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Humanitarian Intervention

General Naumann

NATO Library

The Responsibility To Protect – humanitarian Intervention and The Use Of Military Force

by General Klaus Naumann

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Keynote Address at the 20th Annual Seminar of the Conference of Defence Associations Institute, held in Ottawa on 26 February 2004.


NATO logoIn 2001, I was invited by the Canadian Government to serve as a member of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS), an international body which, after a year of discussion and committee work, produced a report to the Secretary General of the United Nations in December 2001. This report is, in my view, a document that really deserves to be read, since it touches on some of the ‘real hot potatoes’ of international law, and it may well have triggered a debate at the end of which we may see changes in international law on various issues, such as sovereignty and the ban on intervention.

I do not want to dwell at length on legal issues, but I believe I would be remiss if I did not recall for you why this effort was launched and what the report’s basic conclusions were before I discuss the military dimension.

The Intervention Dilemma

Humanitarian intervention has been controversial, both when it happens, and when it has failed to happen. Rwanda in 1994 laid bare the full horror of inaction. The UN Secretariat and some permanent members of the Security Council knew that officials connected to the then-government were planning genocide. UN forces were present, though not in sufficient numbers at the outset, and credible strategies were available to prevent, or at least greatly mitigate, the slaughter that followed. But the Security Council refused to take the necessary action. That was a failure of international will – of civic courage – at the highest level. Its consequence was not merely a humanitarian catastrophe for Rwanda. The genocide destabilized the entire Great Lakes region and continues to do so. In the aftermath, many African peoples concluded that, for all the rhetoric about the universality of human rights, some human lives end up mattering a great deal less to the international community than others.

Canadian soldiers

DND photo IS2003-2556a by Sergeant Frank Hudec

Canadian soldiers with the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) arrive at Kabul International Airport, Afghanistan, in a CC-130 Hercules transport aircraft.

Kosovo – where intervention did take place in 1999 – concentrated attention on all the other sides of the argument. The operation raised major questions about the legitimacy of military intervention in a sovereign state. Was the cause just? Were the human rights abuses committed or threatened by the Belgrade authorities sufficiently serious to warrant outside involvement? Did those seeking secession manipulate external intervention to advance their political purposes? Were all peaceful means of resolving the conflict fully explored? Did the intervention receive appropriate authority? How could the bypassing and marginalization of the UN system, by “a coalition of the willing” acting without Security Council approval, possibly be justified? Did the way in which the intervention was carried out in fact worsen the very human rights situation it was trying to rectify? Or – against all this – was it the case that had NATO not intervened, Kosovo would have been at best the site of an ongoing, bloody and destabilizing civil war, and, at worst, the occasion for genocidal slaughter like that which occurred in Bosnia four years earlier?

The Bosnian case – in particular, the failure by the United Nations and others to prevent the massacre of thousands of civilians seeking shelter in UN “safe areas” in Srebrenica in 1995 – is another one that has had a major impact on the contemporary policy debate about intervention for human protection purposes. It raises the principle that intervention amounts to a promise to people in need: a promise cruelly betrayed. Yet another was the failure and ultimate withdrawal of the UN peace operations in Somalia in 1992-93, when an international intervention to save lives and restore order was destroyed by flawed planning, poor execution and an excessive dependence on military force.

These four cases occurred at a time when there were heightened expectations for effective collective action following the end of the Cold War. All four of them – Rwanda, Kosovo, Bosnia and Somalia – have had a profound effect on how the problem of intervention is viewed, analyzed and characterized.

The 2003 intervention in Iraq could easily be added to this list, although the rationale the American and British Governments preferred to provide had nothing to do with humanitarian reasons. But looking at Iraq’s internal situation, one could well have used humanitarian reasons, which might have made things worse for the UN.

