chapter  9
31 Pages

Africa I: decolonization and contested legitimacy

The extremes of success and failure in peacekeeping have nowhere been as sharply illustrated as in sub-Saharan Africa. We have already had a sense of how wide the spectrum of performance and outcomes can be in a single operation: that in the Congo between 1960 and 1964, which we explored in Chapter 5. The subsequent record, from the late 1980s onwards, has embraced great successes (for example in Namibia and Mozambique) and some of the worst peacekeeping disasters (as in Somalia and Rwanda). This contrasting record has been due to the particular character of most of the conflicts to which peacekeeping has responded in Africa. The classic Hammarskjöldian model has been a rarity in the continent. The inapplicability of the inter-state buffer form of peacekeeping to African realities was evident from the outset of African peacekeeping in the Congo. There, post-Suez confidence in the potential of peacekeeping for the management of crises on the political perimeter of the cold war system was tested to breaking point as, one by one, the tenets of the original model were found wanting.