Semester a 2014/2015 3 Credit Open Elective

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The Law and Practice of International Peacekeeping

Professor Elizabeth Ann Griffin

Semester A
3 Credit Open Elective

Part I

Course Title: The Law and Practice of International Peacekeeping
Course Code:
Course Duration: One Semester
Number of credits: Four
Level: Open Elective
Medium of Instruction: English
Prerequisites: Students should have studied international law
Key Words: Peacekeeping Operations; Public International Law; United Nations; International Organisations; Non State Actors; Accountability

PART II: Course Description
Course Description

This course examines the law and practice of international peacekeeping operations. The focus is on United Nations (UN) peacekeeping operations, however, some attention will be paid to regional operations. The course commences with an examination of the legal basis of peacekeeping operations under the UN Charter and UN Security Council (SC) peacekeeping mandates. UN SC mandates provide the legal framework for peacekeeping operations and translate into specific guidelines, rules of engagement and mandated tasks for the various actors (civilian, military and police) serving in peacekeeping operations.
The course then turns to examine the functions and legal status of various actors and entities in peacekeeping operations. We learn about the mesh of legal provisions that provide protections, privileges and immunities and regulate the presence of peacekeepers in the host state. The course then turns to examine the relevance and applicability of various bodies of public international law (PIL) to different actors and situations in peacekeeping operations (e.g. international humanitarian law, international human rights law and international criminal law). Throughout the course legal issues will be examined through the lens of case studies of peacekeeping operations, both past and present.
Course Aims

The aim of this course is to provide students with an in-depth understanding of:

  • The law and practice of international peacekeeping, through the lens of case studies of past and present operations

  • The legal framework of peacekeeping operations - that is, applicable domestic laws, general international law and relevant branches, including international human rights law, international criminal law and international humanitarian law

  • Different types of peacekeeping mandates (i.e. Chapter VI, Chapter VII and Chapter VIII) prescribed by the UN SC and the translation of mandates into rules of engagement and functions for various actors in peacekeeping operations

  • The practical challenges faced by military, civilian and police and other actors in peacekeeping operations

  • The status, privileges, immunities and protections of military, civilians and police peacekeepers in the host state

  • The accountability of peacekeepers for misconduct and violations of domestic and international law

Intended Learning Outcomes
By the end of the course students should be able to:

  • Fully understand the web of domestic and international legal provisions that together make up what Professor Griffin calls “the Law of International Peacekeeping”

  • Apply relevant provisions of international and domestic law to complex problems faced by peacekeepers on the ground through the lens of real life case studies and “hot topics”

  • Understand the range of tasks carried out by different actors (civilian, military, police and others) in peacekeeping operations and the real challenges that arise on the ground when attempting to execute mandates

  • Be fully aware of the often impossible life and death choices faced by peacekeeping personnel on the ground

  • Identify why some peacekeeping operations have failed and identify lessons learnt from failed operations and what could be done to make peacekeeping more effective

  • Identify successful peacekeeping operations and/or situations where peacekeepers have managed to contribute to the maintenance of peace and security

  • Be in a position to advise governments, the UN, police and military forces on the law governing peacekeeping operations

Course Assessment

This course will be assessed by way of:

  • Internal Assessment: Presentation of peacekeeping mission and written submitted write up of the presentation for assessment (30%)

  • A final take home exam (70%)

Class Presentation and Submission of a Peacekeeping Mission Outline

Students are expected to give a presentation about one UN peacekeeping operation during the semester. The peacekeeping missions and dates for each student presentation will be allocated during the first week of the course. Students must submit a two-page overview of their presentation no later than two weeks after giving their presentation. Student presentations and written summaries should include:

  1. A very short background section which explains why a peacekeeping operation was necessary (e.g. “response to outbreak of civil war in the former Yugoslavia”)

  2. The mandate and duration of the peacekeeping operation (referring to the founding and most relevant UN Security Council Resolutions)

  3. Components of the mission (e.g. civilian; police; military and others) and brief description of their mandated tasks

  4. Analysis of the “hot topic” examined by the whole class in relation to the specific mission

The written peacekeeping operation summaries will be shared between the class so that students may gain distributed to all students in the class to facilitate knowledge sharing.

Plagiarism: A Warning!
Plagiarism is a serious academic offence. Plagiarism means:
To take the words or an idea of someone else and pass it off as one’s own.”
Any idea, sentence or paragraph you take or copy from any source (including cases, books, articles and web sites) must be cited with reference to the original source (please note a web link alone is not acceptable, you must also put the name of the article before the web link). If you paraphrase or directly quote from a web source the source must be properly cited in your footnotes.
Students who plagiarise will fail the course and may also be subject to disciplinary procedures. The university has strict rules with consequences for students caught plagiarising. You have been warned!
Teaching Methodology

The teaching methodology for this course combines lectures and seminar style discussions. Students are expected to prepare for and participate in each and every class discussion. This means you must do all of the required reading in advance of class. If you do not read and participate you will not pass this course.
Office Hours

You may drop in and see me without an appointment on:
Monday: 2-4pm

Tuesday: 2-4pm
I am happy to meet you at other times but kindly request that you email me in advance to make a mutually convenient appointment.