The basic lines in the international debate have been clearly enough drawn. For some, the international community is not intervening enough; for others, it is intervening much too often. For some, the only real issue is in ensuring that coercive interventions are effective; for others, questions about legality, process and the possible misuse of precedent loom much larger. For some, the new interventions herald a new world in which human rights trump state sovereignty; for others, it ushers in a world in which big powers ride roughshod over the smaller ones, manipulating the rhetoric of humanitarianism and human rights. The controversy has laid bare basic divisions within the international community. In the interest of all those victims who suffer and die when leadership and institutions fail, it is crucial that these divisions be resolved.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan recalled the failures of the Security Council to act in Rwanda and Kosovo, and challenged the member states of the UN to “find common ground in upholding the principles of the Charter, and acting in defence of our common humanity.” He warned: “If the collective conscience of humanity ... cannot find in the United Nations its greatest tribune, there is a grave danger that it will look elsewhere for peace and for justice.” In his Millennium Report, he repeated the challenge:

“... if humanitarian intervention is, indeed, an unacceptable assault on sovereignty, how should we respond to a Rwanda, to a Srebrenica – to gross and systematic violations of human rights that offend every precept of our common humanity?”

When he established the High Level Panel in 2003, he launched another effort to find answers to an unresolved issue that (he felt) should be given priority: the sovereignty of a nation or the protection of human rights.

The members of the ICISS provided a relatively clear answer – and we attached priority to human rights. On the other hand, this Commission had no illusions that an armed intervention will rarely be seen as a humanitarian effort. We therefore decided not to use the term ‘humanitarian intervention’ any longer, and thenceforth categorized the range of actions which might be taken to protect human beings from genocide as the responsibility to protect.

Basic Findings

We saw no need to give up sovereignty as a principle, but we looked at state sovereignty as a responsibility, and concluded that the primary responsibility for the protection of its citizens lies with the state itself.

We concluded that where a population is suffering serious harm, as a result of internal war, insurgency, repression or state failure, and the state in question is unwilling or unable to halt or avert it, the principle of non-intervention yields to the international responsibility to protect. This is a dramatic departure from the interpretation of international law which prevails today throughout the world, and it could at the end of the day well mean that a state which fails to meet its responsibility to protect could no longer invoke the protection enshrined in Article II of the Charter.

Although the idea of the responsibility to protect is to some extent new, possibly revolutionary, we based it upon well-known guiding principles, such as the concept of sovereignty, the responsibility of the Security Council under Article 24 of the UN Charter for the maintenance of international peace and security, as well as specific legal obligations under human rights and human protection declarations. On the other hand, we could not leave aside the developing practices of states, regional organizations and the Security Council itself.

When we identified what the responsibility to protect entails, we saw three specific responsibilities:

  • The responsibility to prevent: to address both the root causes and direct causes of internal conflict and other man-made crises which put populations at risk.

  • The responsibility to react: to respond to situations of compelling human need with appropriate measures, which may include coercive measures, such as sanctions and international prosecution, and, in extreme cases, military intervention.

  • The responsibility to rebuild: to provide, particularly after a military intervention, full assistance with recovery, reconstruction and reconciliation, addressing the causes of the harm the intervention was designed to halt or avert.

Obviously, Prevention is the single most important dimension of the responsibility to protect. All prevention options should be exhausted before intervention is contemplated. It also goes without saying that all lesser intrusive and coercive measures should be exhausted before more coercive and intrusive ones are applied.

The last resort is a military intervention, an exceptional and extraordinary measure for human protection purposes. To be warranted, there must be serious and irreparable harm occurring to human beings, or imminently likely to occur, of the following kind:

  • large scale loss of life, actual or apprehended, with genocidal intent or not, which is the product either of deliberate state action, or state neglect or inability to act, or a failed state situation; or

  • large scale ‘ethnic cleansing’, actual or apprehended, whether carried out by killing, forced expulsion, acts of terror or rape.

In addition to the justification for such an intervention, some principles need to be heeded, such as the right of proper intention, since whatever other motives intervening states may have, the intention must be to halt or avert human suffering.

