The principle of non-use of force except in self-defence is central to the concept of UN peacekeeping.
But its application has at times given rise to serious difficulties and controversy. The determination of whether – and when – force should be used is possibly the most difficult decision a peacekeeping operation can face. F.T. Liu recounts how this principle was formulated and analyzes problems that UN peacekeeping operations have encountered in its implementation. He notes that many of these problems arose because of the rivalry between the two superpowers, as well as the weakness of the Security Council, during the Cold War; with the end of the Cold War, though, and the resurgence of the Council, it is possible to make peacekeeping operations more effective, without altering the non-use-of-force principle. Liu proposes, among other actions, the establishment of two-tier peacekeeping forces with the participation of the major powers, thus enabling the UN to play a more useful role in the Middle East, in Cambodia, and in complex civil war situations as in Yugoslavia and Somalia.
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