you can make. Although, I think it’s tougher to defend unilateral action than a combined international effort.

  6. Are there any examples where the UN peacekeepers have succeeded with using offensive operations? (Other than the republic of Congo)

    • It depends on your definition of success. Sierra Leone is a good example. Many areas in the Balkans can be used as examples. But remember, these are all debatable; that’s kind of the purpose of this resolution.

      • Thanks, I was just needed something to help start my research for my case, I lost my quarterfinal round because I didn’t show a successful mission using offensive operations

    • To start, your question assumes there’s an absolute answer. The point of a debate resolution is to argue something, meaning that abuses of power may or may not happen. The argument would be that more power results in more abuses. Things we’ve seen in the past are trading food for sexual slavers, abusing local citizens, taking bribes, etc…. More of the same types of things, and in increasing severity, could happen with the increased power that comes with offensive operations.

      • How would allowing offensive operations increase these things? Do you have evidence that it will? (I’m not trying to be a jerk, it’s just that I’ve been asked these things in CX.) 😀

      • Well, you shouldn’t be running the argument if you can’t answer those questions 😛 You should explain that in your case. The argument is that increased power increases abuse of that power. The Stanford prison experiments demonstrate that people become corrupt and abusive when given power over others. So, if UN peacekeepers are given more power, they will become abusive. I’ll leave it to you to actually do the research and find the psychological evidence.

  7. Don’t you think that that giving peacekeepers the power to conduct offensive operations is controversial? After all, it undermines their basic principle of impartiality. Wouldn’t it be better to have military organizations such as NATO conduct these operations? Countries have helped other countries in the past, so the military of another country is another alternative.

    • Yes, it is controversial, hence the debate 🙂 The question regarding impartiality is really whether or not impartiality is a good thing. Should peacekeepers really be impartial in a situation like genocide? There’s clearly a correct side to take in that situation, isn’t there?

      • I agree that there is a correct side to take, but why involve the peacekeepers in offensive operations when there are militaries as an alternative? Are their any downsides to using military personnel instead?

      • I agree that there is a correct side to take in the case of a genocide, but why involve peacekeepers in offensive operations? Why not send in military personnel? Are there any downsides to doing so?

      • Unilateral action hasn’t historically been effective, and relying on individual countries to do humanitarian things is a tough proposition to defend since they typically won’t do anything unless it’s in their self interest.

      • Unilateral intervention has actually been effective in the past. Why does it matter if a country is helping another in its own self interests? The receiver of the help is still benefited. Can you elaborate on the downsides of military action? (I’m afraid my opponents will use this argument)

      • You can’t just say it has been effective, you need to provide examples. Unilateral intervention has pretty much universally failed. East Timor, Afghanistan, Iraq, Cuba, Bosnia, and many others have all been failures. There are several problems with unilateral action. It lacks legitimacy. A self interest motivation means that humanitarian outcomes don’t matter, so they inevitably aren’t achieved. It makes people in the world unequal, because only those who have oil, for example, become worthy of help.

    • Forget about conflict we need peace to live and we need to end the conflict so lets go out and destroy the conflict!!!

  8. Did you know that the Apocalypse is just as important as the peacekeepers being allowed to make offensive strike. How would you like it if a zombie came knocking at your door. Then you would be dead, just as you will if we don’t stop this war.!!!

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