The Principle of Last Resort has already been mentioned. Military intervention can only be justified when every non-military option has been explored, with reasonable grounds for believing lesser measures would not have succeeded.

Such operations have to be proportional. For example, the scale, duration and intensity of the planned military intervention should be the minimum necessary to secure the protection objective.

Finally, there must be a reasonable chance of success in halting or averting the suffering that has justified the intervention, with the consequences of action not likely to be worse than the consequences of inaction.

Politically, the most sensitive issue is the question of the right or correct authority. The Commission unanimously agreed that there is no better or more appropriate body than the United Nations Security Council to authorize military intervention. The task is therefore not to find alternatives to the Security Council, but to make the Security Council work better than it has in the past.

We stated in our report that Security Council authorization should, in all cases, be sought prior to any military intervention being carried out. Those calling for an intervention should formally request such authorization, or have the Council raise the matter on its own initiative, or have the Secretary-General raise it under Article 99 of the UN Charter.

A reservist

DND photo IS2002-2785a by Sergeant Frank Hudec

Corporal Indira Thackorie, a reservist from 2nd Field Engineer Regiment, Toronto, replaces her glasses after chemical defence refresher training at Camp Ziouani, Golan Heights.

In the light of recent events, two other points made in the report deserve to be mentioned:

  1. The Security Council should deal promptly with any request for authority to intervene where there are allegations of large scale loss of human life or ethnic cleansing, and it should seek adequate verification of facts or conditions on the ground that might support a military intervention.

  2. The Permanent Five members of the Security Council should agree not to apply their veto power in matters where their vital state interests are not involved, to obstruct the passage of resolutions authorizing military intervention for human protection purposes for which there is otherwise majority support.

The report lists the options remaining if the Security Council rejects a proposal or fails to deal with it in a reasonable time, but this element can be left for those who wish to read the report, since the mandate I was given for this presentation was to focus upon the military aspects of such interventions.

The Military Dimension

Our world is full of instability, and, indeed, new risks and dangers, and it will undoubtedly remain so for quite some time to come. Therefore, politicians will probably have to consider military interventions as the last resort of crisis management more often than our societies generally, who are not really aware of the dangers, may wish to acknowledge the need for them. Some of these interventions will aim at keeping risks at a distance from their own territory. Others, presumably the most controversial ones, may seek to prevent the proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) or the establishment of terrorist bases. Last but not least, others may aim towards the protection of people who suffer from brutal suppression. In the worst case, such interventions may aim at the prevention of genocide or the mass killing of human beings. This latter category is often called humanitarian intervention, although this term may lead to misconceptions.

Military interventions for human protection purposes have different objectives than traditional war fighting, which is the hallmark of most interventions, and they also differ from traditional peacekeeping operations. Such interventions therefore raise a number of new, different and unique operational challenges. Because the objective of military intervention is to protect populations and not to militarily defeat or destroy an enemy, it differs from traditional war fighting. While protective intervention operations require the use of as much force as necessary – which may on occasion be a great amount – to protect the population at risk, their basic objective is always to achieve quick success with as little cost as possible in civilian lives. They must also inflict as little damage as possible, so as to enhance both recovery prospects and the chances to win the cooperation of the population in the theatre of intervention for the post-conflict phase. In war fighting interventions, by contrast, the neutralization of an opponent’s military or industrial capabilities is often the instrument needed to force surrender.

Soldier in a LAV III

DND photo IS2003-2460a by Sergeant Frank Hudec

A soldier from the 2nd Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment (2 RCR), mans a LAV III (Light Armoured Vehicle) at the Canadian camp in Kabul, Afghanistan.