PART II: Course Outline
Session 1: Introduction to the Law and Practice of International Peacekeeping
Session 2: The Ambit and Relevance of the Law of International Peacekeeping
Session 3: The Legal Basis of Peacekeeping under the UN Charter and Security Council Mandates
Session 4: Actors I: Military
Session 5: Rules of Engagement and the Use of Force in Peacekeeping Operations
Session 6: Actors II: Civilians

Session 7: The Privileges, Immunities and an Introduction to the Accountability of Peacekeepers
Session 8: The Protection of Peacekeepers
Session 9: International Humanitarian Law and Peacekeeping
Session 10: Actors III: NGOs and the ICRC
Session 11: International Human Rights Law and Peacekeeping

Session 12: International Criminal Law and Peacekeeping
Session 13: Accountability
Session 14: Revision and make up week

Session 1

Introduction to the Law and Practice of International Peacekeeping
Session Outline: We commence with an overview of the law, doctrines and practice of peacekeeping from its early development up until today. In 1948, the UN deployed its first peacekeeping operation in the Middle East (UNEF I). At that time, the UN doctrinal practice of peacekeeping was the deployment of military forces with consent of the host state, impartiality and the use force only in self-defence. A number of operations have retained this doctrine today. The end of the Cold War and the expansion of UN SC authorised “peace enforcement”, “peace building” and “state building” mandates has led the practice of international peacekeeping to become much more complex. Peacekeeping operations are now often comprised of large number of civilian and police actors who work along side the military. We review the historical doctrinal practice of UN peacekeeping.
Hot topic

  • The Principles of Traditional “First Generation” Peacekeeping reflected in the mandates in Egypt (UNEF I and II) and Cyprus (UNFICYP)

Missions in Focus

United Nations Emergency Force I (UNEF I)
United Nations Emergency Force II (UNEF II)
United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP)

Please spend at least an hour exploring the web site of the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations (UNDPKO) which will be your main source of reference for this course:
Please also read the following short background pieces:
DPKO, “What is UN Peacekeeping?”
DPKO, “The History of UN Peacekeeping”
UN DPKO and DFS, Civil Affairs Handbook, “Brief Introduction to UN Peacekeeping”, Chapter 1 (2012)
Further Readings

Findlay, T. “The Emergence of the Self Defence Norm: UNEF I” The Use of Force in Peacekeeping Operations (2002), Chapter 2
United Nations DFA and DPKO United Nations Peacekeeping: Principles and Guidelines (2010) – “The Capstone Doctrine”, Chapters 2 and 3
Polman, L. We Did Nothing: Why the Truth Does not Always Come Out when the UN Goes in (1999)
Postlewait, H., Cain, K. and Thompson, A. Emergency Sex and Other Desperate Measures (2004)
UNDPKO, Basic Principles of UN Peacekeeping
Reflection Questions

  1. What is international peacekeeping?

  2. What are the “traditional principles” of peacekeeping?

  3. What kinds of legal issues do you think arise in relation to peacekeeping operations?

This week students will be allocated their mission presentations

Session 2

The Ambit and Relevance of the Law of International Peacekeeping
Session Outline: The international law of peacekeeping is now a distinctly recognisable, complex and mature body of international law. It is comprised of numerous overlapping and intersecting branches of both international and domestic law as well as principles sui generis to the domain of peacekeeping. The international law of peacekeeping is important because it provides a set of legal principles and frameworks that govern a wide range of actors, entities and functions in peacekeeping operations. The aim of this body of law is to regulate complex interventions in a diverse range of conflict and post conflict situations. In simple terms, the law of international peacekeeping provides a measure of order in the midst of chaos. The international law of peacekeeping has emerged in conjunction with the development of other specialist branches of international law, including international humanitarian, human rights and criminal law. Parallel developments in international law have had an extremely important impact on the scope of the international law of peacekeeping and in the development of its foundational principles.
Hot Topic

  • Mapping the Sources of the Law of International Peacekeeping


Oswald, B. et al. Documents on the Law of Peacekeeping (2010), pp.2-13
Sheeran, S. “Contemporary Issues in UN Peacekeeping and International Law”, IDCR, Briefing Paper (2011)
Further Readings

United Nations DFA and DPKO United Nations Peacekeeping: Principles and Guidelines (2010) – “The Capstone Doctrine”, Chapter 1
Reflection Questions

  1. How and why is law relevant to peacekeeping operations?

  2. What is the ambit of the law of international peacekeeping?

  3. What are the sources of the law of international peacekeeping?

  4. Who are the actors and entities in peacekeeping operations? And why are actors and entities important in the application of the law of international peacekeeping?

