Cover image for Soldiers of diplomacy : the United Nations, peacekeeping, and the new world order
Soldiers of diplomacy : the United Nations, peacekeeping, and the new world order
Coulon, Jocelyn.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Casques bleus. English
Publication Information:
Toronto ; Buffalo : University of Toronto Press, [1998]

Physical Description:
xi, 231 pages ; 24 cm
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Geographic Term:
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JZ6374 .C6813 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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United Nations peacekeeping troops, or 'Blue Helmets,' were first deployed in 1956 to oversee the withdrawal of French, British, and Israeli forces from the Suez Canal. Canadian Lester B. Pearson was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize the following year for proposing this solution to the Suez crisis. Now forty years later, United Nations peacekeepers play a very different role from that of Pearson's lightly armed 'soldier-diplomats.' In June 1997, there were only seven UN missions in which the Blue Helmets were acting as true peacekeepers; another ten missions placed the Blue Helmets in civil conflicts where their roles ranged from evacuating threatened groups to organizing elections, and their tasks were much more dangerous.

Jocelyn Coulon draws his experiences visiting nine peacekeeping missions, including Cambodia, Bosnia, and Somalia, at a pivotal point in UN history, when the UN troops were increasingly acting as warriors of a new world order. He raises important questions: How can the UN distinguish its objectives from the interests of the great powers? Could - and should - the UN maintain an independent army? How can the pitfalls encountered by the peacekeepers in Somalia and Bosnia be avoided? Finally, Coulon urges a return to the original, though less spectacular, role of the UN soldiers: keeping the peace where peace is really the goal of the parties involved.

Soldiers of Diplomacy was first published in French in 1994; this new English edition has been updated to reflect recent events. The result of interviews with dozens of soldiers, officers, and officials involved in peacekeeping activities, it is a unique and thought-provoking investigation of UN peacekeeping.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Coulon's monograph, an updated and translated version of a work first published in French five years ago, details the evolving role of United Nations peacekeeping since the end of the Cold War. Its primary strengths are its unique and original source material, drawn from extensive 1993 interviews with mission participants at all levels from twelve countries and seven peacekeeping missions. These interview data render the work not only insightful and analytic but also quite a pleasure to read, since so many of the arguments are supported with anecdotal illustrations. Structurally, the book provides a brief history of UN peacekeeping missions during the Cold War period, before proceeding to its main focus--detailed case studies of recent UN operations in Cambodia, Western Sahara, Somalia, and Bosnia. The concluding chapters tackle larger issues such as the pursuit of UN versus great power interests, the debate over a standing UN peacekeeping army, and the lessons to be learned from recent peacekeeping challenges and failures. Useful appendixes chart UN peacekeeping missions through late 1994 and provide the text of relevant sections of the UN Charter. Recommended for all levels. W. W. Newmann; Virginia Commonwealth University