On the other hand, military intervention operations – which have to do whatever it takes to meet the responsibility to protect – will have to be able and willing to engage in much more robust action than that permitted by traditional peacekeeping, where the core task is the monitoring, supervision and verification of cease fires and peace agreements, and where the emphasis has always been on consent, neutrality and the absence or non-use of force. In 2000, the Panel on United Nations Peace Operations compiled a thorough review of the operational challenges facing United Nations military missions. But for the most part, that panel focused on traditional peacekeeping and its variations, not the more robust use of military force – not least because there does not exist, within UN headquarters, the kind of logistic planning and support, and command and control capacity that would make possible either war fighting or military interventions of any significant size. This report confirmed that “the United Nations does not wage war. Where enforcement action is required, it has consistently been entrusted to coalitions of willing states.”

The context in which intervention operations take place also has important operational significance. Military intervention to protect endangered human lives should and will occur only as a last resort, after the failure of other measures to achieve satisfactory results. Inevitably, it will be part of a broader political strategy directed towards persuading the targeted state to cooperate with international efforts. Any intervention to protect will thus be preceded by a series of efforts to prevent the use of force. Some of these preventive steps may include the employment of military forces, but definitely not on the territory of a state which did not consent to the temporary stationing of foreign forces within its boundaries.

A “preventive deployment” – which involves the positioning of troops where there is an emerging threat of conflict, conducted with the consent of the government or governments concerned and for the primary purpose of deterring the escalation of a situation into armed conflict – falls into that category.

A principal example of such a deployment was the United Nations Preventive Deployment Force (UNPREDEP) in Macedonia, conducted from 1992 until its untimely withdrawal in 1999. The operational problems confronting any such deployment are essentially the same as those involved for a traditional UN peacekeeping operation.

The second category of preventive operation involves actions that may be intended as a show of force to give added weight to diplomatic initiatives, or perhaps to serve as instruments to monitor or implement non-military enforcement actions, such as sanctions and embargoes, including those conducted in humanitarian crisis situations. Such preventive military action can provide a firewall of sorts, as it may help keep a conflict in a neighbouring country from spreading. It may also help to deter trouble, and, simultaneously, it can provide a rapid response capacity, should trouble arise. As prevention may fail, such forces should be deployed and equipped in such a way that they could easily be designated as part of an intervention force.

To tell you that careful advance planning is a prerequisite for success is like ‘carrying coals to Newcastle.’ But the planning of such operations is complex and multi-faceted. There are many challenges to be surmounted, such as the need to build an effective political coalition and to work out agreed objectives. These include the articulation of a political end-state, the provision of a clear mandate, the devising of a common plan of operations, and the marshalling of the necessary resources. The military planner has to bear in mind that the intervention phase is only one element in a broader political effort.

The military intervention phase may, as mentioned earlier, be preceded by military measures, such as sanctions or embargo enforcement, preventive deployments, or no-fly-zones. The military intervention as such will likely be followed by post-conflict operations, that, in most cases, will include the deployment of peacekeeping forces, often for substantial periods of time. The planner has to keep in mind this continuum of crisis management. Accordingly, the operational concept for such an operation needs to provide a smooth transition from pre-intervention efforts to post-intervention activities.

Most interventions have, in the past, involved, and are likely to involve in the future, multinational coalition operations. The cohesion of an intervening coalition – politically and militarily – is critical to the prospects for success, and the fragility of the intervening coalition has thus been one of the most vulnerable aspects of past interventions. Coalition operations are bound to produce lasting military disadvantages, but they are partly compensated by the stronger political impact of a coalition, as compared to the operations of a single country. As the unity of the coalition is crucial, it is at the same time the Achilles Heel of any coalition, and ‘spoilers’ have, in the past, been ready to target this inherent weakness.

As you will recall, the weakness of the coalition and the failure to establish authority and to provide a secure environment have also led at times to the institution of parallel enforcement missions in the middle of a process. Examples include the Unified Task Force’s (UNITAF) arrival amidst the first UN Operation in Somalia (UNOSOM I), NATO’s insertion of a rapid-reaction and bombing capacity amidst the UN Protection Force in the Former Yugoslavia (UNPROFOR), and, more recently, the British Army’s presence in Sierra Leone.