Session 3

The Legal Basis of Peacekeeping under the UN Charter and

Security Council Mandates
Session Outline: The UN Charter provides the legal basis for UN and regional peacekeeping operations even though the Charter itself does not contain an article that explicitly mentions peacekeeping. After more than sixty years of peacekeeping there is, however, no doubt that the UN can lawfully deploy peacekeepers (see: 1950 Certain Expenses of the UN Case in which the Court used the “implied powers” doctrine to find that peacekeeping was an entirely lawful and legitimate enterprise for the UN). A number of legal debates relating to the whether peacekeeping falls under Chapter VI, VII and VIII will be reviewed during this session. We note that within the contemporary context, debates about the legality of operations are often academic in that they attempt to work out which specific article(s) of the UN Charter provide authority for particular actors or entities to carry out various functions on the ground. Issues of supreme legality also arise when actors and entities in peacekeeping operations act, or are seen to act, outside of the legal framework of the UN SC mandate.
Hot Topics

  • UN SC authorisation for “peace enforcement” in response to the 1964 civil war in the Congo (UNOC)

  • The legal basis of ECOMOG, UNAMIS and Operations “Palliser” and “Barras” (UK unilateral military intervention) in Sierra Leone in the 1990s

Missions in Focus

United Nations Mission in the Congo (UNOC)

Economic Community of West African States Observer Group (ECOMOG) deployed by the East African Economic Community (ECOWAS), 1990-1998
United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL)

Oswald, B. et al. Documents on the Law of Peacekeeping (2010), pp.17-33
UK Operation “Palliser” (2000)

UK Operation “Barras” (2000)
Findlay, T. “Breaking the Rules: Peace Enforcement in the Congo” The Use of Force in Peacekeeping Operations (2002), Chapter 3
UN DPKO Best Practices Unit, “Lessons Learnt from the UN Peacekeeping Operation in Sierra Leone” (2003):
Legal Sources

SC Resolutions 143, 161 and 169 (Congo)
SC Resolutions 1270 and 1279 (Sierra Leone)
United Nations Charter, Preamble, Articles 1, 2(4), 2(7), 51, Chapters VI, VII and VIII
1950 UN General Assembly Uniting for Peace Resolution
Certain Expenses of the United Nations (1951 ICJ Advisory Opinion)
Further Readings

Higgins, R. Problems and Processes in International Law and how we use it (1998), Chapter 10
Nasu, H. International Law on Peacekeeping: A Study of Article 40 of the UN Charter (2009)
Sarooshi, D. The United Nations and the Development of Collective Security: The Delegation by the UN Security Council of its Chapter VII Powers (1999
Simma, B. The United Nations Charter: A Commentary (2012)

Reflection Questions

  1. What is the legal basis for peacekeeping operations?

  2. What framework do UN SC Resolutions establish for peacekeeping operations?

  3. Why is it important for peacekeepers to have clear and appropriate mandates from the UN SC?

Session 4

Actors I: Military
Session Outline: Traditionally peacekeeping operations were comprised almost exclusively of military personnel. Although there are now thousands of civilians (including police) in operations, military personnel still make up the majority of peacekeepers today. We examine the functions that various types of military peacekeepers (e.g. observers; formed contingents and special forces) carry out. We then turn to examine the legal framework for the contribution, deployment and status of military peacekeepers in the host state and note there are slight variations in the legal status of different types of military personnel. Military personnel are all, however, regulated by both domestic and international sources of law. Whilst serving for the UN, military personnel remain bound by the domestic law and under the exclusive jurisdiction of their sending state and have immunity from the courts of the host state.
Hot Topics

  • The Legal Status of Indian Amy Personnel in UN Peacekeeping Operations (case study of South Sudan)

  • The Problem of Legal Regulation in States where NSA control territory (case study of Lebanon and the DRC)

Missions in Focus

United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS)

United Nations Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO)
United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL)

Please start off by reading about what the military contributions to UN and Peacekeeping Missions
Check out the contributions interactive map
UN Field Support
Bellamy, A.J. and Williams, P.D. Providing Peacekeepers: The Politics, Challenges, and Future of United Nations Peacekeeping Contributions (2013), Introduction “The Politics and Challenges of Providing Peacekeepers”, pp.1-21 and 226-244
Oswald, B. et al. Documents on the Law of Peacekeeping (2010), pp.34-42
United Nations, “India’s Contribution to UN Peacekeeping Missions”
Vogel, C. “Congo: Why Peacekeepers have a Credibility Problem”, The Guardian (30 August 2013)

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