The United Nations is vital to keeping peace in the world. However, recent conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo leaves question as to whether or not it is a good thing for United Nations peacekeepers to have the ability to carry out offensive operations. There are several benefits and several harms to giving the UN this amount of power.
The benefits of granting the UN the ability to be offensive have already been seen in the Congo. The peacekeepers were able to push the M23 rebels out of major cities and strike a peace agreement. At its best, this is what offensive peacekeeping is able to accomplish. There’s also the ability for the contemporary deterrence theory to come into play, meaning that the UN won’t even need to use their capabilities in order to deter would-be belligerents.
After the genocide in Bosnia, the UN itself called for allowing offensive capabilities. They believe that they would better be suited to protect and maintain peaceful conditions if they were able to be preemptively offensive.
The problems with allowing for offensive operations start at the core of UN peacekeeping. The UN charter states that all peacekeeping missions must have consent of the host nation, impartiality, and may only act offensive in self-defense. Offensive operations would allow the UN to violate these founding principles. UN peacekeeping with offensive capabilities is essentially no longer considered peacekeeping by standards set up in the UN charter.
Another problem with allowing offensive capabilities is that it opens a slippery slope for UN corruption. Because of the pursuant to Section 29 of the Convention on the Privileges, the UN is immune to being sued in international court. This is to say that there would be an organization that could invade any country it pleases, to impose any ideals it wants, without being able to be brought to justice in international court.
Giving the UN offensive capabilities has both benefits and harms. The global community needs to self-reflect and decide whether or not allowing offensive operations is going to benefit the welfare of the world.