Effective coalition-building means creating and maintaining a common political resolve, and working out a common military approach. In particular, enforcement actions have to take into account the politics of participating states and the impact of the media. The NATO intervention in Kosovo demonstrated that the pace and intensity of military operations may be seriously affected by the lowest common political denominator among member states. Moreover, coalition warfare entails other restrictions on military conduct and political decision-making that result from differing national legislation.

Moreover, coalition operations entail the risk that different militaries will act independently and without coordination. If this occurs, the result will likely be failure. This risk is higher today than it was in the days of the Kosovo operation. What was then the public decision with respect to ruling in or out the use of ground troops may today be differences that are the result of the conceptual as well as the capabilities gap existing among nations within NATO.

The first, and, in my view, the most important step to mitigate, if not to overcome such differences, is to agree on the objectives to be achieved through the intervention action.

Ideally, the process of making a decision to intervene, the formulation of the mandate and the allocation of structures and means for implementation should be related. But harmonizing the views and interests of differing states in each regard is often a protracted and complex undertaking. Moreover, multilateral decision-making bodies require consensus to succeed, and vagueness and incrementalism, rather than specificity, are inevitable outcomes of multilateral deliberations, during which the limits and boundaries of intervention may become significantly obscured in order to secure agreement about an authorization. There is little to no hope of totally overcoming these handicaps, but there is every reason to make the best effort to reduce the vagueness and to replace it with clarity.

This is particularly true for the end-state which drives the “exit strategy.” Some partners will emphasize the need to address the underlying problems, while others will focus on the earliest possible withdrawal. How an intervention will ultimately play out is always hard to determine. Unexpected challenges are almost certain to arise, and the results are almost always different from what was envisaged at the outset. In addition, many military operations begin with fairly simple and straightforward goals, only to have them expanded to the pursuit of military, political, and developmental objectives as operational circumstances change, or as new peace agreements and deals are struck. Yet, ‘mission creep’ has been the rule, not the exception. This uncertainty is what drives some intervening countries and their armed forces to define an exit strategy in terms of an arbitrary withdrawal date.

A clear and unambiguous mandate is one of the first and most important requirements of an operation designed to protect. However well or ill-defined the end-state of intervention, political vision should encompass what it will take to get there – conceptually as well as in terms of resources. Without such calculations from the outset, the problem of mustering sufficient “political will” to see the intervention through to a successful conclusion will exist.

The objective of the mandate should be to allow the executing military commander to identify his mission and his tasks properly, and to propose an operational concept which promises quick success – paramount for an operation that aims at the protection of humans under attack. This will allow the commander to propose the size and composition of the necessary forces and to draft appropriate Rules of Engagement (ROEs), and to ask for political authorization and the allocation of the resources necessary to mount and to sustain the operation. The mandate should therefore define in clear language what the aims of the intervention in its different phases will be, and it should clearly stipulate that the desired end-state is the restoration of good governance and the rule of law.

Here, I should remind you that the best planning is doomed to fail unless sufficient resources are allocated to conduct and to sustain the operation. The level of resources committed sends a clear signal of resolve and intent to all concerned, and it may thus be the last instrument to be used in an attempt to avoid an armed conflict. It should also indicate to the opponent that the intervening side is able to escalate to any required level of combat intensity.

Turning to the actual conduct of operations, I should begin with command and control. We all know that clear and unequivocal communications and chains of command, as well as unity of command, are essential for the successful conduct of operations. They are best achieved if there is a single chain of integrated command and if nations are prepared to transfer, to the fullest extent possible, the authority over their contributed forces to the force commander they appointed to execute the intervention. However, the differing national interests, and the legal differences which exist due to different national laws, will never allow transferring full authority to the officer charged to conduct the intervention operation, and they will result in limitations with respect to the use of deadly force. That said, the fewer the national reservations about the employment of the national contingents in such an operation that exist, the greater is the capacity of the force commander to act decisively and flexibly.

