Peacekeeping intelligence: Emerging Concepts for the Future Chapter 14—Hugh Smith, ‘Intelligence and un peacekeeping’ s 26/3 (Aut ‘94)

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Prospects and Pressures

It is apparent that any development of UN intelligence will be heavily shaped by a small group of Western nations. They, almost exclusively, have the knowledge, experience and global reach that is required. In the UN Situation Centre, for example, 17 of the 24 staff were drawn from Western Europe, North America and Australia and generally occupied the senior positions. Procedures in the Centre are based on Western practice, while English is spoken and used for all written reports. Any extension of the use of technology in intelligence gathering for the UN, moreover, would only reinforce the dominance of Western powers, both practically and symbolically.38

Such developments will serve to emphasise the hegemony of the major Western powers, in terms not of military power, but of information. Substantial reliance on Western intelligence by the UN could well produce an adverse reaction from the majority of its members outside the club. It is already a common complaint among Third-World nations that they provide the majority of peacekeeping personnel, but play relative1y little part in the direction and management of peacekeeping operations. These complaints will only grow louder if the UN increases its reliance on Western powers for intelligence. The reality is, however, that it may have little other option.
The deve1opment of an intelligence function by the UN, if it is to occur at all, will have to observe these and other political constraints. It is not a matter primarily of financial and personnel resources, much less of technology. Nor will the future of intelligence in UN peacekeeping operations be determined by bureaucratic pressures, favourable as they may be, or by the growing desire for intelligence by the UN leadership. Nor will the domination of particular powers in itself produce an intelligence capacity. In the final analysis, it will be a matter of politics. The principal determinant will be the role of the UN relative to the interests of its members and the commitment members are prepared to make to the organisation.
Nonetheless, it might be supposed that intelligence could have a certain life of its own. States are losing control over the creation and transfer of information, just as they have lost, to some degree, their monopoly over the means of violence and their ability to regulate national economies. If we are entering the ‘information age’, greater opportunities may exist in the future for the UN to enhance its influence through peacekeeping, and other activities, by controlling and managing intelligence.

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