This brings me to political control. Tight political control of such operations is mandatory, but political control does not mean ‘micro-management’ of military operations by political authorities. Political leaders need to set clear objectives for each phase, within defined operational parameters. Military commanders should carry out these objectives, seeking further guidance when the objectives have been completed, or when significant new challenges arise.

Political guidance may be most needed with respect to civil-military relations. The intervening military forces, civilian authorities, both local and external, and humanitarian organizations are likely to be working side-by-side to bring assistance and protection to populations at risk. No magic solution has been found thus far for coordination and collaboration between military forces, political civilian authorities, and humanitarian agencies. Often, the result has been little more than trying to minimize ‘turf wars.’

Solder with children

DND photo IS2004-2094a by Sergeant Frank Hudec

Canadian troops are in Afghanistan as part of Operation ATHENA, Canada’s contribution to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), in Kabul.

Much of what I have said so far will be laid down in a particular operation’s codified Rules of Engagement. They are critical to responding and protecting populations at risk. They guide the application of the use of force by soldiers in the theatre of interventions. The Rules of Engagement must fit the operational concept and be appropriate for the type of military action that is anticipated. The use of only minimal force in self-defence that characterizes traditional peacekeeping will clearly be inappropriate and inadequate. Activities such as arresting criminals (either those apprehended ‘in the streets’ or indicted war criminals), halting abuse, and deterring would-be killers and thugs, require clear and robust Rules of Engagement. Precise rules can help to diminish the need for individual countries to issue additional clarifications – something that can be a significant impediment to the conduct of multinational operations.

The Rules of Engagement should also reflect the principle of proportionality. Proportionality in this context ought not to exclude the option to escalate as appropriate, but should emphasize wherever possible restraint in the use of the destructive power of modern weaponry. Proportionality should also not have the effect of paralyzing military forces on the ground, or trapping them into a purely reactive mode, denying them the opportunity to seize the initiative when this is appropriate.

In the context of interventions undertaken for human protection purposes, the Rules of Engagement for a military intervention must reflect a stringent observance of international law in general, and international humanitarian law in particular. They should include an acknowledgement that certain types of arms, particularly those which are banned under international agreements, may not be used.

General Naumann

NATO Library

Probably the most difficult issue for the military is the reconciliation of the Principles of War with operations that aim for the protection of human life. Quick success in military operations can best be achieved by surprise, by applying overwhelming force, and through the concentration of all military efforts. However, in the context of an intervention for human protection purposes, it will be virtually impossible to rely on secrecy and surprise or to make maximum use of the full and devastating power of modern weapons. Achieving surprise at the strategic level must be balanced against the value and need to try to persuade the target state to comply before resorting to force is required. Moreover, democratic societies that are sensitive to human rights and the rule of law will not long tolerate the pervasive use of overwhelming military power.

Military planners may wish to compensate for the lost option of strategic surprise by resorting to a concentrated use of military power. Political circumstances and conditions on the ground may or may not permit this to occur. A critical factor that will impact on the intensity of operations is the need for cooperation from the civilian population once the immediate objective of stopping the killing or ethnic cleansing has been achieved. This means, first and foremost, the requirement not to conduct military actions that will result in widespread hatred against the intervening nations. To win the ‘hearts and minds’ of people under attack is presumably impossible, but planning has to be done in such a way that not all doors will be closed when the armed conflict comes to an end. This means accepting limitations and demonstrating through the use of restraint that the operation is not a war to defeat a state, but an operation to protect populations in that state from being harassed, persecuted or killed. This also means accepting some incrementalism as far as the intensity of operations is concerned, and some gradualism with regard to the phases of an operation and the selection of targets. Such an approach may also be politically required in order to keep the coalition together. Obviously, this is a clear violation of the Principles of War that we learned and taught at war academies, but, after all, in this context we are discussing operations other than war.

Military operations can never be conducted without incurring casualties on both sides. Politicians who decide upon the use of force must understand that, and they have to impart that message to their citizens. The soldiers, sailors and airmen who advise politicians are duty bound to tell them with utmost clarity that la guerre sans morts is, and will remain, an illusion. They should also tell their political masters that force protection of the intervening forces should never be allowed to become the principal objective of the operation.

A new area of reflection is the military and the media. The omnipresent media and the worldwide near-real-time coverage of military operations will expose anyone who uses overwhelming military power too excessively to worldwide criticism. In operations other than self-defence, such use of military power will reduce the degree of public support for military operations – which is the more needed the less the average ‘man on the street’ understands why his country was required to intervene. Modern communications and media coverage have an impact on enforcement of operations in that there is a new capacity for the public to monitor the impact of military action on civilians. Enforcement is likely to receive widespread public support if deadly force is applied in a way that can, if not fully approved, at least be tolerated by the majority of the populations in the countries of a coalition. Therefore, operational planning for an operation to protect should contain a fairly detailed sub-concept for public information. It is not only critical to maintaining public support for an intervention, but also to maintaining the cohesion of the coalition. The difficulty in designing this concept will be to reconcile the requirements of accurate, comprehensive and timely information with the necessities of operational security.

The easier part in such operations may increasingly be to force the opponent into surrender. However, to win the ‘hearts and minds’ of the people who were supposed to be saved or liberated through the intervention may turn out to be more demanding than the actual fighting.

The mission of military forces in post-intervention operations is to provide a safe environment necessary for the restoration of good governance and the rule of law. Additionally, military forces may have to assist in reconstruction in areas that are too dangerous for non-military personnel to enter. The conduct of such operations often means that the forces will increasingly have to do what under normal circumstances police would do – at least at the outset. In addition, the forces have to be prepared to enforce compliance, and, if necessary, to defend the country they have invaded.

These tasks are normally more complex and cover a wider range than combat operations. Moreover, the chain of command will be increasingly blurred, although the need for clear-cut responsibilities and a transition of responsibility from the military authorities to the civilian authorities, as soon as possible after hostilities have ceased has never been greater. While it may be necessary for a short period immediately after hostilities have ceased for the military commander to assume complete administrative authority, the transition to civilian authority should take place with minimum delay. Again, psychology plays an important role. The intervening side has to signal with utmost clarity that it will see the intervention through, which means it will remain engaged until self-sustained stability has been achieved.

Past experience demonstrates that, if the internal security challenge is not handled early, ‘old’ habits and structures will prevail and undermine other efforts to enhance post-conflict peace building. The immediate aftermath of any civil war spawns organized crime, revenge attacks, arms proliferation, looting and theft. United Nations civilian police officers, deployed alongside peacekeepers in order to assist in the resuscitation of national law enforcement agencies, have not been equipped to address the issue of law enforcement in a ‘not crime-not war’ environment. The military has remained the only viable instrument.

In summary, the responsibility to protect means that human protection operations will differ from both the traditional operational concepts for waging war and from UN peacekeeping operations. In 2001, our Commission recommended the embodiment of the principles laid out in its report in a “Doctrine for Human Protection Operations.” I am convinced that this is still valid advice.

Finally, I feel I would be remiss did I not briefly address what the consequences of such an approach towards interventions to protect would mean for NATO and the armed forces of the NATO nations.

Starting with NATO, I have to say that I do not side with those who trumpet that NATO has recovered from the wounds it received during the disastrous year of 2003. I see two reasons for this point of view. First, there are still many, perhaps too many, in the United States who believe that the alliance should be a ‘tool box’ from which its leading nation can choose and pick allies to form ‘coalitions of the willing.’ To this end, some of our American allies urge the development of niche capabilities, while others argue in favour of a division of labour in which the Americans fight and the allies do the sustainment and nation-building operations. Secondly, although NATO decided that it will take on the challenges of the 21st Century and it will act where necessary, be it inside or outside the NATO Treaty Area, not too much has been achieved in acquiring the matching capabilities as laid out in the Partnership Coordination Cell (PCC). Well, the NATO Response Force (NRF) has been established, but whether it will achieve a full operational capability (FOC) by 2006 is still a very open question.

NATO thus appears to be handicapped at a time of unprecedented challenges, as does the UN and the European Union (EU). But the strategic situation of the world does not tolerate handicapped organizations. It calls for organizations that are able to take pre-emptive as well as preventive military action, along with interventions to protect. The main reason for this gloomy outlook is the reality that legitimate national governments have lost their monopoly on the use of force, while determined individuals and groups of individuals, referred to as non-state actors, can lay their hands on weapons with which they can inflict huge, even irreversible damage to entire societies. In addition, rogue states, non-state actors, be they terrorists, criminals or actors who have taken control of failing states, may get access to Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) or acquire options for waging cyber war. Moreover, the proliferation of missile technology and that for WMDs appears to be on the increase.

The advent of non-state actors, of WMDs and of cyber war constitute a dramatic change in the international situation, and prove that international law, including the provisions of the UN Charter, simply does not match today’s situations. Nor does the old demarcation between peace enforcement and peacekeeping. The new global situation also proves that no country should concentrate on one of these two approaches exclusively. The continuum of crisis management that I mentioned earlier speaks against such an approach, as does the necessity to understand what forces need to do when they are tasked with a mission to either protect or to maintain the peace.


DND photo VK2003-0104-08 by Master Corporal Roxanne Clowe

A child at the Sestanovac School in Velika Kladusa, Bosnia. received a ‘twin’ bear from soldiers of the National Support Element.

Should politicians decide to resort to the use of military force, then execution at the battalion level will, in most cases, entail combat. The differentiation I made earlier, when I addressed interventions to protect, will not be felt as decisively at the unit level as it will at the level of various headquarters and ministries. And fighting in our time will range from distant engagement in cyberspace, to fighting tribal warriors man-to-man, from ‘soft kills’ through ‘hard kills’ of materiel and infrastructure, to killing human beings in close combat.

Everyone understands that fighting will determine intervention operations, which I would prefer to call enforcement operations, but not too many understand that interventions will more-or-less smoothly transit into post-conflict stabilization operations. Peace enforcement is the ‘sharp end’ of a continuum of military operations, that begin when first efforts are made to prevent an armed conflict. They peak during the peace enforcement intervention and they continue at varying degrees of intensity throughout the post-conflict phase, until the time comes to hand over responsibility to indigenous forces or UN-mandated police forces. It is important to note that this continuum of operations characterizes crisis management. Nations that wish to be fully fledged players have to be capable of conducting this entire continuum of operations. Nations that are not capable of doing so will have less influence on a decision to intervene. The formula “the US fight, the UN feed and the EU fund” or similar arrangements, are therefore hardly acceptable to any nation that wishes to be a player. Most importantly, however, the threats nations will have to cope with in the future do not allow for seeing peace enforcement and peacekeeping as alternatives. They are ingredients of the continuum of crisis management and conflict prevention. Moreover, military experience suggests that those who are trained to fight can be prepared relatively easily for peacekeeping operations.

In conclusion, I should say that interventions to protect will indeed require a deeper and better operational understanding by all concerned. At the end of the day, they should be seen by the people whom we wish to protect as assistance to them. This will impact on planning, on ROEs, and, to some extent, on execution, but not too much on the way in which a battalion or a squadron will fundamentally fight. Moreover, one should always keep in mind that intervention as well as peacekeeping forces must be able to escalate the intensity of conflict in order to prevail. This means that nations are best prepared to meet the challenges the future will bring if they have trained and equipped their armed forces for high intensity operations in a network-centric operation. This will secure political influence in an alliance such as NATO, as well as in Washington, and it will lead to some degree of interoperability in NATO that, in my view, will remain the option of choice in crisis management situations when common interests of the North American and European nations are at risk.

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